Magazine article Screen International

'Rough Night': Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Rough Night': Review

Article excerpt

It’s a stop-start evening for this Bridesmaids-meets-Weekend At Bernie’s comedy starring Scarlett Johansson

Dir: Lucia Aniello. US. 2017. 101mins

Like many would-be debaucherous evenings, Rough Night starts off with great promise, only to devolve into a series of poor decisions, regretful moments and a general sense of disappointment. A game cast led by Scarlett Johansson hasn’t been given sufficient comedic tools to turn this tale of an ill-fated bachelorette party into the madcap, R-rated romp it very badly wants to be. Some intermittent laughs are mixed with sincere scenes about the complexity of female friendships, but neither element succeeds in making this a Night to remember.

All five actresses have been far funnier in other roles

Sony releases this broad comedy in the US on June 16, hoping to lay claim to some commercial terrain before The House arrives in a few weeks. Johansson supplies star power, alongside an up-and-coming cast that includes Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer and Zoë Kravitz. Even so, the Bridesmaids-meets-Weekend At Bernie’s premise may only result in moderate grosses.

Johansson plays Jess, a career-oriented woman running for state senate. With her wedding just around the corner, she prepares for an out-of-town bachelorette party thrown by Alice (Bell), her needy best friend who wants to ensure it’s the most amazing weekend of her life. Alongside college pals Blair (Kravitz) and Frankie (Glazer) - and her kooky Australian buddy Pippa (McKinnon) - Jess heads to Miami to sow her wild oats. Unfortunately, their partying leads to the accidental death of a male stripper - and an anxious aftermath in which the women must decide how they’ll hide what they’ve done.

The feature directorial debut of Lucia Aniello, a writer and director on the acclaimed cult sitcom Broad City, Rough Night sets up an awkward tension between Jess and Alice, who were close at school but have drifted apart in recent years. In the midst of this cocaine and booze-fuelled evening, which culminates in the stripper’s death, these two characters aren’t just contending with the possibility of a prison sentence but the immutable fact that they just don’t have much in common anymore.

Aniello, who scripted Rough Night with her writing partner Paul W. Downs (who plays Jess’s ultra-sensitive fiancé Peter), wants to craft a raucous dark comedy with a little heart underneath. …

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