warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Movie Review: "Bachelorette"

Lindsay Dale |
September 8, 2012 | 1:18 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

 The three incredibly self-absorbed, cocaine-snorting bridesmaids that star in this chick flick have no place at anyone’s wedding – or on anyone’s movie screen, for that matter.

Is it really a surprise that no one wants to marry these overgrown mean girls? Photo courtesy of film.com.
Is it really a surprise that no one wants to marry these overgrown mean girls? Photo courtesy of film.com.

Bachelorette” focuses on four high school friends: Becky (Rebel Wilson), the lovable bride-to-be who is set to marry her handsome Prince Charming, Dale (Hayes McArthur); and Becky’s three less-than-lovable bridesmaids, all of whom are too enveloped in their own personal woes to focus on their supposed best friend’s special day.

Slightly terrifying maid of honor Regan (Kirsten Dunst) is furious that she’s not the first of the friends to get married, especially because she is like, soooo much hotter than Becky.  Promiscuous Gena (Lizzy Caplan) is solely concerned with the fact that her former high school sweetheart Clyde (Adam Scott) – who she hasn’t seen or dated since 1994, mind you – will be there.  And all ditzy Katie (Isla Fisher) wants to do is snort her cocaine, smoke her marijuana and figure out whether or not magic is actually real.

The film follows the girls as they ruin the bachelorette party that Becky wanted to be classy, rip Becky’s dress as they gossip about how fat she is, hook up with the groomsmen and engage in shenanigans that are supposed to be hilarious but also thought provoking.  Unfortunately, in the movie’s attempt to be both a comedy and a drama, it ultimately achieves neither.  

Its failure is extremely frustrating because “Bachelorette” has a mind-blowing amount of unreached potential.  Between its talented cast, intriguing premise and fearless broaching of subjects filmmakers often shy away from, “Bachelorette” really seems like a surefire winner.  Yet, in its insistence upon making these characters into superficial monsters in order to get viewers to laugh at them, the film alienates its viewers and misses its opportunity to get its almost certainly all-female audience to really think about the issues the characters are going through.

In the end, the one bridesmaid of the three who seems to be more than a caricature is Regan.  The underrated Dunst does the impossible by deepening a girl who could have seemed like a shallow spoiled brat into a former queen bee who is truly dissatisfied and confused with the way her carefully planned life is turning out.  Regan is also the only bridesmaid who seems to have a true friendship with Becky, and Dunst and Wilson do a great job demonstrating how Regan’s fierce and courageous – if slightly bitchy – attitude compliments Becky’s genuine goodness.

As for the other two, despite their best attempts, Caplan and Fisher just cannot make their superficial, one-dimensional characters seem like real, relatable people.  Gena’s entire life seems to be centered upon reuniting with Clyde, her high school boytoy who frankly does not seem like much of a catch.  While the two have admittedly been through a lot together, they are overly intent on resurrecting a relationship that died over a decade ago.  Furthermore, any notion that Gena does not need a man to make her happy, or that she deserves better than a commitment-phobe with a weakness for drunken strippers, is utterly lost on her – and on the film’s writers.  And Katie is just a mess.  To her credit, Fisher delivers her one-liners very well and gives the film the comic relief that falls flat in so many other places.  Due to the script’s unexplored character development, however, Katie seems to be exactly what she thinks she is: an unintelligent cokehead who makes her friends’ lives really hard.  Honestly, the viewer can’t help but wonder why Becky is friends with Gena and Katie.  Unlike Regan, who is no picnic herself, these girls just don’t seem to care about her happiness at all.  

It’s clear that writer/director Leslye Headland wanted to make a film about messes, and that’s fine.  But unlike that other recent film about wayward “Bridesmaids,” for two out of three protagonists, that redeeming sentimentality and character depth never come through.  I think we’re supposed to think the characters are content with their screwed-up existences, hence the attempted humor and forced “everything will be okay” message at the end.  Instead, the audience gets the feeling that after the wedding is over, Gena, Katie and Regan will continue living in the past, doing drugs and wondering why their lives have turned out so badly.  Meanwhile, Becky will continue spending time and energy with girls – minus Regan, maybe - that don’t deserve her friendship.

And that’s a lot for a supposedly upbeat chick flick, right?  When in search of a Friday night girl power movie, instead try Dunst’s “Bring it On,” Caplan’s “Mean Girls,” or Fisher’s “Wedding Crashers” – all films that show how both funny and deep these women can really be. 

Reach reporter Lindsay Dale here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.