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Not Even an Adam Scott and Lizzy Caplan Reunion Can Salvage the Disjointed Bridesmaids Wannabe, Bachelorette

By Dustin Rowles | Film Reviews | September 7, 2012 | Comments ()


Bachelorette-movie-image-Isla-Fisher-Kirsten-Dunst-Lizzy-Caplan-1.jpeg

Bachelorette, which stars Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan, Isla Fisher, Adam Scott, and James Marsden, is something of a mash-up of The Hangover and Bridesmaids, but it's missing one very important element crucial to those films' successes: It's not very funny. It's hard to tell, really, how much it wants to be, but in trying to distinguish her movie from those inevitable comparisons, writer/director Leslye Headland (a staff writer on the brilliant Terriers) infuses Bachelorette with a kind of misanthropy that creates an ugly tonal disconnect with the overall comedic vibe of the film.

Take, for instance, a scene in the third act, in which Isla Fisher's character, Katie -- who has expressed some suicidal ideation -- overdoses on a bottle of Xanax after she's rejected by the schlubby Joe (Kyle Bornheimer) and doesn't wake up the next morning. Kristen Dunst's character, Regan -- a lifelong bulimic -- sticks two fingers down Katie's throat to make her vomit and save her life. It works, but Regan's bridesmaid dress ends up covered in Katie's vomit. Is this supposed to be gross-out funny, or are we supposed to feel a sense of relief that Katie didn't die? It's hard to say, and the reason why I didn't provide a spoiler alert to what might seem like a key scene in the movie is because it's treated with the same casual indifference to character and narrative as every other scene in the film. Heavy themes and "zany" comedy co-exist, and the marriage of the two works about as well as trying to stick two negative sides of a magnet together.

The film follows three bridesmaids (Regan, Katie, and Lizzy Caplan's Gena) as they attempt to throw a bachelorette party for the best friend, Becky (Rebel Wilson), who they secretly resent for being the first to marry despite the fact that she's fat (that's the Bridesmaids side of the equation). The Hangover side centers on three groomsen (James Marsden's Trevor, Adam Scott's Clyde, and Bornheimer's Joe) throwing a Bachelor party for Becky's fiance, Dale (Hayes MacArthur). The two parties and merge at a strip club after Regan and Katie -- on a coke bender -- accidentally rip the bride's wedding dress and drip cocaine nose-bleed blood on it. There, Trevor aims to hook up with Regan and Joe tries to get Katie -- a high school crush who didn't know he existed -- to notice him. Meanwhile, everyone is trying to come up with a solution to the ripped and stained wedding gown. At the same time, Lizzy Caplan's Gena and Adam Scott's Clyde have some unresolved feelings dating back to their intense high-school relationship. They were madly in love with each other, but Clyde's inability to show up for Gena's abortion sent her into a decade-long spiral with rando dudes and mountains of blow.

You see what I mean by tonal disconnect? It's hard to know whether to laugh at the contrived situations or feel sympathy for the characters' disastrous lives. It doesn't help, either, that Headland doesn't create enough comedy to elicit laughter or develop the characters enough to get us invested in them. Credit to Caplan, however, for elevating her character above the script and managing to somewhat successfully bring out the dark humor in her situation, although even she often makes us feel more sorry for her character than amused. Indeed, the only real delight in Bachelorette is in imagining the Caplan and Scott arc as a kind of pseudo-sequel to their relationship in "Party Down."

Sadly, as much fun as it is just to see Caplan and Scott together, or see Marsden's manic douchebag in action (man, why won't someone give this guy a great comedy?), it's not nearly enough to overcome the rest of the movie. There are no real peaks and valleys in Headland's screenplay: The entire film coasts listlessly toward a climax that seems to want very badly to subvert the big romantic gesture speech but in doing so crashes into a confusingly crass what-the-fuck anti-climax. It's subversive all right, but only in the way it takes a rom-com cliche and drowns it like a kitten, which -- hooray! for avoiding the obvious -- but, dude, it's still a dead kitten.

Bachelorette is on VOD and iTunes now, and will be opening in theaters on September 7th.




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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • bert

    Watch Full Movie at: bit.ly/Q7omAW

  • The Pink Hulk

    I knew as soon as I watched this movie that people would not be able to parse it out from the obvious comparisons to "Bridesmaids" and "The Hangover," the latter of which I thought was maybe one of the worst movies ever made.

    The movie isn't the best I've ever seen, but it definitely isn't as bad as the review makes it out to be. Go into it like this: you're about to see a movie that focuses not on the hero (Rebel Wilson), but on the three anti-heroes. Not every coke party ends up with a baby and a tiger and a performance by Wilson Phillips. Sometimes it ends up with a bloody nose and shitty bathroom sex. Actually, more often than not, it does.

    I felt the film was almost embarrassingly reminiscent of a few days I'd rather forget, but overall, it was pretty darned enjoyable. I hated almost every character, but the writers gave me REASONS to hate them. Kirsten Dunst? Well, she was actually my favorite this time. If you've made it to your mid-30s and remained unmarried and have watched friend after friend marry, you'll get her. You really will.

  • pockets full of stones

    Watched and loved the hell out of this film, found this review more judgmental than insightful and felt compelled to say the film I watched is not the film Dustin watched. The film I watched was remarkable and had something to say and has nothing to do with Bridesmaids or Hangover and please see it. Don't watch Dustin's film, though. Apparently it's crappy. There's, like, drugs and stuff.

  • Nimue

    I am really interested in seeing this, the reviews are split right down the middle. I have read a few negative and a few positive, so I am really curious to check it out. I also read some of the interviews with the stars and director, so I really want to see how I feel about it.

  • This article is trash because this movie was so much better than bridesmaids even though I love Kristen Wiig

  • SidCollins

    You totally missed the point of this movie. It's not about Hangover and Bridesmaids comparisons. The wedding is besides the point, it's about women dealing with society's expectations of them to be successful, fashionable party-girls who pine over ex-boyfriends and are also pretty and ditzy and up for one night stands. When confronted with a friend who is none of these things, but is getting everything they want (marriage, handsome husband, money, acceptance, support) how do they deal with the dissonance of all the work they've put in to filling their roles? Hate to play the sex card, but maybe having a female who has had female relationships and pressures would've picked up on the nuances of the messages more easily. Maybe it's not the film that missed the mark but your reviewer.

  • intheyear2000

    I agree. While I don't think the film was 100% successful, in my opinion the reviewer (and a few others) are completely missing the point. It's really not trying to achieve what Bridesmaids/Hangover were aiming for.

    There are some aspects about female relationships/issues that I've tried to explain to male friends over the years (really open-minded, intelligent guys) and they just can't quite get it. And there are certain traits women pick up on right away in other women through subtleties that men just don't see until some sort of major incident goes down. (I'm sure there are aspects of masculinity/male relationships that I'll never quite understand.)
    Weirdly enough people's reactions to this film actually reminded me of this one review I read of Shame. The reviewer couldn't believe that the Carey Mulligan character would sleep with Brandon's boss when/how she did. But for me, I've known that girl and I KNOW that she would. It felt very realistic because I've had a couple of friends very similar to her. The reviewer obviously just hadn't had a friend/acquaintance like that.

    Anyway, I actually agree with a couple of the points the reviewer made about the film (like the uneven tone) and I don't want to dismissive and say 'he just didn't get it'. But however successful it may or may not have been, I think he couldn't quite see it for what it was/what it was trying to be.

  • DeistBrawler

    This might have worked if any of the characters had a single redeemable quality, or if 30-somethings weren't still stuck in high school.

  • Movie133

    I thought that it wasn't too bridesmaids-esq. while yes there was some partying, I found it more to show the effects of high school shit and the struggles women have. Of course it's not the best movie ever, but if you go in not expecting another bridesmaids, it's pretty fucking good.

  • dahlia6

    Am I the only person who finds endless amusement in trying to mash two negative side magnets together? That shit is hella fun.

  • Janey

    My love for party down will mean I will endure what sounds like a crap movie for the sake of seeing more lizzy caplan and Adam Scott

  • I love that show and they make such a great team together

  • siham

    Am I the only one mystified by people's love Caplan's character in Party Down? She was hysterical, needy, deluded about her comedy career, and dick to Henry about their relationship. I just don't get the love for Lizzy Caplan in general. She's a pretty but an painfully average actress.

  • Phooey. Someone give Adam Scott a decent movie.

  • TheReinaG

    The Vicious Kind.

  • tmoney

    Marsden is AMAZING in Sex Drive. Give the man more opportunities to freak out.

  • TK

    That movie, man... I am not comfortable with how much I enjoyed it. But you're totally right. Marsden is terrific in it.

  • dizzylucy

    I saw the VOD commercials for this and thought the cast looked good, but I think your review just saved me some $. It sounds like awful people being awful. No thanks.

  • Wow, this sounds just terrible. And I'm a guy who really liked Bridesmaids. My wife and I have seen it like four times. Looks like we'll be missing this one.

  • hapl0

    And of course, everyone is going to blame this on Kirsten Dunst.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    And why not? The woman is a terrible actress.

  • hapl0
  • Fabius_Maximus

    Deadly serious.

  • hapl0

    :D

  • Between this and Friends with Kids, Adam Scott is really testing my love. Oh well. We'll always have Pawnee.

  • Bert_McGurt

    "Meanwhile, everyone is trying to come up with a solution to the ripped and stained wedding gown."

    NOT wearing one's wedding dress to the boozy, coke-soaked bachelorette party seems to work rather well for all the brides I've ever known.

  • BWeaves

    My mother was a bridesmaid in the 1950's to a lady who wore her wedding dress the night before at the bachelorette party, and while twirling around, ripped it. The bride was in tears, but my mom was a fantastic seamstress (designer level), and she took several tucks in the bottom of the dress and hid the rip in one of the tucks. The dress was now ballerina length, but it was a "new look" type dress and the fix looked like it was intended.

    Peroxide works well for removing fresh blood stains from fabric. Don't ask me how I know.

  • Bert_McGurt

    Heh heh. The bride was definitely in "tear-s".
    I've had much luck with plain ol' cold water. We couldn't play rugby with blood on any part of the uniform, so you learned quickly how to wash it out.

  • pajiba

    Oh, sorry. I might have should've explained that better. The bride wasn't in the room when it got ripped. Kirsten Dunst and Isla Fisher's characters -- drunk and coked out -- decided to find out how many people could fit in the dress. Exactly what you think would happen, happened.

  • competitivenonfiction

    Even with the terrible review, this is what makes me not want to see the movie. There is a special hell for the people who do asshole things like try to fit two people into a dress designed and made for a friend who is close enough that she'd ask them to be in her wedding party. I hope the movie ends with the bride realizing she needs new friends, and then lighting the bridesmaids on fire, you know, as a harmless gag.

  • barlowjk

    I would imagine that a no-asshole rule would limit your movie choices significantly.

  • competitivenonfiction

    I'll be the first to admit that it really can. I don't have the stomach to watch something that revolves around complete assholes and it means that I miss out on some shows (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia comes to mind) and movies. It also means that reality TV doesn't tempt me, so I'm cool with being a bit limited.

  • barlowjk

    Fair enough. Me, I enjoy the catharsis wrought by hating asshole characters. But I can't do reality TV either -- I guess I have to know they're not real?

  • branded_redux

    Exactly what you think would happen, happened.

    Dustin's thoughts during that scene:
    "It's happening, it's happening... [Dustin sinks down in chair] it happened..."

  • Bert_McGurt

    Well thanks for the clarification. Though it doesn't sound like you need my help pointing out the flaws with this one.

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