ScarJo’s Bachelorette Party Goes South in ‘Rough Night’
Starring Scarlett Johansson, Ilana Glazer, Zoë Krazitz, Jillian Bell & Kate McKinnon
Directed by Lucia Aniello
Yes, we know women can be as funny—and just as raunchy—as men.
Rough Night is very funny, very raunchy and very dark, a brazen comedy about what happens when a getaway bachelorette party weekend takes a very, very bad turn.
The bachelorettes get together a decade after their rambunctious college days to fete Jess (Scarlett Johansson), now a buttoned-down candidate for state senator. Meeting up in Miami for the wild weekend are lesbian activist Frankie (Ilana Glazer from Comedy Central’s Broad City) and her one-time crush, real-estate mogul Blair (Zoë Krazitz); unbridled schoolteacher Alice (Jillian Bell); and Pippa (SNL’s Kate McKinnon), Jess’s wild-child Aussie chum from her year of studying Down Under.
It’s a dynamite cast, and the jokes fly fast and furious as the women reunite to recapture some of their college good times—and help the uptight Jess loosen up just a bit. “It would mean so much to me if you would do just a little bit of cocaine,” Alice implores her.
Cocaine is done, indeed. Booze flows. And then someone decides they need to call a stripper.
That’s when things go south—and the movie takes a screeching, abrupt turn. Suddenly, it’s not so funny.
If you’ve seen the trailer, you know it isn’t a spoiler to reveal the guy doing the striptease dies. He’s killed, actually, in an accident caused by the “overenthusiasm” of one of the women. The rest of the movie involves what happens as Jess and her friends scramble to cover up the act, hide or dispose of the corpse and deal with the ripples created by what they’ve done.
In her movie debut, director Lucia Aniello, who honed her craft on Broad City, shows she definitely knows how to make a long-form comedy ensemble click. There’s a lot to admire about Rough Night, especially in the way its strong cast interacts, riffs and rolls with each other in the course of a story that isn’t exactly smooth sailing.
But the movie patches together things that feel too familiar from other films—the pre-nup antics of Bridesmaids, prop-up-the-dead-body jokes of Weekend at Bernies, the bachelor party mishap in Very Bad Things, when a prostitute dies and Jon Favreau and Christian Slater try to cover it up. The lack of originality smothers its sparks of spontaneity and its sense of bold, brave excursion into places where humor begins to get a bit uncomfortable. And the gags, which started off sharp, feisty and freaky, start to feel slapdash, crude, frantic and cobbled together.
And at the root of the “humor,” the heart of the comedy, in Rough Night is the fact that a person dies, in a particularly messy, undignified manner. Sure, death is part of the spectrum of the human comedy of life—but just how funny you’ll find it when you see a pool of dark red blood expanding behind this guy’s head, spilling out onto a pristine white floor, under these circumstances, will depend on your particular comedy settings.
After Ghost in the Shell and Captain America: Civil War, it’s great to see Johansson in a role that lets her show her comedy chops. Jillian Bell, a terrific supporting player in Fist Fight, Office Christmas Party, 22 Jump Street and The Night Before, and a featured player on TV’s Workaholics, Supermansion and Idiotsitter, is a spewing geyser of off-color brilliance.
And McKinnon, the live-wire breakout star of Saturday Night Live, galvanizes the camera with wide-eyed, comedic virtuosity. Stay for the credits to hear her character’s hilarious ode that puts a crazy, improbably pretty musical bow on the wild events of the movie.
Ty Burrell from TV’s Modern Family and Demi Moore ham it up as a couple of horny neighbors, and Paul W. Downs, one of the screenwriters—who also appeared on Broad City—adds some additional comedic spice as Jess’s concerned fiancé.
Raw, proudly raunchy and often riotously funny, Rough Night isn’t for everyone. But if you like your fem-centric humor with a dark, decadent twist, well, this bachelorette party’s a summer sizzler to die for.
In theaters June 16, 2017