Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Writer-director Leslye Headland’s Bachelorette is so darkly and crudely funny it makes Bridesmaids look like a family film. And while the sharp edges may puncture holes through its characters’ believability, ultimately the film is saved by an inspired madcap energy that suffuses the climactic scenes and brushes aside all the minor quibbles and nitpicks through sheer force of laughter.
When Becky (Rebel Wilson) tells her best friend Regan (Kirsten Dunst) that she’s engaged, the news is greeted with simulated enthusiasm and barely-disguised disgust. Regan and Becky’s two other best friends, Gena (Lizzy Caplan), and Katie (Isla Fisher) react to the news so poorly they seem almost like misogynistic characters, the back-biting fake friends of every woman-hater’s fears. Their ambivalence toward Becky’s happiness is made more disturbing because of how rooted it is in their own shallowness. The three friends, all skinny and conventionally attractive, can’t stand that the plus-sized Becky is marrying a stable, normal guy while their romantic and personal lives lie in tatters. They’re not exactly sympathetic figures, which is of course largely the point.
After some inexcusable, and frankly too mean to be funny, actions at the rehearsal dinner, Katie, Regan, and Gena decide to drown their troubles in booze and drugs. When that combination proves harmful to the bride’s dress, resulting in a large tear down the middle, the trio go into overdrive trying to solve their problems.
Along the way, they are helped/hindered by a similar trio of groomsmen including best man Trevor (James Marsden), the groom’s brother Joe (Kyle Bornheimer), and Gena’s ex Clyde (Adam Scott). If you’re dreading the conventional pairing up of trios, well, you’re not entirely wrong, but the film still manages to surprise you.
Bachelorette is remarkable for how well it wrings laughs out of its characters’ personal failings and fundamental flaws. It also pushes the boundaries of comedy without exactly relying on gross-out humor (when one character vomits, it’s actually one of the more serious moments of the film.)
Dunst, Caplan, and Fisher all give spot-on performances as unhappy, troubled women. Their various freak-outs and implosions are fascinating to watch. By the end, though they’ve only taken small steps toward redemption, their humanity has become so apparent that you can’t help but be happy they all made it to the church on time.