Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Review: "Bachelorette"

Director: Leslye Headland
Runtime: 87 minutes

It would be easy to dismiss Leslye Headland's Bachelorette on the grounds that it is nothing more than a cheap cash-in on the R-rated lady comedy trend bolstered by last year's Bridesmaids. However, that's not quite the case. Headland's film is based on her own play. Even if Bridesmaids paved the way for something like Bachelorette, this particular film shouldn't be passed over just because of its timing. Why? Because there are so many legitimate reasons to ignore Headland's dumb, ugly, and unpleasant film.

Regan (Kirsten Dunst), Gena (Lizzy Caplan), and Katie (Isla Fisher), three best friends from high school, suddenly find themselves in the bridal party of Becky (Bridesmaids' Rebel Wilson), whom they used to make fun of. To the dismay of the trio (mostly Katie), Becky says that her bachelorette party will be a tame affair, consisting of little more than hanging out in a nice hotel room and eating ice cream. Desperate to spice things up, Regan, Gena, and Katie soon find themselves in over their heads when matrimonial disaster strikes in a moment of mean-spirited fun.

And by matrimonial disaster, I'm talking about the moment when Regan and Katie, squeezing both of their bodies into Becky's plus size wedding dress, tear it almost completely in half. As part of a larger tapestry of screw ups, this incident could lend itself to a wild ride of bridal party hijinks. But that's it. No, really. The driving force of the plot is the torn dress, and nothing more. The only other wild and crazy incident in the whole mess is that Gena and Katie both did cocaine earlier in the night. Can you handle the manufactured wackiness? Suffice it to say that there are more laughs in any one of Bridesmaids' comedic set pieces than in the entirety of this film.

Not helping matters is that Headland doesn't seem interested in making her characters interesting or multidimensional. This only becomes a bigger problem because they're not remotely likable. Regan is a type-A bitch, Gena is a sarcastic slacker, and Katie is just an over-the-top party girl. The roles do little to capitalize on the gifts of the talented women playing them, especially when it comes to Fisher's Katie, who's rendered little more than a shrill and cartoonish nuisance. Headland seems to be striving for (once again, mind the comparison's chronological faults) a mix of The Hangover and Bridesmaids by way of a Noah Baumbach film, and it flat out doesn't work. I'm usually not keen on much Mr. Baumbach's work, but at least he's capable of crafting insightful character portraits and drawing strong turns from his leads. If Headland possesses that talent, she's done nothing here to indicate that this is the case.

And so Bachelorette chugs along, throwing in three blank 'love' interests (Adam Scott, James Marsden, and Kyle Bornheimer) for our protagonists, and an over dose subplot that only drags the film further down the rabbit hole into tedium. Much could be forgiven if the writing had any punch to it, but it just feels blunt, dumb, and mean. The occasional line or gag registers, but the successes are still weighed down by the failures of the whole enterprise. Worse is that Headland tries to wrap things up in typical raunchy rom-com fashion, with a happy ending where everyone gets together with "the right one." It's that unfortunate sort of bad movie where not even the strengths of the cast members make it worth checking out.

Grade: D

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