Rough Night (2 stars)

Rough Night

Desperately disappointing comedy that squanders a whole raft of female talent

Following in the wake of the side-splitting Girls Trip and joining the brazenly ignoble tradition of Bridesmaids and Bachelorette, Rough Night gathers together an enviable female ensemble. Unfortunately this 'women go wild' movie comes with a twist. The twist being that it sucks.

It's not hard to see why someone would take a punt on first-time filmmaker Lucia Aniello. A regular writer and director on raucous sitcom Broad City, she brings with her one of that show's stars Ilana Glazer. Add in kick-ass A-lister Scarlett Johansson, the wonderful Kate McKinnon, scene-stealer Jillian Bell (22 Jump Street) and Zoë Kravitz – fresh off small-screen stunner Big Little Lies – and Rough Night amounts to a promising prospect indeed. The quintet head to Miami for the hen-do of Johansson's Jess and, a whole load of cocaine later, there's a body to be disposed of.

Although not best-known for her comic chops, Johansson is great at drollery (and in several game SNL appearances has gotten a lot sillier); sadly she's stiff here, as is Kravitz, and Bell and Glazer feel hemmed in. McKinnon fares slightly better as Jess's Australian buddy ('Singer-songwriter is the dream, party clown is the reality') but as a whole they lack chemistry, while none of the above are well-served by a script which throws out one good gag in ten. Co-writer Paul W Downs (also of Broad City fame) seems to have pocketed the best material for himself, as his drippy fiancé spends an uptight evening tasting wine, dons an adult diaper for a relationship-saving road-trip and plays matchmaker at a service station.

Like so many mainstream comedies, this debut feature feels the need to shoehorn in an action-thriller element and it leans hard on lazy staples – 'good time' montages roll, recriminations about spending time together fly back and forth – however, unlike Girls Trip, it isn't fresh, funny or anarchic enough in-between to win you over. Attempts to address emotional issues and to get topical feel half-arsed: the clean-cut, conscientious Jess is an aspiring State Senator running against a rival with Anthony Weiner-like weaknesses and struggling Hillary-style; legal injustices relating to women are touched upon but nowhere near enough for the group's behaviour to actually make sense.

Rough Night lacks the light touch of farce, the shrewdness of satire, nor is it consistently dark enough to succeed as a black comedy, while the end is so shamelessly fudged it's like everyone involved simply stopped caring. When Weekend at Bernie's does it better you know you're in trouble.

General release from Fri 25 Aug.

Rough Night

  • 2 stars
  • 2017
  • US
  • 1h 41min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Lucia Aniello
  • Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Zoë Kravitz, Kate McKinnon
  • UK release: 25 August 2017

Jess (Johansson) and her friends go to her Miami for her hen party, and a load of cocaine later there’s a body to dispose of. Johansson’s gift for comedy isn’t allowed to shine, the script relies on lazy staples and the gang lacks chemistry. Not light enough for farce, not shrewd enough for satire and not dark enough for…