Directed by: Leslye Headland
Premise: A trio of women (Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher and Lizzy Caplan) gather for their friend’s wedding. The night before the ceremony the group hits the town for an evening of debauchery and misadventures ensue.
What Works: Bachelorette has a lot of flaws but in strictly filmmaking terms it is sometimes impressive. The picture includes a lot of interesting camera setups and director Leslye Headland coordinates the action pretty well, balancing simultaneous set pieces and editing between them skillfully. The actors are also good in that they are convincing, especially the core cast. Kirsten Dunst is notable here since she typically plays good-girl types. Dunst’s role in Bachelorette is certainly not a good-girl, or even a likably naughty one, and the actress throws herself into the role. Lizzy Caplan is also impressive as the script gives her the most to work with and among the women her character is the only one that is remotely compelling. There is also a small supporting role by Kyle Bornheimer as a soft spoken groomsman who lusts after Isla Fisher’s character; his sensitivity contrasts with the crassness of the rest of the movie.
What Doesn’t: Bachelorette is a prime illustration that a movie is only as good as its script and the script for Bachelorette is terrible. What the story amounts to is eighty-seven minutes of despicable people getting themselves into trouble because of their own stupidity and self-absorption and then lashing out at everyone else for their misfortune. Nearly everyone in the film is an awful human being, but especially the three leads who manage to be even more vacuous, idiotic, and narcissistic than the women of Sex and the City. It is challenging but possible to do a film in which the central character is unlikable; this was accomplished in American Psycho and Taxi Driver by substituting likability with fascination. The filmmakers of Bachelorette don’t succeed because, with the exception of Lizzy Caplan’s character, there is nothing to these women and they are too despicable to be watchable. In fact, they are so unrelentingly awful that is impossible to believe that they are real. The conceit of the movie is that these superficial yuppies have remained friends with each other and with the bride, played by Rebel Wilson (who is sorely underused here), despite the fact that they clearly do not like or even respect each other. It isn’t a very credible premise but if the film was headed toward an epiphany either on the part of the characters or the audience it might pay off. But the characters of Bachelorette end the film unchanged and unlearned. The shortcomings of Bachelorette’s plotting and character work might be overcome if it were funny but this film is a failure as a comedy and it ought to renew the viewer’s appreciation for Bridesmaids or even the original Hangover. Although those films were not perfect, they did set up and execute a variety of gags and featured a cast of memorable characters. The premise and promotional materials for Bachelorette make it look like a descendent of Bridesmaids or The Hangover but Bachelorette is much closer to movies like The Rules of Attraction and Very Bad Things in its tone, its meanness, and its coarseness. This is another movie trying to prove its credibility through shock tactics and sheer rudeness but there is no showmanship to the movie and its attempts at audacity come across strictly amateur.
Bottom Line: Bachelorette is a very ill-conceived movie whose characters and lack of humor make it nearly unwatchable. Even a dumb comedy needs to be smartly produced but this film is as shallow and idiotic as its characters.
Episode: #415 (November 18, 2012)