Film Review: Bachelorette

31 Aug

Isla Fisher, Kirsten Dunst, and Lizzy Caplan in Bachelorette

Writer / Director Leslye Headland’s script for Bachelorette made the 2008 Black List (a yearly compilation of the industry’s “most liked” unproduced screenplays), so don’t assume it’s a rip-off of last year’s Bridesmaids.  Made on a smaller budget and therefore less polished than Kristen Wiig’s box office hit, Headland’s film is a beast all its own – a beast so fierce it makes Bridesmaids look like a Disney film.

In Bachelorette, four high school friends who are now in their early thirties come together for the wedding of portly Becky (Rebel Wilson) whom the other three tend to ridicule and whom they never expected to beat them to the altar.

The one who lives closest to Becky is Regan (Kirsten Dunst), a no-nonsense Type A who takes charge of putting together the pre-nuptial festivities.  As one of the friends explains, “You know how there are serial killers and then there’s Hannibal Lecter?  Well, there are women, and then there’s Regan.”

Then there are the other two, Gena (Lizzy Caplan) and Katie (Isla Fisher), who fly in from out of town and just want to party.  With lots of cocaine.  Gena learns that her high school ex-boyfriend (Adam Scott) will be a groomsman at the wedding, and Katie reunites with another groomsman (Kyle Bornheimer) who, we learn, had had a crush on her in high school, back when she was copying his homework for a class she doesn’t even remember taking.

It takes some time to get used to the first ten minutes of the film’s raw vibe, but once you hit the point where the main conflict begins, you’ll be hooked to the end.  Absolutely nothing if not entertaining, Bachelorette is an intense hour and a half of laughing about things you feel guilty for laughing about.

That said, there will be a lot of people who won’t like this movie.  The film doesn’t flinch, not even one tiny bit, from frank talk about things like coke, bulimia and overdosing on Xanax.  So it’s not a film for the easily offended.  It’s also not a film for those looking for a self-improvement sermon.  There are no noble metamorphoses, no great realizations by our “bad girl” characters that they must amend their terrible flaws (or risk dying alone!).  There’s no solid character arc, that relentless demand of screenwriting workshops everywhere.  In this one, the crazy pretty much stays crazy.

The best thing is that the characters do ring true to life.  In particular, Regan’s pure verbal aggression is refreshing in a film world of sweet manic pixie dreamgirls.  The Dunst character is like plenty of real people in that they often do the right thing for their best friends; it’s just that they don’t always do it with a smile on their face.

Party girl Gena also seems genuine.  So often in films the party girl ends up being one-dimensional as we see her only from the main male character’s point of view.  She has no past, no feelings, no life.  In Headland’s story, we see Gena’s life from her own perspective, which involves a grudge she holds against her ex-boyfriend for not driving her to the abortion she had in high school.  (Instead Regan had had to do it, which Regan has no problem reminding her in one scene.)  The only character who doesn’t ring true is Katie, the ditzy one.  Dumb AND pretty AND willing to get together with the dorky nice guy who has a crush on her, she seems more of a stereotype than the others — though she does have some excellent lines.  (“You had an abortion without me?!”)

This movie is like one of those fascinating, drag-it-all-out-into-the-open breakdowns you see inebriated people having very late at night in public places.  You feel somehow that you shouldn’t be watching, but at the same time you just can’t look away.

Final Verdict:  Unapologetically uncouth, Bachelorette will offend some, but those who can handle its raw brand of humor are in for a crazy fun ride.



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