Bad girls – Bachelorette review

Bachelorette – Starring Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan, and Isla Fisher. Directed by Leslye Headland. Rated MA. By Simon Miraudo.

Leslye Headland‘s bitterly unfunny Bachelorette not only squanders a talented cast of comic performers, but also chastises the audience for revelling in the unfiltered awfulness of their characters. And frankly, the only joy anyone could derive from this movie is the judgemental, “Thank God I don’t know anyone like them in real life,” kind. It tells of three emotionally stunted women who ruin their supposed best friend’s wedding in a flurry of cocaine, alcohol, and spite. Don’t blame them, though; they’ve all experienced some personal tragedy, which is conveniently revealed in as glib and convenient a manner imaginable, and is meant to excuse them of profound black-heartedness. Bulimia, abortion, attempted suicide: these are the emotional trump cards played in their game of “I Deserve to Be Pitied Most.” Ladies, please, you’re all winners.

Regan (Kirsten Dunst), Gena (Lizzy Caplan), and Katie (Isla Fisher) are the bridesmaids, and Becky (Rebel Wilson) is the bride. Considering they used to call Becky ‘Pigface’ back in high school, the trio is having a hard time coping with the fact she’s the first of their group to be married. Control freak Regan channels her rage into the planning of the ceremony itself, while acid-tongued layabout Gena and dim-witted retail shop assistant Katie drown themselves in a mountain of coke. All of them take a cue from Liz Phair when it comes to dulling the pain with a variety of male suitors. After a disastrous rehearsal dinner and an awkward encounter with a stripper (Andrew Rannells) – all the result of her pals’ cruel, selfish ways – Becky declares the eve of her wedding a lost cause and heads to bed. In a drunken, malicious stupor, the girls jokingly squeeze into her wedding dress and tear it apart. With hours to go before the nuptials, they attempt to stitch it back together and salvage Becky’s big day, because apparently now they care about her?

There are some gifted guys in the cast, but they also fall victim to feigned pathos in the final act. Adam Scott reteams with his Party Down castmate Caplan, playing her former flame Clyde, and he similarly starts off cruel before turning sweet on a dime. Kyle Bornheimer‘s Joe is perhaps the only sympathetic person in the entire picture, primarily because he doesn’t want to take advantage of an inebriated Katie (the standards of decency are pretty low here). Only James Marsden, as an unrepentant hound with an eye for Regan, is allowed to maintain a debaucherous attitude from beginning to end.

Dunst, Caplan, and Fisher are all game, and don’t hold back in regards to what is asked of them by writer-director Headland (adapting her own play from the screen). Frankly, they’re at their best when attempting to one-up each other in the detestability stakes. It’s when Headland shoe-horns emotional plot points that the whole thing reeks of superficiality. Either take these people beyond the realm of acceptable human behaviour and never look back, or remember to ground them in reality from the get go instead of deploying overwhelmingly dramatic excuses at the last minute to inspire guilt in the audience for thinking them awful this whole time. I hate to bring up that other ‘B’ film, because the comparison is so lazy. Still, ignoring the basic similarities, Bridesmaids is far better at depicting mid-30s malaise and the disintegration of female relationships than this flick. It’s hard to find a movie funny when it’s working so hard to tell you off.

2/5

Check out Simon Miraudo’s other reviews here.

Bachelorette arrives in Australian cinemas November 1, 2012.

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