Sunday, September 9, 2012


Likely the meanest, most caustic motion picture of the year, Bachelorette, unlike last years Bridesmaids is in the truest sense of the female version of The Hangover.  A racy, raucous comedy of manners where nearly all behavior is nasty and full of contempt.  Written and directed by Leslye Headland, based on her own play, the film follows three high school mean girls as they come together for the wedding of one of their own.  Coming along for the ride is their past and current resentments culminating in a series of girls behaving badly comic-tragic displays that, while thoroughly and exactingly performed leave an often bitter taste.  The film almost feels like a collection of vignettes that would give the Romney team extra ammunition for current political policies, if not for the spirited, nearly Olympian gamesmanship of the actressses that take part, finding funny and spiteful charisma in ugly behavior and personal destructiveness.

The action begins as Becky (Rebel Wilson), announces her impending engagement.  This causes craziness from her three high school mates, Regan (Kirsten Dunst), Katie (Isla Fisher) and Gena (Lizzy Caplan.)  Not just coupled with the anxiety of a friend beating them to the altar, but the added meanness that the slightly overweight girl, dubbed as "Pigface" in high school is set to marry an altogether attractive and decent guy, all three girls seemingly go into a tailspin in altogether different ways, whilst channeling past problems.  The biggest problem of Bachelorette from the outset is that it's hard to believe that anyone of these gals were friends to begin with-- they're mean girls from different settings.

Regan is a controlling, type-A control freak, a woman with an Ivy League education and glare that could chill a ghost.  She's cleverly nicknamed Hannibal by a male suitor who wants her, and her resolve makes her a perfect maid of honor, if intolerable in reality.  Katie is a party girl who never quite grew up, still impressed with the one-ups-man-ship of out-drinking and out-drugging the lot.  While Gena is the caustic depressant with the most clever one-liners (only matched by the amount of cocaine she can store) and severest of social norms-- this is tested by the presence of her old high school boyfriend Clyde (Adam Scott.)  That these three girls and Becky were friends in high school seems tonally impossible, yet the film coasts on the performances of the leading ladies who dispel bad behavior and naughtiness with absolute commitment and ugly charm, along with a clear headed inventiveness in staging by Headland, who keeps things quick and sprite.  Instead of dwelling from ugly moo point, she just jets to the next one.  Most of the plot settles on an ill-fated bachelorette party that results in an a sobbing bride and a coke-filled incident that mars her wedding dress.  The distressed and highly intoxicated girls work around the clock the fix it in an effort to not let their crazy ruin the festivities.

Throughout the brightest performer of the bunch is Dunst, who plays her high-wire act with a nervy, bitchy tension that is intoxicating in its control.  Especially in a nicely and tightly put together third act sequence that's essentially a classic French slamming doors farce take off, Dunst owns the film with a spicy power.  Caplan delivers her nasty lines with vigor, while Fisher plays destructive lush gamely, but there's an underlying tinge of nastiness that overpowers Bachelorette as a female-centered film that seemingly hates women.  Is it okay that this film was made by a woman, does that make the misogyny more acceptable, or does it raise a bigger issue.  I enjoyed the film and laughed several times, but the aftertaste is slightly bitter.  B-

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