A girls’ night to re­mem­ber

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - INSIDER -

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.

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