No cat fight in this di­vas’ bat­tle

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - FILM & THEATRE - Ti­nashe Kusema Big & Small Screen

EV­ERY now and then, the Hol­ly­wood ma­chine spits out two movies that have the same premise and themes, and then dares us to com­pare and con­trast the two. They did it with 1997’s “Dante Peak” and “Vol­cano”, 1998’s “Deep Im­pact” and “Ar­maged­don”, 2013’s “Olym­pus Has Fallen” and “White House Down”, and most “Girl’s Trip” and “Rough Night”.

The last pair is the sub­ject of this week’s review.

In both movies, a group of col­lege friends try to re­con­nect af­ter find­ing that life in the real world is tougher than they ex­pected.

In “Rough Night”, the uni­fy­ing fac­tor is Jess (Scar­lett Jo­hans­son), a sen­a­to­rial can­di­date about to get mar­ried to Peter (Paul W Downs).

Her friends Alice (Jil­lian Bell), Frankie (Il­lana Glazer), Blair (Zoe Kravitz) and Pippa (Kate Mckin­non), whom she met dur­ing a se­mes­ter in Aus­tralia, de­cide to throw her a bach­e­lorette party in Mi­ami.

The five party, drink and try to re­live their youth, but a clas­sic case of mis­taken iden­tity, the glit­ter of di­a­monds and some old wounds lead to a night of may­hem and laughs.

In “Girls Trip” a group of life­long friends called The Flossy Possey de­cide to meet in New Or­leans for the Essence Mu­sic Fes­ti­val.

Ryan Pierce (Regina Hall), a suc­cess­ful self-help au­thor in­vites her friends when she is selected to be the fes­ti­cal key­note speaker.

Her friends — Sasha Franklin (Queen Lat­i­fah), Lisa Cooper (Jada Pinkett-Smith) and Dina (Tif­fany Had­dish) — jump at the of­fer as each hopes to for­get their trou­bled and mis­er­able lives for a week­end.

While both films have their own mer­its, I have to give it to “Girls Trip”.

“Rough Night” is too cliché, the plot too sim­ple and wasted the tal­ents of “Satur­day Night Live” alum­nus McKin­non.

Scar­lett Jo­hans­son is no lead­ing lady in com­edy and puts in a pedes­trian per­for­mance as Jess.

“Girls Trip” checks all right boxes.

Had­dish (Dina) is by far the fun­ni­est of all the ladies and is given am­ple ma­te­rial to shine. Her gags re­volve around try­ing to get ev­ery­one drunk, fight­ing men and em­bar­rass­ing her­self all in the name of fun.

On the Box-of­fice, “Girls Trip” has done bet­ter, amass­ing US$136 mil­lion from a US$20 mil­lion bud­get. In con­trast, “Rough Night” — since June re­lease — has earned US$47mil­lion from a bud­get of about US$20 mil­lion.

In “Girls Trip”, the char­ac­ters are bet­ter-rounded and (I may never say this again), Jada Pinkett-Smith did a great job.

I sin­gle her out be­cause she is the least ex­pe­ri­enced of the four main ac­tors in com­edy.

“Rough Night’s” plot lacks depth and Jo­hans­son is not funny, while Bell and McKin­non de­served more ma­te­rial.

Il­lana Glazer needed more to work with, as ev­i­denced by her TV se­ries “Broad City”.

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