Aida Vucic | 16/06/2017
Seemingly inspired by the lyrics “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody” Rough Night is an indulgent comedy that deals in erratic and bizarre female relationships at its core. It closely mirrors the efforts of Bridesmaids, which, after the Hangover series, was a welcomed relief to a heavily male-monopolised genre.
Rough Night begins with a flashback to younger versions of our protagonists in 2006. We meet our partying young girl squad, bucking the recent trend of expensive CGI-de-aging processes of mega-stars by having Scarlett Johansson instead just wear a slightly longer wig. Flash-forward to 2016 and Jess (Scarlett Johansson) seems to have toned down her wicked ways. Indeed, she is now running for State Congress against an opponent whose dick pics are more popular than her dry campaign. On top of the stress of running for electoral office, she’s due to be wed to her adoring fiancé Peter (Paul W. Downs). Luckily for us, it won’t be before she has a bachelorette party, organised by her BFF Alice (Jillan Bell). Joining them are ex-girlfriends Frankie (Ilana Glazer) and Blair (Zoë Kravitz), as well as Peppa (Kate McKinnon); Jess’ friend from her Australian exchange.
The group are an unlikely mix. You’ve got your classic activist, your uptight alcoholic corporate, your random spiritual guru and your overbearing friend. Mix these character archetypes with a little bit of cocaine, alcohol and the clubs of Miami, and suddenly we’ve got ourselves quite the party. If, thinking of a Bachelorette party, you feel that what this estrogen-filled extravaganza might be in need of is a bit of red-hot testosterone before Jess abandons single life for good, then you’re definitely thinking along the same line as Jess’s friends. After a quick search on Craigslist, one Scotty-McBody show’s up for a good old-time, only to be accidently killed by our motley group, who spend the remains of the evening attempting to get rid of his body. No body, no crime!
With three of the cast solid comedians in their own right, the collaboration brings a strong and solid comedic bent to the film. Certainly, the relatively high hit rate of jokes makes up for the shambled, plot-hole filled storyline. However, even solid comedy can’t knock the films expert handling of a lesbian relationship from its position as the strongest element of the movie. Director Lucia Aniello doesn’t patronise or coddle the audience, instead using the talents of Kravitz and Glazer to tremendous effect in crafting a believable relationship that you actually care for, while avoiding the many potential pitfalls and stereotypes so many other filmmakers fall into. This mimics the overall strong female-positive sexual message endorsed throughout the film. Unlike other female comedians, who are set on publicising their sexual escapades and going head-to-head with their male counterparts for the pursuit of the audiences laugh, Rough Night tries for a less obnoxious and more deeply felt humour. Rough Night, like Bridesmaid’s before it, is refreshing - allowing us to experience the female protagonist’s embrace of the ups and downs of womanhood, while not succumbing to the low brow humour often seen in male driven comedies.
Instead we have an excellent cast delivering mediocre material. McKinnon gives a stellar Australian accent (and we’d know - we’re Australian). Bell kills it with her crazy eyes, while Glazer transfers her already well established street style to the big screen. While they may not be known for their comedic talent, Johansson and Kravitz do a great job keeping up. Even Paul and his band of groomsmen provide some laughs, with their ‘light’ bachelor night (a great subversion of societal expectations as to the typical boisterous bucks night), but without taking the attention away from the leading ladies.
It’s clear that there are still some kinks to straighten out in terms of making a strong female driven comedy, but, while it won’t be winning any awards for innovation or quality dialogue, Rough Night comes pretty close!