Bachelorette (USA) Directed by Leslye Headland Written by Leslye Headland Starring Kirsten Dunst; Isla Fisher; Lizzy Kaplan; Rebel Wilson; James Marsden; Adam Scott; Hayes MacArthur; Kyle Bornheimer; Horatio Sands; Arden Myrin; Andrew Rannels; Ella Rae Peck
Comparisons to The Hangover and, especially, Bridesmaids are, of course, inescapable. Written and directed by Leslye Headland, the film varies very little from the course one would expect. In this one the bride-to-be, Becky (Rebel Wilson), is the overweight/ugly duckling in the group, cruelly nicknamed Pig-Face by her supposed friends since high school, a fact that is frankly hard to get beyond, and one that is reinforced by their current day attitude toward her. The three bridesmaids we actually get to know (there are more but we are told they aren’t part of this group of friends) are insecure/unhappy/hard-partying/slutty/control-freak/mean girl blonde Regan (Kristen Dunst); super dumb/slutty/unhappy/hard-partying red head Katie (Isla Fisher); and hard-partying/slutty/unhappy/angry/sarcastic brunette girl Gena (Lizzy Kaplan).
After some minor build up, the film revolves around the ensuing chaos surrounding the drug and alcohol fueled night before the nuptials. There are some laughs to be had, and the cast is solid, though it’s difficult to know whether to applaud the chances the film takes by focusing on this threesome of largely unlikeable protagonists, or chastise the creators for using a plus sized, average looking woman as a butt of jokes. Is this approach akin to resorting to the lowest form of mean, cheap shot humor, or is it merely doing the same thing as poking fun at Zach Galifinakis’ overweight character in The Hangover or Melissa McCarthy’s in Bridesmaids?
Perhaps because Becky is painted as something of a good natured innocent as opposed to the previously mentioned characters, who have their own set of oddball baggage and can be offensive in their own right, there is something different here that feels gratuitously cruel? In the same breath, is it possible that there is some level of deeper commentary going on about the nature of female relationships? Is making a comedy about women who are angry, cynical, promiscuous substance abusers some form of equal opportunity? There are certainly enough examples of their male counterparts to point to in modern comedies.
Regardless, Bachelorette does a fair job of weaving in some reasonable scenes having to do with the disillusionment and unhappiness of the three bridesmaids. In fact, Caplan, Dunst, and Fisher are strong enough that there is the feeling that the entire wedding set-up could have been dropped for a more narrow film about single women in their late twenties/early thirties who are dissatisfied with their life options. Since the Becky character isn’t allowed the full breadth of a living, breathing human being, the artifice of the wedding seems like one big excuse to put the people the film really cares about in one place with a common mission.
What results is a short-shrifting of both the friendship between the bridesmaids, as well as their budding relationships with the male love interest characters played by Adam Scott, James Marsden, and Kyle Bornheimer. While there are some relatively funny bits, including some requisite over-the-top/gross-out shocker moments; and admittedly there is also a certain vicarious thrill coming from observing attractive women behaving badly; the constrictions imposed by genre come with a hefty price as far too much time is devoted to the quest that is set up prior to the wedding.
Ultimately, the film seems like one that might have been a potentially interesting and funnier indie piece about the friendships and love/sexual relationships of a small group of young women, but instead comes off feeling overly packaged and uncomfortably fitted into a new sub genre that smothers the best parts of the film and reduces the story to something far less than it might have been.