Film Review: Bachelorette (2012)

“I went to college. I exercise. I eat like a normal person. I’ve got a boyfriend in med school. And nothing is happening for me.”-Regan

I really enjoyed watching Bachelorette (the movie, not the show). Critics can’t help but make the inevitable comparisons with last year’s major female comedy success, Bridesmaids (2011), but then there’s also the standard press release rebuttal: Bachelorette was pitched and in production before Kristin Wiig and Maya Rudolph had that amazing discussion and demonstration about how the male anatomy can look “too aggressive”.

Rather than being helmed by two amazingly talented SNL cast members, we have actresses who aren’t as well known (with the exception of Kristen Dunst). Lizzy Caplan’s breakout role came in Mean Girls while Isla Fischer typically gets typecast as the redheaded bimbo. She got a chance to play lead in the Shopaholic adapation, but it’s not exactly an A-List cast, especially when you throw in a relatively unknown Australian actress who also appeared in The Movie That Came Before.

But besides Rebel Wilson, there’s not that many similarities between the two comedies. There are upcoming wedding nuptials to fret about, but unlike Bridesmaids, Bachelorette jumps right into the night preceding the ceremony, allowing the bulk of the film to take place during one drunken why-aren’t-I-getting-married-and-I-hate-my-life night.

Kristen Dunst does a great job of playing Regan aka the head bitch (dare I say, even better than Leighton Meester’s Blair Waldorf?) who’s been  friends with Becky (Rebel Wilson) since high school but only so she can feel better about herself. Feeling superior, prettier, thinner, is what drives her, but that uneven power dynamic begins to change when Becky announces that she’s getting married and asks Regan to handle all of the wedding arrangements. Their high school friends Gena (Lizzy Caplan) and Katie (Isla Fisher), the rest of the group which makes up the Bitchfaces, are also invited, but unlike Regan, Gena doesn’t want to go because she doesn’t want to see her ex-boyfriend Clyde (Adam Scott) who is kind of a jerk and still the love of her life, and Katie just really hates feeling like the one forever-stuck working in retail and doesn’t know how to control her exaggerated facial expressions when she thinks a customer looks fat in a dress.

A heavy dose of realism (the film touches on darker issues like eating disorders and abortion) is what separates it from Bridesmaids (although that movie also has some great emotional scenes as well). In a press junket Dunst likened Bachelorette to Swingers, which is such a great comparison. And I don’t know about anyone else but isn’t it weird that even  though these two movies have nothing to do with Judd Apatow it still has that unexplainable Judd Apatow VIBE to it? Moody comedies which have raunchy humour but can also get very philosophical and existential and life-like because, you know, it’s very possible that a waitress in Vegas can totally get a Voltaire reference.

There have been complaints that the movie just isn’t “that funny” and the characters are “unlikable,” but I like how in most modern comedies the characters don’t have to be perfect. These characters have flaws, and most of them make nasty comments and almost all of them are cocaine users, but it also perfectly captures that feeling of desperation you get when those around you are embarking on the next stage of adulthood while you’re just feeling kind of stuck, and weather beaten, and disillusioned that you aren’t in the place you thought you would be despite doing All The Right Things.

But okay, maybe I’m a wee bit biased, because I love movies that take place over a short time frame (a la Phonebooth, 12 Angry Men, La Notte) or because the four cast members actually became really good friends and I’m a sucker for celebrity friendships, or because I have a massive girl-crush on Rebel Wilson who can deliver the best punch lines with the most deadpanned expressions and on Jimmy Kimmel charmingly revealed how she  wasn’t afraid to geek out about working with film vet Kristen Dunst because she was in Bring It On, one of the best movies of all time.

“Hey Kiki, do you remember when you said it was a democracy and not a cheerocracy?”

“…Yes, Rebs.”

I am so excited for Pitch Perfect.

[Cover photo via NY Times]


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