Movie Review – Rough Night

TL;DR – It’s not the best film I have seen, while it has some laughs, it is let down by its highly predictable storyline.

Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars

P.S. – There is a Mid & End credit sequence

Rough Night

Review

It is the year 2009, those heady days when Balloon Boy was a thing, remember that, oh and Kanye West was an ass at the VMA, wow how times have changed. It was during this year that The Hangover a relatively small budget (35mill) R-rated comedy came out in cinemas and made a metric-ass-ton of cash at the box-office. Since that time there have been a string of R-rated ensemble comedy films that have tried to capture that same draw with 2011’s Bridesmaids being the closest contender. So why do companies keep making them, well they’re cheap, low risk, and a chance at a very big potential reward, but because of this combination the films tend not to be that good most of the time. So today we are going to be looking at the next challenger into this realm with Rough Night which while not being anything revolutionary does have its moments of interest.

Now before we go one I do need to point out that because of its mature content there is probably a very easy litmus test as to whether or not you think you’d want to go see Rough Night. So let’s highlight just a couple of things from the movie, there are male strippers, cocaine, neighbours that are in a very open marriage, and they end up stashing the dead body in a room with adult accessories. As I said at this point I have probably polarised the opinion of the people reading the review, but then that is the nature of these films. Also don’t take your eight-year-old to go see this, come on I didn’t think it needed to be said but apparently not.

The cast has a great rapport with each other

The cast has a great rapport with each other

So to set the scene in college four girls become fast friends and promise to always be there for each other. Fast forward ten years and Jess (Scarlett Johansson) is engaged to Peter (Paul W. Downs) and is running for political office, Alice (Jillian Bell) is a teacher but never really moved on from her college years, Frankie (Ilana Glazer) is an ‘activist’ but it is more for show than anything else, and Blair (Zoë Kravitz) is a successful business women that is going through a bad divorce. They along with Pippa (Kate McKinnon) a friend Jess made whilst studying abroad in Australia have come together in Florida to celebrate Jess’ bachelorette weekend. Jess is just looking for a quiet weekend with friends and is desperately avoiding anything that could damage her election campaign, but of course, the complete opposite happens when the group hires a stripper (Ryan Cooper) and then accidentally kills him. Look as crass as it is, it is still a good setup for a film, you have a dead body, you have everyone having a motive to try and hide the body because there are drugs everywhere, and you even have a question over who some people are. However, while the setup is good, the story does not really take it and run with it as we will see later.

Now it will probably become clear that I am quite mixed on Rough Night, mostly because of its story but one area I do have to give full props to is the cast, who is giving it their all and are really game for anything. For me the stand out was Kate McKinnon and not just because she really rocked that Australian accent which is not the easiest thing to do, but because she was game for anything they throw at her. I look forward to curious Americans trying Vegemite cold turkey, and the hilarity that follows, for our international followers, Vegemite should be consumed on toast with butter and you should build up the doses until you are comfortable with them. Also, I have to give credit to Paul W. Downs who spends most of the film pulling of a rendition of the sad astronaut, I really hope they paid you well. As well as the standouts I have to say the one thing that stood out for me was the rapport of the main cast. They actually feel like they are friends that have known each other for a long time it comes across in their performance. It was interesting to see Demi Moore and Ty Burrell play so off the norm with their swinger couple team and thankfully they are not around too long that the bit gets old and Dean Winters is always a good addition. As well as this, there were some good ideas here, like the TV in the background that gives you hints of what is going in the town.

Rough Night 1

Unfortunately it does not capitalise on its setup

Now while the film has a good set up, and the cast is up for anything, what stops the film from excelling is the story. Now there are some really funny moments in Rough Night, but for me, there were also far too many completely predictable plot points. [SPOILERS] At times it felt like we hit every trope in the genre that you see in film after film. Now while you kind of expect the standard Chekhov’s Gun, though it was interesting to see it in the form of a code word, there were also so many others that are just grating. For example, the story was fine but there was for some reason this really unnecessary conflict about Alice being too possessive over Jess, that either could have been handled better or removed. Sure yes, it inevitably leads to a big blow up and the inevitable catharsis, but this in itself is something you can see coming a mile away. Also, there were a lot of missed opportunities, like we don’t find out the first stripper is dodgy until almost the end when stripper Number 2 (Colton Haynes) appears but this could have added much earlier to the freak out the characters and provide a better source of conflict. Honestly, at times it kind of felt like there was a checklist that the movie had to reach before it could finish. [End of SPOILERS]

Look at the end can I recommend Rough Night, well yes, but only if your other choice is seeing Baywatch which is also out at the moment and has a similar tone. Other than that, well, of course, I have seen worse films, but I have also seen films in this genre that have been much better. It has a strong cast but there are just too many missed opportunities for me to fully recommend it.

 

Directed by – Lucia Aniello
Written By – Lucia Aniello & Paul W. Downs
Music by – Dominic Lewis
Cinematography by – Sean Porter
Edited by – Craig Alpert
Starring
– Scarlett Johansson, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer, Zoë Kravitz, Kate McKinnon, Paul W. Downs, Ryan Cooper, Demi Moore, Ty Burrell, Colton Haynes, Dean Winters & Enrique Murciano
Rating – Australia: MA15+; Canada: 14A; Germany: na; New Zealand: R; United Kingdom: 15; United States: R

 

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Movie Review – Office Christmas Party

TL;DR – This is the same kind of movie as every R-rated comedy of the last couple of years, but thankfully with a bit more substance than usual

Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars

Review

So as we race to the end of the year, and in the lull before Star Wars destroys the box office, in its wake, we have Trolls and Office Christmas Party fighting it out to see who will get that dollar, dollar bill. Since I don’t have children I don’t have to be subjected to that Trolls nonsense (truly you guys are the MVPs) which I was over about the same time JT was performing at Eurovision, so instead this week we have Office Christmas Party. OCP is another in a long line of R-rated comedies that have sprung up in the aftermath of Hangover and Bridesmaids, and has many similarities with other films that we have looked at this year like Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, Bad Neighbours 2, Grimsby, and Dirty Grandpa, indeed it fits into the same category as The Night Before which was last year’s R-rated Christmas comedy, and more so it seems to be taking a lot of queues from Unfinished Business with its plot, but somehow OCP makes it work when most of these other films were a mess.

So before I start, I a pretty sure I can tell you if you would be interested in watching this film with the following description, this movie contains, among other things, Sex, Nudity, Language, and Drugs, and at this point you probably have indeed decided if you will be giving this film a wide berth or not.

This image kind of sums up the film

This image kind of sums up the film

Office Christmas Party has a very simple yet effective set up, Josh Parker (Jason Bateman) is managing the Chicago branch of Zenotek, a tech company, under his manager and carefree son of the recently deceased founder Clay (T.J. Miller), then Clay’s sister and company CEO Carol (Jennifer Aniston) arrives and tells them if they don’t land a client in 3 days she is shutting the branch down. So, of course, what do you do to land that big client, well you through the biggest Christmas Party you can. As far as set-ups go, as I said it is quite simple, but this allows you to save time on explaining everyone’s motivations as it is all pretty clear what they all are. When it comes to the rest of the plot, well it’s all pretty straightforward, you can probably guess the arcs of every character in the first 10 minutes and you’d probably be right. So while there are no real surprises here at any point, it is executed quite well.

While as I said the story is quite simple the actual filmmaking is a step up from a lot of the similar films in this genre, even though this is just an R comedy they still show a good eye for composition and visual storytelling. For one I appreciated that there were very few jump scare jokes which permeated this enter genre for some reason. I also liked how they used visuals to set up jokes without jamming it down our thoughts, for example [Spoilers] at the start of the party there is a snow blower that has little bags of white powder that you drop into it so it shoots fake snow around. As soon as you see that set up, you know at some point someone is going to put cocaine down with the white bags and someone is going to put it in the machine by accident, which of course happens, but so often they would go out of their way to go ‘oo I sure hope people down put anything into that other than those little bags’ wink, wink nudge, nudge, we get it we know, and here thankfully we are spared this. So while this film is not The Revenant or even Kung Fu Panda 3, I did appreciate people trying to make it visually engaging.

Ok I'll admit it, that looks kind of fun

Ok I’ll admit it, that looks kind of fun

When it comes to the casting, everyone is playing characters that they are well versed in and have a lot of experience portraying. So, on the one hand, it means these actors have a lot of experience in these roles which shows, but on the other hand, it all does start to feel a bit too familiar. I’m not sure how many films Jason Bateman has been in since Arrested Development where he plays the exasperated straight man to everyone else’s shenanigans, but here we are again. Jennifer Aniston overly stuck up boss is as well as can be expected, and indeed her relationship with T.J. Millier’s character is one of the things that elevates OCP above many of its contemporaries. Also, Kate McKinnon nails the high-strung yet really weird HR Manager Mary, in a role that might have been written just for her.

Is it a perfect film, oh good grief no, there are a lot of issues once you start looking into it, and to do so we need to [ENGAGE SPOILERS] for the rest of this paragraph as we will be talking about the ending. Firstly let’s be honest the moment things started flying out of windows and onto the pavement below the police would have been in there shutting that party down, in fact probably before then. Also with regards to the technology used in the film I checked this with people in the industry, who confirmed it as being the ‘Highest Order of Bulldash’. I am old enough to remember dial-up and good luck uploading through that. Also, just for a moment let’s imagine that is did work as described in the film, as soon as it was released that is the person that destroyed Chicago’s internet was the same company that then let people access it through a new method, that person would be arrested/sued, like seriously even without that he would be jailed for the crash for at least driving under the influence.

You don't want to mess with Jennifer Aniston in this film

You don’t want to mess with Jennifer Aniston in this film

So can I recommend Office Christmas Party, well as I said up above you already know if you are going to go see it or not, and I doubt this review has changed you mind one way or another. What I can say is that Office Christmas Party is better than a lot of its contemporaries, but that’s not a very high bar to cross.

Directed by – Will Speck & Josh Gordon
Screenplay by – Justin Malen, Laura Solon & Dan Mazer
Story by – Jon Lucas, Scott Moore & Timothy Dowling
Music by – Theodore Shapiro
Cinematography by – Jeff Cutter
Starring
– Jason Bateman, T.J. Miller, Jennifer Aniston, Olivia Munn, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Vanessa Bayer, Rob Corddry, Randall Park & Courtney B. Vance
Rating – Australia: MA15+; Canada: 14A; NZ: R; UK: 15; USA: R

Movie Review – Ghostbusters (2016)

TL;DR – If you have never seen a Ghostbusters film then you should really enjoy this, if you have, it will take a bit to get use to the cast, but by the end you will be all on board.

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

P.S. there is a post-credits scene

Review

Ghostbusters as a movie is really quite simple, you have a bunch of people that stop Ghosts. The title of the film pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the story before you go to see it.

Now, of course, this is not our first Ghostbusters film, with the original coming out in 1984, with a sequel in 1989, and since then there has been a third film that is always coming but never here. As I mentioned last week with Tarzan, reboots are all the rage in Hollywood at the moment, and given people have been trying to get a Ghostbusters 3 off the ground for a very long time, and since the passing of Harold Ramis has made a Ghostbusters 3 movie a nonstarter, it was only a matter of time before we had a reboot. So why is this reboot such a controversial movie?, well the only clear answer is that not only did Hollywood have the gall to reboot a beloved movie franchise, they recast all the male leads as women, scandal, because you know Hollywood’s never done something like that before *cough* The Magnificent 7 *cough*. Like seriously who cares, well we know who cares, probably the same subset of the movie community that freaked out when Idris Elba was cast as Heimdall in Thor. So it is a problem that they rebooted Ghostbusters with an all-female leading cast? Sorry, that’s the wrong question, the question should not have been ‘ought Sony have dared to gender swap the cast’, but instead ‘is this new Ghostbusters a good film’, and well in my opinion it is.

One good things about the movie is the great connection between the cast

One good things about the movie is the great connection between the cast

So this next section is for those of you reading this who watched the first films. If you haven’t seen them, firstly, how have you not, secondly, you can probably skip down to the next paragraph. So how does it compare to the first film, well you need to come into it with the view that it is not going to be telling the same story as the first Ghostbusters, more it takes the Star Wars: The Force Awakens approach of hitting the same beats with different content in-between. When it comes to the cast, it will take you a while to warm up to them, for me I got on board when Patty arrived, and I still didn’t get on board with Holtzmann until the end, but by the end of the film, you will be rooting for them. Also, there are a lot of callbacks and nods to the first film which you may get a kick out of.

Ok now everyone is reading, does the new cast work as the next generation of Ghostbusters, well, in my opinion, yes they do.  Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) has that boundless enthusiasm and energy that you need to drive things forward, Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) brings the levelheadedness … most of the time … and comes from a more scientific background, so she is the sceptic and cipher for the audience to help us engage with the premise of the film, Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) is the engineer of the crew and is one complex techno-babble away from the destruction of a city block, and she has a certain zaniness that many will like, Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) is the normal person on the team, but her boring job left her time to read, so she knows more about New York than anyone else in the movie, she brings the heart and the sass and she is amazing, finally Kevin Beckman (Chris Hemsworth) who is the perfect cute stupid person, but it is nice to see they let him have a bit of an Australian accent, and who knew Chris could dance like that. There is a good supporting cast, and the big bad played by Rowan North works quite well, though I don’t think Jennifer Lynch (Cecily Strong) worked as a character.

I did enjoy the design of the new ghosts

I did enjoy the design of the new ghosts

When it comes to the presentation, all the CGI is top notch, the ghost effects are all really good, which really helps sell the movie. They all have a certain style and colour scheme that really works for what the movie is going for. The music is really good, using the Ghostbusters theme sparingly to give accent to the action. As far as the pacing goes, bar the first 15 off minutes (I’ll get to that in a moment) it moves quite well, they switch things up throughout the film to keep the story pushing forward.

While it is a good film it is not without its flaws, which do detract a bit from the final product. Firstly, ok yes there will be product placement in films, we get that, but can you at least work it in so it does not slap you in the face, it makes you look tacky. Also just about everything before the first ghost at the start of the film is just so bad, the dialogue is clunky, the jokes fall flat, the rest of the film is really good, so I’m not sure why this made it to the end product.

Chris Hemsworth seemed just to be having fun throughout the film

Chris Hemsworth seemed just to be having fun throughout the film

So, in the end, I really enjoyed this reboot of Ghostbusters, it had a great cast, a good story, and some memorial ghosts, and I look forward to seeing how they push the franchise forward in the future.

 

Directed by – Paul Feig
Written by – Katie Dippold & Paul Feig
Based onGhostbusters by Ivan Reitman, Dan Aykroyd & Harold Ramis
Starring – Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth, Neil Casey, Cecily Strong, Charles Dance & Andy García
Rating – Australia: PG; Canada: PG; NZ: PG; UK: 12A; USA: PG-13