'Rough Night' is a Raunchy Romp With Some Funny Ladies

Female-led raunch-comedies have become their own sub-genre after the success of Bridesmaids in 2011. However, showing ladies doing dirty things is a filmmaking format that can easily swing from being something subversively hilarious to being something silly and gross for grossness' sake. Rough Night falls somewhere in between those two poles, offering a comedy experience that is unapologetically silly and gross, while still managing to subvert a few gender role stereotypes.

The story follows four college roommates, who years later find themselves living very different lives. Jess (Scarlett Johansson) has traded her party days for a 'perfect life' with her political career and fiancee, Peter (Paul W. Downs); her clingy friend Alice (Jillian Bell) spends her days as a teacher trying to wax nostalgic about the past; their friend Blair (Zoë Kravitz) finds her upscale NYC life and perfect marriage crumbling; and hardcore activist Frankie (Ilana Glazer) is just trying to get by.

When the milestone occasion of Jess' bachelorette party arrives, the girls reunite in Miami for a weekend of craziness. However, their balance is thrown off by the surprise inclusion of Jess' new Australian friend, Pippa (Kate McKinnon), which leads to a downward spiral of events involving booze, drugs, escorts, swingers - and a murder, just for good measure.

Rought Night (reviews) featuring Scarlett Johansson Kate McKinnon and Jillian Bell

Rough Night is the first feature film from Lucia Aniello, who is best known for directing a bulk of episodes from the hit comedy series, Broad City. As the director and co-writer of the film, Aniello takes a somewhat simplistic approach to the narrative (both visually and storywise), but her comedic sensibilities are sharp, and she wisely trusts in her impressive cast to deliver the goods (which they do, and then some).

The film sticks like glue to the standard formula of single-night comedic misadventures, keeping the momentum up through a moment-to-moment 'cause and effect' unfolding of events. It's almost like a series of sitcoms mashed into one - though in an organic way that never feels overly improvised (like Bridesmaids). As stated, the storyline by Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs is pretty much your boiler-plate single night romp, with a few fun twists and hilarious comedic highlights, but otherwise a predictable progression of hijinks, conflicts, and heartfelt resolutions. If there is anything unique about the film, it's the depiction of the male characters in a hilarious reversal of standard gender roles.

What really makes Rough Night shine is the cast, which is top-notch. The comedic/dramatic chemistry between the four main girls is strong, while the supporting cast and celebrity cameo appearances (won't spoil them here) result in some of the film's best scenes. Of the entire cast, it's McKinnon and Bell that are the clear standouts, trading hilarious barbs as Jess' competing BFFs, and respectively creating their own hilarious moments all throughout the film.

Rought Night (reviews) featuring Scarlett Johansson Kate McKinnon and Jillian Bell

In the end, Rough Night is a better "girls night out" film than something like Bad Moms, offering a genuinely sharp and effective comedic depiction of "girls behaving badly" and totally not giving a F.

Rough Night will be in theaters on June 16th. It is 1 hour and 41 minutes long and is rated R for crude sexual content, language throughout, drug use and brief bloody images.


Review Score: 2.5 out of 5 Stars

Photo Credit: Sony Pictures