By Stephanie Brandhuber
After Judd Apatow’s 2011 Oscar-nominated Bridesmaids seemed to finally get universal acknowledgement that yes, women are allowed to be funny, it would only be natural to assume that Hollywood would be gagging to seize upon the diverse array of female comics to star in their blockbuster hits. Sadly, however, after the disappointing box-office results of Paul Feig’s all-female Ghostbusters and a slew of ill-performing women-led comedies such as The Heat, and Bad Moms, it seems like successful female-driven comedies are still missing from the present cinematic landscape.
Rough Night, starring an ensemble cast featuring Scarlett Johansson, Jillian bell, Zoë Kravitz, Ilana Glazer, and Kate McKinnon is unfortunately not a contender in the slow race to beat Bridesmaid’s success, despite how desperately it may try.
A crass cross between a female version of The Hangover and Weekend At Bernie’s, Rough Night follows a group of women on a debauched hen night in Miami that doesn’t seem to go quite to plan when they end up with a dead stripper on their hands. There’s a fine line to tread when making a film about “women behaving badly,” and it is very easy to stumble into the dangerous territory of the grotesque.
Allowing women to be crude and vulgar somehow poses a bigger threat to audience reception than any male-driven comedy ever has, which is possibly why films like The Sweetest Thing and Bad Teacher, films that attempted to bring equality to the gross-out subgenre, have failed so miserably. Rough Night is unscrupulously unsubtle in its attempt to convince audiences that women can behave just as badly as men, and scenes showing the stark contrast between their hen-do and the men’s stag night in the film (the men go wine tasting) seems like a desperate cry for undeserved laughs, rather than any kind of bold statement about women’s freedom to have fun.
It’s a shame that Rough Night concentrates on their need for gratuitous laughs (which sadly don’t deliver) rather than taking advantage of the sheer scope of talent available from the hilarious women in their ensemble. Somewhere between the tenth line of coke snorted and the umpteenth vibrator joke, there could have been room to let these comediennes shine. Sadly however, the glass ceiling the film is so desperate to break remains unscathed, and like the morning after a night on the town, Rough Night will leave you struggling to remember it.
(Photos copyright: Paulilu Productions, Sony Pictures Entertainment)