Wonder Women Behaving Badly: Our Review of ‘Rough Night’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - June 16, 2017
Wonder Women Behaving Badly: Our Review of ‘Rough Night’

That Rough Night feels familiar isn’t really its own fault. And while it’s mainly the plot that’s not new – a bunch of friends get together for a wild evening and things goes absurdly out of hand with comedic and raunchy results – women haven’t really gotten the chance to trod this ground so often trampled by men.

Such stories written and directed by a woman (in this case, Rough Night is helmed by Lucia Aniello on a script she co-wrote with Paul W. Downs) are few and far between. It’s been some time since we let women behave badly, as told by other women. So nevermind that the set-up is a common one: the execution here is great.

Jess (Scarlett Johansson) is an aspiring local politician and fiance with a wedding and an election nearing. She steals away for a weekend though for a bachelorette party in Miami, spearheaded by bestie Alice (Jillian Bell) as well as friends and former partners Blair  (Zoe Kravitz) and Frankie (Ilana Glazer). All four partied in college together, and now some ten years later, their lives have taken different turns.

They are also joined by Jess’s Aussie friend Pippa (Kate McKinnon), and thus the five – the straight-laced, the partier, the hippie, the suit, and the outsider –  all convene for a weekend filled with booze, accidents, awkward encounters, and some serious emotional confrontations.

Even those stereotypes aren’t, really.  Because, refreshingly, there is a not wasted character or lull in a script that does enough to make you care about what’s going on and embrace the sheer ridiculousness of the escalating tomfoolery.  That includes hiring a prostitute and accidentally killing him after doing cocaine and ordering pizza, all of which takes place in a big glass house on the beach with neighbours who want to engage in some free love jubilation.

What’s more, the female gaze and female word in this film is so welcome – sex, drugs, femininity are dealt with in a way not so often seen on screen. It’s not subversion for subversion sake either. None of these five characters feels forced, and to dismiss them and their story to suggest none of it is worth it because men have done it so often before. While they are getting into trouble, Jess’s fiance is doing a wine tasting with his affluent and emotionally in tune friends. When Jess sends him a troubled message, he dons a diaper and chugs red bulls, driving to Miami as fast as possible.

Rough Night isn’t revolutionary, but it likely won’t be given the credit it deserves. Equal parts smart and silly, this is the kind of film that is made a few times a year, except with dudes who rarely are as interesting, and with writers who aren’t as clever.

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Anthony is a lover of a good story in any form, on any subject. Tirelessly navigating filmdom, he is equal parts an unbridled idealist and stubborn curmudgeon, trying to strike a balance between head and heart when it comes to pop culture. He pens stories about television, music, the environment, lifestyles, and all things noteworthy and peculiar.