Film Review – Bachelorette
The new raunchy comedy from writer/director Leslye Headlund, Bachelorette, can be a frustratingly manic-depressive experience for the viewer. On the one hand, this is a comedy with some strong on-screen talent, such as Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan, Isla Fisher, Rebel Wilson, Adam Scott, James Marsden, and Kyle Bornheimer. It also features some genuine heart and funny moments. On the other hand, you can definitely picture the pitch meeting where this film got green-lit: “Look, Bridesmaids was a big hit. The market is ready for more outrageous comedies where we prove the gals can be just as dirty as the guys are. We’ve got this fun script that’s been stuck in development hell for years, so let’s go out and get some of that sweet, sweet The Hangover Part 2 money and get this thing made!” Quite simply, so much of this movie is almost note-for-note derivative of other recent comedy hits that it drives you nuts.
Rebel Wilson plays Becky, who is basically a kinder, gentler version of Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids (this comparison isn’t helped by the fact that Wilson was in that movie as well). Becky is getting married to a genuinely good guy played by Hayes MacArthur. So her control-freak best friend, Regan (Dunst), is in charge of all of the wedding arrangements, including the bachelorette party. She gets the rest of the party girl bridesmaids (Caplan’s and Fisher’s characters) together for a rollicking night of debauchery the night before the wedding. Hi-jinks involving various bodily fluids getting on the wedding dress, male strippers embarrassing the bride-to-be, drugs, and semi-random hook-ups ensue. Of course, the whole issue of “will it all come together in time for the wedding?” becomes the ticking clock of the plot. And if you feel like you’ve heard this story before, you have.
However, there are some pretty big highlights. At about the midway point of the evening, the group of bachelorettes crosses paths with the group of bachelors out on their party at a strip club. The three bridesmaids end up splitting off with the three groomsmen in various ways. This is when the movie calms down for a while. Instead of being all over-the-top zaniness that’s trying too hard, we get some nice character moments. Bornheimer is sweet and smart as the guy who probably never got laid until after high school (according to Caplan’s character, guys who had to wait that long are so grateful when they finally get a girl they pay extra great attention). He has had a long-standing crush on Fisher’s fairly clueless Katie, whom he sat behind all through school. But as the evening wears on, we find he’s not the pathetic puppy dog that she assumes. She just wants to use him for a random one-night stand. He reveals himself worthy of more than that.
The greatest pairing of the movie has to be Lizzy Caplan as Gena reconnecting with Clyde (played by Scott), her boyfriend from when they were teenagers. These two performers are very natural together and their scenes play like a continuation of their roles on Party Down. It’s like they broke up after leaving the catering business from that show, tried to grow apart, and were drawn back together. They are funny and sweet and they share a real connection. And there is a small surprise reveal about what originally broke them up that adds some depth to their relationship. But then again, Bachelorette could also be trading on the goodwill these two already have with us, the audience, and using it to gain some extra caché that might not actually be there. See what I mean? Bi-polar reaction to the film. For most of its pluses, there are minuses. Arrgh.
Look, Bachelorette isn’t original. It is definitely in the vein of gross-out movies with a heart that we’ve gotten a lot of in recent years, like Superbad or Knocked Up or the ones previously mentioned. Maybe this is progress for women in film. Maybe we are getting to a state of maturity where female-centric movies can rip off other female-centric movies just like male-centric films have been doing for decades. But that’s probably wishful thinking. However, if you can get past the feeling of déjà vu, there are surely funny things in this film. It’s peopled with capable talent who are all having a good time. There are laughs to be had.
Final Grade: B-