Scarlett Johansson has carved a nice niche for herself on screen over the years. She has triumphed in dramas, big and small, action movies, both blockbuster and more independent, and now with the arrival of Rough Night, the actress shows she can be an integral spoke in the wheel of a comedic ensemble with the best of them.

When two of the cast members of Rough Night are a pair of the most talented funny ladies working today, Jillian Bell and Kate McKinnon, that is high praise for the Oscar nominated actress. It takes a special skill to be part of a comedic ensemble and know when your beats are to be hit and when to just step back and let others ride the laugh lightning. Then again, if you have seen Johansson on Saturday Night Live, we know she can be funny… she just needed a vehicle like Rough Night.

Johansson portrays Jess, who is embarking on her party weekend in Miami with four of her BFFs. Four of them, Bell’s Alice, Zoe Kravitz’s Blair, Ilana Glazer’s Frankie and Jess all met at George Washington University and have remained close ever since. The fifth wheel, who is hardly that in reality, is McKinnon’s Pippa, aka Kiwi, an Australian that Jess met on her Down Under semester abroad who fits in awkwardly at first with the group, but eventually as this plot takes off, becomes just one of the girls.

After a raucous night out at the club that includes all sorts of party favors, the ladies head home to be entertained by a stripper. As seen in the Rough Night trailer, said stripper accidentally gets killed — no plot giveaways here! What will this quintet of comedy queens do next?

See, comedy challenges arise when you are building a comedy and the central aspect of the entire story revolves around someone dying. Clearly, death is not funny. But, if handled in such a way that invokes memories of Very Bad Things, The Hangover and Weekend at Bernie’s, it can be done. That is exactly what occurs with Rough Night. And the fact that this cast is up for the challenge of navigating this comedic minefield gives director Lucia Aniello (Broad City) a multitude of avenues to pursue hilarity, heart and yes… truth. The latter is one difficult element to achieve on film, regardless of the genre. Specifically in a comedy where an accidental killing propels the plot, the line between what the audience will buy into and reject is razor thin.

Aniello also co-wrote the script (with Paul W. Downs) and as such, she is intimately involved in the nuances of the story from every angle imaginable and as such there is a firm control of the picture from start to finish — something that seems to be exceedingly more difficult for comedies to achieve these days.

Saluting the cast has to start with Johansson. Being part of a performing group whose primary focus is delivering laughs is a high wire act, particularly in a situational comedy. Like an engineer working an audio board in a recording studio, the actress knows when to come in hot and when to pull back and play it cool as the others around her take their moments to shine. We hope her turn in Rough Night results in Johansson getting more work in this comedy realm, specifically serving as a piece in a humorous puzzle.

McKinnon yet again steals scenes left and right and overall, steals the entire movie as she has been doing for several years now, most recently in Ghostbusters and Office Christmas Party. The SNL star even nails the Australian accent (no easy task) and does so in such a manner that her precise use of Aussie tonal inflection only adds to the humor in the most opportune times… usually when things with our dead body appear to be having our Fab Five drifting into some serious trouble territory. McKinnon is ready for a headlining movie role, but it has us wondering. Perhaps she is content being a scene-stealer and doing her part to elevate each project she’s in to a level that would not exist without her participation.

Bell too has been stealing scenes and the films she’s in for years. Ever the pros, she and McKinnon still manage to firmly lie in the ensemble and never rear their talented chops at the expense of any other actress, scene or the film itself. Only someone of her caliber could pull of the grimmest of lines and produce laugh-out-loud moments for minutes as she repeats, “I killed a guy. So… I killed a guy.”

Not to be left out, Broad City star Glazer and Kravitz round out our bridal party in such a way that they add comedic colors to this raucous rainbow of raunchy fun. It is also our hope that Kravitz too will get more comedy work after seeing what she does with the opportunity given in Rough Night.

The surprise wild card in this female-centric comedy is the actor who plays Jess’ soon-to-be-husband, Peter. Paul W. Downs delivers some of the most hilarious moments in the entire film. Let’s just say there’s a long road trip involved at one point that finds him wearing adult diapers with no pants, guzzling Red Bull and a southern policeman who isn’t quite sure what the heck he are dealing with when Peter gets pulled over for speeding. His entire storyline enriches the laugh potential of the entire film and also grounds it in a reality that is essential to bookend the lunacy that is happening in Miami.

It must be said that Rough Night is not a laugh a minute comedy that some may think it should be given the marketing of the flick. Yes, there are several LOL moments strewn throughout. But this is a raunchy comedy that goes deeper for its laughs. It has filmmakers possessing the presence of mind to not hit the audience over its collective head with jokes that would detract from the wholeness of the film. Thus, when people reflect on it later on — long after those laughs have been emitted in the theater — there will still be smiles to be had.

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