Chemistry Makes Rough Night Surprisingly Smooth

(L to R) Blair (Zo‘ Kravitz), Alice (Jillian Bell), Jess (Scarlett Johansson), Frankie (Illana Grazer) and Pippa (Kate McKinnon). Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

There’s no denying Rough Night draws inspiration from a number of successful comedies—Very Bad Things, Bridesmaids and The Hangover among them. But it’s the chemistry among the film’s cast that generates something special and downright hilarious.

The story follows five friends on a bachelorette weekend for the prim and proper Jess (Scarlett Johansson), who’s traded her party days for politics and the incredibly sensitive Peter (film co-writer Paul W. Downs). Joined by the “lethally horny” Alice (Jillian Bell), well-off Blair (Zoë Kravitz), “fuck the man” Frankie (Ilana Glazer) and Australian sensation Pippa (Kate McKinnon), Jess and crew do what anyone in Miami would do: Snort a bunch of cocaine, perform synchronized dances to “My Neck, My Back” and accidentally kill a stripper.

Shenanigans, of course, ensue when they try to hide said stripper’s body. Farce is expected, but Rough Night takes much of what audiences have seen in similar comedies and flips it on its head (you’ll never hear pizza or see wax strips the same way again).

Broad City’s Lucia Aniello’s writing brings just the right amount of femininity and relatability to each scene with sharp, punchy and well-timed dialogue. Chemistry is evident between these women and their camaraderie is believable—not a glance nor a wink is mistimed or misrepresented. And that’s even before Demi Moore and Modern Family’s Ty Burrell show up as the very open couple Pietro and Lea.

Even with such star power, McKinnon swoops in to steal the spotlight with her rib-shakingly funny Australian accent, rivaled only by Bell’s shameless fixation with stripper peen. Johansson’s performance is another pleasant surprise, her deadpan delivery just right. And if we’re talking package deals, Glazer and Kravitz make the ultimate one. The actresses communicate so naturally, you’d think they spent years bickering as much as their characters do in the movie.

Overall, Rough Night might not break any new ground, but it does expand well on what’s already been done.  

★★★★✩

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