Not just sexy, Scarlett Johansson is funny too in Rough Night

Scarlett Johansson (centre) is a bride-to-be who goes on a wild hen night with her friends (from left, Jillian Bell, Kate McKinnon, Zoe Kravitz and Ilana Glazer).
Scarlett Johansson (centre) is a bride-to-be who goes on a wild hen night with her friends (from left, Jillian Bell, Kate McKinnon, Zoe Kravitz and Ilana Glazer).PHOTO: SONY PICTURES RELEASING

REVIEW / COMEDY

ROUGH NIGHT (R21)

101 minutes/Opens today

2.5 stars

The story: Bride-to-be Jess (Scarlett Johansson) flies to Miami for a wild bachelorette weekend with her best friends from college - Alice (Jillian Bell), Frankie (Ilana Glazer), Blair (Zoe Kravitz) and Pippa (Kate McKinnon). Things go horribly wrong when they hire a shady male stripper for a night.

Women behaving badly, once considered a provocative movie subject, is now a norm for R-rated Hollywood comedies.

Since Bridesmaids (2011), in particular, women have been getting up to all sorts of naughtiness on screen and it is starting to feel tired.

If films such as Bad Moms (2016), Neighbours 2: Sorority Rising (2016) and Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016) are any indication, it appears that women often out-drink, out-poop and out-cuss their male counterparts.

You do not have to watch Rough Night to know that there will be alcohol and drugs involved and plenty of gross-out gags featuring genital parts, as if it were the female remake of The Hangover.

It is one thing to turn sexism on its head and show that women can still be real and funny; it is another thing altogether to gender-flip just for the sake of it.

It feels completely contrived here, for example, when the girls are out having their wild hen night, while the groom's side has a muted bachelor's night sipping Italian red wines.

Neither is the cause of feminism advanced when, for no apparent reason, an ordained minister at a wedding declares: "You may now kiss the groom."

The saving graces here are the performances by the charming cast.

Johansson may have carved out a career in recent years by playing a sexy, skilled assassin in The Avengers movies and Ghost In The Shell (2017), but she proves to be a natural comedian. Equal parts earnest and goofy, she is hilarious without ever coming across like she is trying too hard.

The other girls also have fun in their admittedly caricature-like roles. Saturday Night Live star Kate McKinnon, especially, is fantastic as the bug-eyed Aussie import, giving lessons about the difference between Australians and New Zealanders and showing off a number of the most ridiculous yoga-like physical comedy gags.

Unlike in Bridesmaids, however, the bond among the Rough Night girls never feels deeper than if they were merely a bunch of people who just happen to party together.

Still, it is fun while it lasts and completely forgettable by the next morning.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2017, with the headline 'Fun but forgettable girls' night out'. Print Edition | Subscribe