On The Big Screen Reviews

Rough Night – Review

At its best subverting gender norms

An excellent cast brings together a bunch of college girlfriends celebrating a Hen’s weekend away in sunny Miami. Drunk and high, one of the women accidentally killed a stripper from Craig’s List. Their friendships are examined as the weekend unfolds and confronting their guilt.

There is an interesting gender reversal that is strong within Rough Night; the women are outrageous, drunk, and boisterous. The men on their Buck’s weekend are tasting wine demurely and discussing their feelings. Despite being ridiculous  outlandish, this switch of perceptions As you sit there watching these women callously discuss the dead man, it strikes you that they seem worse than similar male movie leads and that might be because these are not stereotypical female responses.

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Scarlett Johansson as the bride to be doesn’t have much here to stretch her proven abilities and is surrounded by wonderful actresses that the world is just getting to know such as Jillian Bell and Llana Glazer, (who are funnily enough with crude female portraits in shows such as Broad City and Idiotsitter.) 

Then there’s Kate McKinnon’s character Pippa who speaks with an horrendous Aussie accent. There’s a few words that sound Aussie, but otherwise, her accent sounds like it’s part of a punchline that was cut from the film. Dialogue coaches, people! McKinnon’s character is smaller than the others, however, it’s her post-credits song that will remind you of the joy that it is to watch her. Bell’s character is that friend that’s been in your life forever and sometimes you question why. Their dancing around friendships changing over time is not fully explored; it’s used as a shortcut to pull on the emotional heartstrings. Having the only woman who wasn’t Hollywood skinny killing the stripper in the way that he died felt slightly off.

Another welcomed aspect is the bisexuality of Zoe Kravitz’ Blair. Her relationship with males and females is treated as standard, a welcome no-fuss approach to diversity and inclusion. Blair’s on/off relationship with Glazer’s Frankie is lovely to embrace.

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An easy comparison can be made with Very Bad Things, where a group of men accidentally kill a prostitute on a Stag’s night. Early on, Rough Night plays with a similar darkness, but ultimately, shies away from that edge of dark comedy and aims for a more light-hearted approach. How light hearted can accidental murder be? Stacked with a cast of actors with great comic timing, Rough Night gives it a fair shot. Rough Night is funny and well-paced, though it falls short. The tonal shift part way through, makes it seem there were other paths not taken.

Written by Broad City alumni Lucia Aniello and Paul W Downs, this comedy is at it’s when strongest subverting gender norms. A pretty good way to spend a film budget.

Rough Night is out 25th August

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