Directed by: Leslye Headland
Written by: Leslye Headland (screenplay)
Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan, Isla Fisher and Rebel Wilson
Writing Bachelorette off as a Bridesmaids cash-in would be to oversimplify it and also a great disservice to the movie’s writer and director. Leslye Headland originally conceived Bachelorette as an Off Broadway play in 2007. Now, is it possible that the movie adaptation got released largely because of the success of Bridesmaids? Certainly.
Really, though, the only thing these two movies have in common are their comic misfires of the bridal party. Bachelorette is a decidedly nastier and much more bitter type of comedy. The three women at its center, Regan (Kirsten Dunst), Gena (Lizzy Caplan) and Katie (Isla Fisher) are so disgustingly self-absorbed and cruel that they treat the wedding of their “friend” Becky (Rebel Wilson) as an excuse to do cocaine, hook up with groomsmen and open up old high school wounds.
Becky was the friend in high school that the other three kept around to feel better about themselves. She’s plump and somewhat naive, but she’s also the first of the group to get engaged. The movie’s first scene involves the conversation of her telling Regan about her future husband intercut with the furiously funny cell phone conference of Regan telling the other two.
After that, the rest of Bachelorette takes place on the night before the wedding, with the three women destroying Becky’s dress in a drug-induced Facebook photo session seeing how many of them can fit inside it and then running around New York City trying to get it fixed before the morning. Not many of the plot points really seem to make sense from there on out, especially an obvious, overly long detour at a strip club to meet Gena’s ex-boyfriend (Adam Scott), who of course is a groomsmen.
Heyland puts her story at the whims of three very troubled, dysfunctional women. They are on drugs, so of course most of what they’re doing doesn’t make sense. Buried beneath the movie’s bitingly funny zings are their high school woes, which include abortion and bulimia. These issues cause some tonal inconsistencies, but for the most part Heyland doesn’t dwell on them.
Gena is by far the most troubled. She has a serious drug habit, and her high school days are now the least of her problems. Caplan is a stand-out in this role in a movie that is already exceptionally well-acted. Her jittery, darting performance meshes very well with Dunt’s authoritative rampaging and Fisher’s rampant partier.
The men play a much larger role in Bachelorette than they did in Bridesmaids, mostly because the women are much more sexualized. After that aforementioned strip club scene, the trio of misfits splits up with a corresponding member of the bachelor party (Scott, James Marsden and Kyle Bornheimer). The brisk, well-timed cuts between these conversations and many of the other ones complement the biting delivery well.
Heyland has created women who don’t want redemption and whose only third act salvation comes in the form of only kind of ruining the wedding instead of completely doing it. The farcical comedy works well most of the time, especially with three villainess, conniving and unsympathetic stooges at the center. Sure it is a little candy coated (the movie should’ve ended with the three women’s wicked stare at the alter) and contradictory in the final scene, but from what we’ve just witnessed them do the night before, it isn’t going to last past the reception.