The Good, Bad, and the Ugly: “The Layover,” “Girl’s Trip,” and “Rough Night” Review
by Kevin Muller
These three movies take the typical comedic situations involving girl trips and creates three very different stories. They all try to make us laugh, with some resorting to the gross out humor more than the others, but only one really succeeds because it abides by the rules of good film-making.
All three of these movies all have one thing in common, their main characters are trying to escape the hardships of life. In Girls Trip, four women, who have been friends since college, try to relive their glory days with a trip to New Orleans. The film is a constant barrage of sex jokes. One joke involves the male anatomy and a cantaloupe. Then in The Layover two best friends take a spontaneous trip down south, only for mother nature to interrupt their plans and redirect their flight to St. Louis where a man becomes the object of both their affections. This movie features jokes that mostly are vicious and show how ugly women get when a man gets between them. Finally, the darkest plot here belongs to Rough Night which shows what happens when you accidentally kill the male stripper that you hired for your best friend’s bachelorette party. This one pushes the envelope through extremely weird jokes involving swingers and an adult wearing a diaper. Yes, you read that correctly.
William H. Macy has been getting a lot of crap for being behind The Layover. Did he lose a bet? Does someone in Hollywood have some juicy blackmail on him? Was he bored and decided to try to turn an extremely weak script into something worthwhile? When actors decide to sit into the director’s chair, it usually either goes one way or another. Unfortunately, Macy’s film is a mess, with some humorous moments, but overall it is an unusual failure. While Alexandra Daddario, who really needs a new agent, does okay with the mediocre material, super model Kate Upton struggles with the most basic emotions of acting. It also doesn’t help that the comedy becomes so out of control that it sacrifices the supposed friendship between the two. Upton’s character Meg gets so evil with some of her schemes that you question why the hell Kate? Yes, Kate is supposed to be the weaker of the two, but it just borders of Stockholm Syndrome at points. A funny observation is seeing whenever Upton needs to act upset. This can be seen by how many times she slams her pocket book down in the film. While the film is lazy in its writing and comedy, the ending is a pretty interesting twist. It is the only time the movie seems to seem mildly interesting. Women always complain about how they are portrayed in film and this one does not paint a pretty picture of two beautiful, but idiotic women.
Of course, women do bicker and fight but Girls Trip gets everything right that the other two get wrong. It is a film that has real genuine heart, laughs, and emotions. These four women: Queen Latifah, Regina Hall, Jada Pickett-Smith, and the outrageously funny Tiffany Haddish, all are completely realized characters. Yes, some of the situations do get out of hand, the cantaloupe and male anatomy combination is hilariously awkward, but you feel like these women really have known each other, not only from college, but through all the ups and downs that life has to offer. All are escaping some sort of problem: motherhood, responsibility, failure, and possible divorce. The latter one is a very big plot element that tests the friendship of its four leads. It is also something that in most films would feel tacked on, but it is really sold well here. The film also shows that no matter how hard life is, your closest friends are the ones you need to both love and knock your ass down to reality at times. Haddish’s character, in any other actress’s hands, would be so crass, but she handles it beautifully. That is not to say that character isn’t crass, loud, obnoxious, and confrontational, but she is also loyal and vulnerable at points. She is the friend you need when times get rough and also downright hilarious. Most of the events involve the troupes of a road trip comedy: drugs, body fluids, and sex. Even though it is extremely vulgar, you feel the sisterhood between these four women.
Finally, you have Rough Night, a film that has none of the charm of “Girls Trip” and more mistakes than “The Layover.” A dark female comedy could’ve been an interesting way to tell a women’s comedy, but this one misses every mark it aims to hit. Scarlett Johansson, who looks completely lost trying to fit into this type of comedy, is getting married and her friends decide to throw her a bachelorette party in Florida. As with Girls Trip they all were college friends who lost touch when their careers became the most important things in their lives. Johansson plays Sam, an inspiring politician, who is marrying probably the most vanilla dude in the world, and wants to play it safe. What starts off with Sam taking a walk on the wild side, with a few sniffs of cocaine, soon turns into a tale of accidental murder. The conflict comes from disposing the body, but then we find out more about the deceased. Unfortunately, it really never goes anywhere that interesting. This movie has its own wild card and it is Jillian Bell who plays the wild and weird Alice. Everywhere where Haddish succeeded, Bell completely fails. Even though the character is fleshed out, it doesn’t change the fact she is like nails on a chalkboard for the entire movie. Her attempts to be funny, through constant one liners, just comes off as downright annoying. The character just isn’t a good person either, her antics comes off as obsessive and possessive of Sam. She fails to have us emphasize for her. Kate McKinnon, who still hasn’t found the right script, seems to be just phoning it in as the Australian friend, Pippa. She tries to use the accent to be funny, but it is something that quickly wears out its welcome. The strangest story-line definitely goes to Sam’s very feminine fiancé, Peter. After her phone breaks, he rushes down to make sure she isn’t cheating on him. Not to mention that all his friends were given the direction just to act like beta males. Men acting like women is supposed to be funny? That is only the beginning of what is absolutely terrible screenwriting and direction. His journey places him in a diaper. Yep, he wears a diaper for the majority of the story. You feel absolutely terrible for the actor Peter W. Downs because he is used for cheap laughs. Though the biggest sin this film makes is that these women aren’t ones that you want to follow. They are cynical, boring, and just flat out terribly written characters. The film fails to be funny or dark, but it does succeed in being weirdly terrible.
Hollywood should realize that women do deserve comedic films as good as their male counterparts. Some women can even out do some men with these antics. Hopefully, they learn from these three movies where they went wrong and where they went extremely right. The genre can definitely be fun and produce some well made films where the girls can cut loose and have fun!
Girls Trip- 4 out of 5 Hairpieces!
The Layover- 1.5 out of 5 Hairpieces!
Rough Night- 1 out of 5 Hairpieces!