One way that a comedy can usually be sure to lose me is to have the characters and even the film in general just be mean-spirited. That’s an issue I’ve had with a some black comedies, but somehow ‘Bachelorette’ manages to avoid my wrath. The reason? I actually bought into these characters organically being the way that they are, not because writer/director Leslye Headland simply decided. In adapting her own play, Headland has assembled a talented cast (including Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan, Rebel Wilson, Adam Scott, and James Marsden) and allowed them to go all out in being unlikable while still keeping a firm grip on things. It’s a dangerous tightrope to walk, and ‘Bachelorette’ isn’t a great film, but it manages not to trip and it turns out to be a good comedy with a number of laughs. I can see a number of people hating the flick, but I also know of a few who liked it more than I did, so reactions are going to be all over the place. Those who recognize these characters will probably have a visceral reaction to their appearance onscreen.
Back in High School, Reagan (Dunst), Gena (Caplan), Katie (Fisher), and Becky (Wilson) were known as the B-faces (no points for guessing what the “B” stands for). Reagan was, and still is, the type-A leader of the group. Gena was the ironic and bitter girl of the foursome, while Katie was the space case and Becky was the big hearted fat girl that they used to make themselves feel better as much as were friends with. It comes as a shock to all that Becky is going to be the first to wed, and it hits Reagan especially hard. Still, they all get together for Becky’s big day, initially planning on a big bachelorette party, but the bride is thinking something smaller. Reagan initially butts heads with the best man Trevor (Marsden), Katie kinda sorta flirts with nice guy/stoner Joe (Kyle Bornheimer), while Gena spends her time annoying and being annoyed by her ex and first love Clyde (Scott). Still, fun must be had, and Becky is being a killjoy. Gena and Katie solve that by doing a whole bunch of cocaine, which leads to Reagan joining them and then the trio accidentally ripping Becky’s wedding dress. Thus begins a race to fix the dress, though they keep running into the Clyde, Joe, and Trevor, who have Becky’s husband to be Dale (Hayes MacArthur) out for one last night of craziness. Lots of sex, drugs, and cursing are soon to come (along with a wedding, of course), and to its credit the movie doesn’t end how you think it will. The film isn’t amazingly original, but it gets points for its ending.
Whatever you may think of the characters that they play, it’s hard to deny that just about everyone in the cast is good in their roles. Kirsten Dunst absolutely nails her role, playing perhaps the least likable person in the movie. She’s not a great person, but in her quest to fix the dress you do wind up learning some interesting things about her, and Dunst sells it well. Lizzy Caplan shows some of the broken heart that lies under the scar tissue of her character, and Isla Fisher plays an airhead with aplomb, even if she’s drunk or high a bit more than she needs to be. Rebel Wilson is somewhat wasted, but here and there her talent shines through. As for the gentlemen, James Marsden is effectively smarmy, and the same goes for Adam Scott, though his character is far more decent of a person. Kyle Bornheimer is perhaps the nicest person in the movie, but he doesn’t get much to do, and the same goes for Hayes MacArthur. The supporting cast includes Anne Dowd as Becky’s worrisome mom, plus there’s a cameo from Horatio Sanz. Dunst is the one who’s most successful, though most of the players do their part.
The film is well-directed by Leslye Headland, showing an impressive expansion from stage to screen. It looks good, the pace is brisk, and there’s a confidence here that not all filmmakers have. The script is a bit talky, but certain monologues are very well done, such as Caplan’s on a plane about different types of oral sex. Some scenes don’t have too much of a point, and Headland resorts to well-worn plot devices in the third act, but for the most part I liked what she was doing here. She made a firm decision to make a movie about characters we’ll likely hate, and the results worked, for me at least…
Overall, when ‘Bachelorette’ opens this week, I think reactions will be split pretty much down the middle, but count me on the positive side. The flick isn’t perfect by any means, but more goes right than goes wrong and a lot of talent is on display. If you like a lot of bite to your black comedy, this could be the indie comedy for you. I’m interested in seeing the reactions, as I expect them to be all over the place. Give it a shot and see what you think!
-Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!
Tags: Bachelorette, Entertainment/Culture, Isla Fisher, James Marsden, Kirsten Dunst, Leslye Headland, Lizzy Caplan, Rebel Wilson