We had high hopes for Lucia Aniello’s Rough Night. Billed as Broad City (Aniello directs and writes for the show) meets Bridesmaids, we anticipated real laughs and smart, cliché-free characters. With Kate McKinnon tapped to play one of four besties to bride-to-be Scarlett Johansson, it seemed like a perfect summer flick.
Then the trailer dropped, and so too, the realization that this ladies’ nightmare would include the accidental killing of a stripper.
Reservations aside, we decided to take an actual stripper with us to review the film. Toronto-based gem Cooper Roads—an alias—was up for the experience. He’s worked in the adult entertainment industry, on and off, for about six years in a variety of capacities, from go-go dancer to stripper, with a few stints in porn. He’s never performed for a bachelorette before, but he’s not averse to it. And he *has* dealt with some inappropriate audience members (on one occasion someone hurled a beer can before security shut that down), but for the most part he says people are pretty respectful.
Needless to say, he wasn’t prepared for what he was about to see.
“The biggest misconception I get is the idea that I must be really down on my luck to get into this industry. But I’m not. Honestly, I enjoy it, and it’s great supplemental income,” he says. “In terms of nights gone wrong, I knew the movie was going to be a wild exaggeration. From my own experience, the industry is a lot more safe and regulated than people think.”
Onto the show.
We can sum it up without spoiling anything, really: as expected, once ScarJo’s girl squad (Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer, Zoë Kravitz and McKinnon, who play three college BFFs and a friend from study abroad, respectively) touches down in Miami, they wrestle with going to bed early or hitting the club. You know which option they choose. Fuelled by coke, bright green shots and truly awful decision-making skills, the selfie-snapping crew accidentally kills an adult entertainer summoned from Craigslist and then spends the better part of the film trying to cover their tracks. What follows is every tired trope and slapstick joke the writers could possibly think of—Demi Moore even makes a cameo as a friendly swinger looking for a threesome—none of which are actually funny, but all of which will make you scratch your head wondering why any of these women ever agreed to do this thing.
“It wasn’t the worst movie I’ve ever seen,” says Roads afterwards, trying to make the best of the 101-minute, slow-moving train wreck he just witnessed. “When I heard it was the new Bridesmaids, I wanted to believe it might be good, but I knew it wouldn’t. It’s hard to top that movie, but this wasn’t even close. It was a D-list version at best.”
It was stomach-turning to watch Rough Night’s Alice (Bell) bound toward and leap onto the nameless male stripper with so much gusto he fell back and hit his head on a table corner. Blood pooled around him—so much blood—that it seemed for a moment like the script might turn into a horror flick. Maybe that might have saved it? Instead we got a quick jump-cut to giggling girls stress-eating Domino’s, dragging a jet ski with a dead body draped across it out to sea, earnestly believing “this could still be the best night of our f-cking lives.”
“I get that people who work in the adult entertainment industry may not be viewed in a positive light, but we’re people,” says Roads. “I don’t care who the guy was or what he did—he’s still a person. I was shocked at how little remorse they actually felt for what they did. Immediately they started thinking about prison sentences instead of calling… you know… 911. And the idea that we as audience members were supposed to laugh with them—it just felt gross.”
More to the point: would it be funny if The Hangover dudes killed a female stripper on the Vegas strip?
“I think that’s what really got me: we’d be having a very different conversation if a bunch of guys were trying to get rid of a female stripper’s body, covering her face with a pair of shades that had a penis nose attached to them,” says Roads.
He’s right, and it’s a conversation we’ve already had—nearly 20 years ago. That movie was Very Bad Things (1998), and it’s one we’d prefer to forget.
“There are way funnier things this cast could have done together. I just don’t get why such high-profile actresses signed onto this project when they could command such great roles,” says Roads.