Back in 2009 Paul Feig's Bridesmaids launched the R-rated female comedy genre into the middle of mainstream cinema. And since then, stars like Melissa McCarthy, Tina Fey and Amy Schumer have carried the torch through a mostly unspectacular crop of releases. But in-steps the eye-popping Scarlett Johansson, an unlikely character actress who finds herself starring in Broad City director Lucia Aniello's feature film debut, Rough Night.
The film centers around bride-to-be Jess (Johansson), a state politician caught in the middle of a neck-and-neck race. Her former college roommate (Jillian Bell) demands an elaborate bachelorette getaway weekend, and things go completely sideways when a freak accident leads to a dead stripper in their shore house. Jess and her best friends need to put their petty grievances aside and work together to avoid some serious jail time.
There are a few strong positives provided in Lucia Aniello's Rough Night. Cleverly scripted humor is sprinkled throughout, allowing the film to do more than just rely on raunchy and vulgar jokes. In addition, Scarlett Johansson transitions from drama to comedy with exceptional ease. Her performance is the glue that holds the rest of this up-and-down cast together. Co-stars Jillian Bell, Zoe Kravitz, Ilana Glazer and SNL's Kate McKinnon, who sports her finest Aussie accent, each offer a handful of shining moments. Yet, they also suffer from grossly embellished characters and instances of all-out absurdity. Sometimes the craziness is effective, but other times it's a legitimate concern. Futhermore, Rough Night's secondary storyline following Jess' fiance Peter (screenwriter and co-star Paul W. Downs) is way over the top. If you're seeking some easy and constant laughs with little regard for a sensible plot, Rough Night will surely suffice. But if you're searching for a comedy that's plausible and grounded in reality, then you should look elsewhere.
Stars: 2 stars out of 4
The Discovery Channel's "Shark Week" marathon is right around the corner and if you're trying to find a way to set the mood for July's annual festivities, you may want to consider Johannes Roberts' new underwater thriller, 47 Meters Down. Roberts, who has also been handed the keys to the upcoming 2018 horror sequel The Strangers 2, brings a recognizable lead, Mandy Moore, on board for this new release. And with shark infested waters and bikini clad women dominating the screen time, what more could a horror fan ask for?
Sisters Lisa (Moore) and Kate (Claire Holt) are vacationing in Mexico trying to break Lisa out of her conventional and boring lifestyle. But when Kate convinces her sister to climb into a rickety cage in the middle of the ocean surrounded by enormous Great White Sharks, things go south quickly when the cage breaks from the ship and crashes 47 meters below to the ocean floor. Running out of oxygen and with blood-thirsty sharks hovering above, the sisters try desperately to formulate a plan for survival.
There are some noteworthy elements to Johannes Roberts' tense new thriller. After a heart-pounding free-fall into the dark depths of the ocean floor, 47 Meters Down makes you feel the confinement of its lead characters. The film provides an inherent "ticking time bomb effect" with air-tank gauges that constantly remind the audience of the impending doom. Moreover, the visual effects with the sharks are superb, creating genuine fear during their timely arrivals on screen. But despite these effective attributes to the film, 47 Meters Down finds itself mired in a repetitious cycle of conflicts and resolutions that transform this 89-minute experience into an unimaginable marathon. And as the film crawls to its finale, Roberts and co-writer Ernest Riera miss the mark completely with a crafty ending that doesn't quite provide the punch that they were expecting. 47 Meters Down is a frustratingly slow, albeit occasionally tense, thriller that turns its back on some golden opportunities.
Stars: 2 stars out of 4