by Hope Madden
I did not have high expectations for this one, I’m not going to lie. Though the raunchy trailer offered a couple chuckles, I couldn’t help but think two things.
1) What is Scarlett Johansson doing in a “girls weekend” movie?
2) Isn’t this the same premise as Peter Berg’s 1998 black comedy Very Bad Things?
That first one is tough to answer, but the second is a very loud yes.
ScarJo plays Jess, wholesome politician lured into a bachelorette weekend with her college besties. She’s hoping for a quiet night, but she’s quickly guilted into binge drinking, casual drug use and, of course, a stripper.
Things get dark after that.
Yes, cinematic bachelor/bachelorette party zaniness is beyond tired. Still, there’s reason for hope. This cast, for instance.
Johansson is among the most talented and versatile actors working, as at ease with comedy as she is drama. Zoe Kravitz is strong as well, but the real reason for optimism is the rest of the party.
Kate McKinnon – flat out hilarious and able to steal scenes at will from anybody.
Ilana Glazer (Broad City) – effortlessly wrong-minded and hilarious.
Jillian Bell (Workaholics) – maybe the wrong-mindedest of them all.
The trio delivers, McKinnon in particular. Boasting that crazy-eye thing she does, as well as a ridiculous Aussie accent, her every moment on screen brings with it a “what exactly is she doing” quality that can’t help but infuse even flat scenes with a little electricity.
And there are flat scenes. Lucia Aniello makes her feature directing debut, working from a script she co-wrote with fellow Broad City alum Paul W. Downs (who also co-stars as Jess’s fiancé). Too much feels borrowed and several of the longer bits go nowhere.
But she and DownS are blessed with performers who know what to do with the material. Each creates a distinct and memorable personality. And the whole film has some fun at the expense of the state of Florida’s questionable laws.
There’s nothing new here. Honestly, nothing. But What Aniello and her talented cast do with a variety of set-ups is sometimes inspired and often very funny.