Saturday, June 17, 2017

Rough Night [2017]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB (O) (2 Stars)  AVClub (B-)  Fr. Dennis (2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
Los Angeles Times (J. Chang) review (C. Lemire) review
AVClub (K. Rife) review

Rough Night [2017] (directed and screenplay cowritten by Lucia Aniello along with Paul W. Downs) is a definitely R-rated "Bridesmaids [2011] meets Weekend with Bernie [1989]" comedy.  There's a lot of crude (often penis) humor, two of characters are (or at least were) lesbians (back in college...), and a pharmacy's (or at least backwoods meth shack's) worth of illegal drugs is used/abused.  It's a film that _aims_ for goofy / raunchy and often enough succeeds.

What could possibly be redeeming about a film like this?  Well a lot of young people are going to watch it.  It has gay people in it, but they know and many/most of them will have already had gay friends and most will have kept them as friends even if they are gay.  The drug use in the film is extensive, even "creative" (to a 53-year-old (Catholic priest) like me).  But said drug use is not exactly portrayed as "positive" -- cocaine is clearly portrayed as impairing decision making, meth that "yes it can keep you awake" BUT ... again _severely_ limit your judgement.

And to anybody who may have doubts here, let me then reiterate the obvious: (1) Cocaine can kill you. (2) Meth can kill you.  (3) Driving impaired be it from alcohol to meth to "red bull" can kill you.  And yes, while "crossing the street" "can kill you" too, only an idiot would see "crossing a street" to be equivalent to doing lines of coke or driving on meth.  But my guess is that most Millennials will know that, and if they don't then, I've just told them.

So why the insanely exaggerated drug use in the film ... because most viewers would find it insanely dangerous / _funny_ ... after all, how many different concoctions of drugs could one possibly take _on one drive_ to _try_ "to keep awake"? ;-)

Then with the homosexuality.  Yes, the Catholic Church is right.  At minimum _at some level_ homosexuality is _disordered_ (a plug fits into a socket not another plug...).  That said, we all know people who are gay (and happy with their homosexuality).  And (I've written about this before) while the Church teaches that homosexuality is disordered, that homosexuality simply does not fit into its 2000 year tried-and-tested Theology of Marriage (that Marriage is to be open to both Life and to Love), outside of the Church the Society remains (thankfully) Free to go on its own ... and certainly for now and for the foreseeable future Western Society has chosen to accept homosexuality as a _legitimate_ lifestyle option for people ... AND ITS FILMS WILL REFLECT THIS _NO MATTER_ WHAT THE CHURCH SAYS ABOUT IT.  (That's again Freedom ... indeed Freedom of Conscience which the Church itself defends).

That does not mean that the Church should stop teaching that at least on some level homosexuality is intrinsically disordered.  On the other hand, it is needlessly putting itself in a self-imposed box if it an issue like this is all that matters.

I return to the question: What is "redeemable" in a film like this (or Bridesmaids [2011]) before it?  I think its emphasis on friendship: Is it possible to truly be "Best Friends Forever" and if so, doesn't that friendship have to change over time?

Then I did find it rather insightful that the couple getting married were both "perfect" in terms of the nominal standards of our time: Scarlett Johanssen's Jess was like a 30-year-old Hillary Clinton (bright, educated, indeed running for office) and her fiance' Peter (played by Paul W. Downs) was the _perfect_ well-groomed / sensitive ("Metrosexual") guy.  Yet both were _really boring_, and needed the _less perfect_ people around them -- from Jess' weight-challenged former college roommate Alice (played wonderfully by Jillian Bell), to her just plain goofily weird friend (played by Kate McKinnon) from her year of study abroad "out in Australia" to the by this point in my article "famous" lesbian / sort of (seriously) friends Blair and Frankie (played by Zoe Kravitz and Ilana Glazer) -- to give them life.

So while definitely _not_ for "the little ones" (the R-rating is RICHLY deserved), this is a film that a lot of 20-something Millennials are going to watch and it's not an entirely awful film.  It is often very funny and stresses friendship.

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