They say there are two types of Scarlett Johansson fans: those who picture her in pink underwear in Sofia Coppola's dreamy debut, and those who think of black leather rather than blush-colored garments — fans of Black Widow and her skintight combat suits. Yet while the Danish-American actress has proven the extent of her skills both in dramatic indies and splashy, action-packed blockbusters, we hear little of her comedic talent.
That's hopefully bound to change after Rough Night, which I hate to sum up as the female take on The Hangover but is indeed easy to sell as such. The premise is a summer popcorn movie standard: A group of ladies go to Miami to celebrate their best friend's bachelorette party, but the party goes horribly wrong when the stripper for hire bashes his head on the corner of the TV table.
ScarJo's goody two shoes character, desperate to make a career in politics and more eager to read her emails than to have sex with her fiancé, is a complete U-turn from her incarnation of Major in this year's live-action adaptation of Ghost in the Shell. The big-budget take on the popular manga and anime series was met with a lukewarm reception by audiences and critics, and didn't seem to put so much emphasis on Johansson's talent as an actress as much as the jaw-dropping CGI.
After several Marvel movies, her Black Widow persona is obviously more fleshed out — and should finally obtain the solo movie she so clearly deserves. But until that time comes, the Avengers franchise, as far as Johansson is concerned, just acts as a constant reminder that she should be carrying so many more scenes. Despite not being covered in machinery like Iron Man, or blessed with extra muscle like Captain America, her unfazed attitude, dry wit and extraordinary spy skills have made her a major character of the Marvel universe.
That might also be the reason not all Johansson fans will be aware that she can do so much more. After all, did you know that she won a Tony Award for her performance in the Broadway play A View From the Bridge in 2010? She also regularly shines on Saturday Night Live, where she recently bounced off Ivanka Trump's use of the term "complicit" in a merciless fake perfume commercial.
As such, it's refreshing to see her relying more on her comedic chops. In Rough Night, she manages to not be outshone by the heavy talent present, from Kate McKinnon's hysterical over-the-top Australian hippie to Jillian Bell's classic party girl. Her character, Jess, went through the typical drunken college experience but now a working lady, she's not so keen on the whole bachelorette party idea. If she's already freaking out at the idea of doing drugs and not being allowed by her friends to call her soon-to-be hubby every 10 minutes, you can only imagine her reaction at the sight of a dead stripper in the mansion they borrowed for the weekend.
Johansson manages to make Jess a little stupid and stuck-up, yet likable, like a sanity buoy in the ocean of madness that unfolds around her. From the start, you want to see more of her careless college party days, but you're soon rewarded with an even more laughable kind of naiveté when she tries and miserably fails to shoot a charismatic campaign spot. She's perfectly credible as the well-intentioned, but completely beside the point politician whose bubble no one dares to burst.
Overall, Rough Night is packed with laughs and good-hearted absurdity. Hopefully the experience will encourage Johansson to lay off the heavy, serious mega blockbusters time and again, and indulge more in the purely silly fun.
What's your favorite Scarlett Johansson movie?