A girls’ night to remember
Scarlett Johansson is more naturally adept at playing alien temptresses and cyber-enhanced superhumans than she is at playing ordinary college graduates.
Her “otherworldly” screen persona is addressed directly in Rough Night when her character’s besieged state senate campaign manager observes that voters are backing her rival even after he has posted a series of d ... pics.
They simply don’t see Jess as someone they’d want to have a beer with.
That’s where the alpha female’s mismatched and formerly tight-knit bunch of college buddies kicks in — for both the character and the actress who plays her.
Johansson has kicked arse with a string of powerful, empathetic but elusive female protagonists — in films such as Ghost In The Shell, Lucy and Under The Skin.
Sci-fi suits her. The actress’s vocal performance as an intelligent operating system in the Spike Jonze film Her was a virtual triumph.
And then, of course, there is Marvel’s Black Widow.
After a run like that, a ribald female comedy probably represents both a good career choice and a welcome change of pace.
While Johansson is not particularly comfortable in this new environment — at times, she just appears confused — this fish-out-of-water quality works in the context of such a madcap caper.
Director Lucia Aniello, reunited here with her Broad City/Time Travelling Bong collaborator Ilana Glazer, has gathered together a team of comedic pros that includes Saturday Night Live/ Ghostbusters star Kate McKinnon and Jillian Bell (22 Jump St, Fist Fight.)
Zoe Kravitz (Mad Max: Fury Road) rounds out the unlikely gang.
Rough Night starts out as (yet another) female version of The Hangover when Jess reluctantly interrupts her flagging senate campaign for a long-planned bachelorette weekend in Miami with her former college roommates in the lead-up to her marriage to the ever-understanding Peter (Paul W. Downs).
Thankfully, the film departs its hard-partying trajectory fairly quickly, when an overenthusiastic Alice (Bell) accidentally kills the male stripper who turns up at their beachfront mansion. (The film pinches its premise from the much darker 1998 movie Very Bad Things, starring Christian Slater.) Still high, the five mates panic, making an already bad situation a good deal worse.
Bell doesn’t hold anything back in the role of Jess’s needy former roommate — her idea of friendship is so intense, it’s verging on single white female territory. Glazer and Kravitz run interference as former lovers Frankie and Blair, whose lives have gone in diametrically opposing directions — one’s a radical activist, the other’s a trophy wife whose marriage is in the process of unravelling.
McKinnon once again plays the wildcard as Jess’s kooky Australian friend. The accent is outrageous, but then so is the performance.
Rough? The night in question is dangerously splintered — and therein lies its intermittent charm.
NOW SCREENING ( VMAX AND GOLD CLASS)
Blair (Zoe Kravitz), Alice (Jillian Bell), Jess (Scarlett Johansson), Frankie (Ilana Grazer) and Pippa (Kate McKinnon) hit the town.