If bridal parties in real life behaved like the bridal parties in film, everyone would elope. “Bachelorette” will most certainly be compared to both “The Hangover” and “Bridesmaids,” but that comparison is not fair to those movies. Leslye Headland wrote and directed this adaptation of her off-Broadway play a year before “Bridesmaids” was released. Her story of the most unlikable group of women since “Sex and the City II” shares little with those far superior films besides a wedding-related misadventure.
The characters in “Bridesmaids” do and say some stupid things, but they are, at heart, good people. “The Hangover” crew isn’t so nice, but at least they are the butt of the joke. But the biggest difference between “Bachelorette” and its so-called peer films is that the other characters actually like the person who is getting married. The women of “Bachelorette” turn the story into one long, cruel fat girl joke punctuated by a “just kidding” ending.
In “Bachelorette” three emotionally arrested Mean Girls are asked to be bridesmaids by their token scapegoat, Becky (Rebel Wilson). In high school, they dubbed Becky “Pig Face,” and have thought about her in those terms ever since. According to the movies, weddings are the most significant event in every woman’s life. The troika are furious that not only is Becky walking down the aisle before them, her groom is one of the richest, most handsome men in New York City. It boggles their minds that Becky would be able to score a man who is essentially the prom king of the adult world.
In fact, much about the adult world confounds these women. If they each had their own derisive nickname, Katie (Isla Fisher) would be “Dense Face”; Gena (Lizzy Caplan) would be “Tramp Face” and let’s just give Regan (Kirsten Dunst), the group’s leader, the all-encompassing moniker, “Cunt Face.” I’m usually happy to see any of these actresses on screen. Dunst generally brings a lot of heart to her ice queen roles. Isla Fisher is a flawless comedienne, able to completely transform herself into whatever the script calls for. Lizzy Caplan has already proven that she can play a loveable fuckup. But Headland’s script is so lacking in depth, that they have nowhere to go besides what’s on the page.
Regan is the most wounded about the wedding, wondering why her hard-won beauty and success haven’t scored her a husband. She serves her Maid of Honor duties under cover, pretending to respect Becky to her face and ripping her apart when she is out of earshot. Katie has a vague idea that she “might be stupid,” but she doesn’t let that humble her, using people whenever possible and getting away with it because of her looks. Gena walks through much of the movie a complete sociopath, seeing those around her as little more than annoying little insects that sometimes prevent her from doing all the cocaine. She is closest thing “Bachelorette” has to a whole person, but that’s not saying much considering her most likeable quality is that she’s sad about her ex-boyfriend and the teenage abortion they shared.
Nonetheless, it is Gena’s storyline that provides the film’s one redeeming quality: Adam Scott. As usual, his affable-as-hell little face is like a golden turd in an overflowing cat box. I’m always happy to see him, even when the stench of a film is insufferable. (In fact, one of the two stars I gave this film belongs entirely to him.) Scott plays Clyde, the aforementioned ex, who also happens to be a groomsman in the wedding (just go with it). The only reason this pairing makes any sense is because Caplan and Scott have an established chemistry from their time together on “Party Down.”
That Becky would invite these terrible people, whom she hasn’t seen since her formative years, to play such a major part in her wedding, is baffling. But it is crucial to the plot. It is only by being bridesmaids that they have access to the wedding dress, which they accidentally destroy in a moment of insanely cruel drunken shenanigans. The troika spends the rest of the film running amok in New York under the guise of trying to fix or replace the dress. In the meantime, they do loads of drugs, visit a strip club, navigate male genitalia, take shots, insult people, do more drugs and then abruptly decide that they want to change their evil ways just in time to save the day they were responsible for almost ruining.
Headland seems to have been so busy thinking up “shocking” scenarios that she forgot to write any real jokes (unless you think an overdose is funny). It’s not the crudity of these women that offends. It’s their complete lack of integrity. I have plenty of time for characters with sexual confidence and profane bluntness but not so much for those who use their powers to demean everyone who crosses their path. Even then, I can enjoy a film about abhorrent people so long as they get their comeuppance, or end up alone with their misery (see “Very Bad Things” for an example on how to properly execute this maneuver). Instead, Headland expects her audience to accept her characters’ all-too-convenient third act changes of heart. I’d be shocked that Becky forgives them for nearly ruining her wedding, if she had any personality at all besides being completely comfortable with herself.
It doesn’t help that we are completely in the dark about Becky and Dale’s relationship. They rarely share a scene and she never really talks about him or he about her. It’s not that they are an unlikely couple. It’s that SO MUCH is made of Becky being a “fat loser” that it feels like it could turn into “Carrie” at any moment. Actually, a telekinetic wedding massacre would have improved this movie tremendously.
Originally published on FilmThreat.com (now defunct).
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