Anything men can do chicks can do…cruder? Nastier? Uglier? In the case of Leslye Headland’s directorial debut Bachelorette, I can tell you that whatever it is, it’s certainly not “better.” This excuse for a comedy is bleak, mean-spirited and populated with the most inhuman bunch of individuals I’ve ever had the displeasure of spending 90 minutes with.
Bachelorette is so thoroughly off-putting it made me never want to see lead Kirsten Dunst in a movie ever again, made me never want to date again and made me generally never want to be in the company of women again and made me never want to watch a movie again.
It speaks volumes that the quartet of men in Bachelorette (played by James Marsden, Adam Scott, Kyle Bornheimer and Hayes MacArthur) who would normally be the complete assholes of their film due to their alcohol-swilling, woman-objectifying actions, actually seem like a gang of Ghandi clones in comparison to the “ladies” at play here.
Assembled in addition to Dunst are Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan and Rebel Wilson, who is rising in notoriety thanks to roles in Bridesmaids and What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Dunst is the self-absorbed bulimic super-bitch, Fisher is a clueless ditz, Caplan is the slutty cocaine-snorter and Wilson is the overweight bride-to-be who is the brunt of any number of cruel fat jokes (she was less-than-affectionately called “pig face” in high school). These broad character types all but reveal what kind of film Bachelorette is trying to be and therein lies the rub.
These women are just that: a type. They aren’t real people, just broadly brushed clichés assembled on a canvas of unnecessary profanity and hateful exchanges. It’s when they each have their catharsis (a forced epiphany you can see coming from the opening scene) and become “humans” that you realize these were never real people, never fully realized and to add insult to injury it betrays the dark twisted nature of the first half.
If Headland was truly going for something different here (a play on the noir detective story where instead of everyone being either a criminal or cop everyone is just the devil), she should have stuck to her guns. It’s a huge misfire to think we can simply shift gears into romantic comedy territory.
Of the entire cast there are two standouts. Of the estrogen-laced side Lizzy Caplan is by far the best – more deranged and lonely than a bitch (high praise right?). She really does give the best performance and her arc is easily the most compelling. When she goes spaz it comes off as funny in a sarcastic and ironic way (even if after she hits the drugs it sometimes seems like Lizzy Caplan doing Captain Jack Sparrow), whereas everyone else comes off as hate-filled.
Of the men it’s Kyle Bornheimer (a.k.a. the film’s Seth Rogen stand-in) who is charming, often funny and more often than not a good human being. Wow! What a novel idea. And that’s really what Bachelorette came down to. The elements of the film I liked really came down to actors I like or to witnessing some promising new talent on screen. This material does none of them justice and if I admired even a part of them in this film it must mean they have a future in Hollywood.
Some amusing moments do surface when things lighten up and it would be a bold-faced lie to say I didn’t chuckle a handful of times and find genuine moments of mirth at one or two points.
The driving plot device of Bachelorette is the selfish ripping of the wedding dress (a scene I saw in the trailers but never imagined to be practically the entire movie) and the struggle to get it repaired. The panic to get the dress to the wedding on time is reminiscent of The Hangover and the mad dash to get the groom-to-be home from Vegas (think humor akin to the road-side tuxedo change). Though, a number of the parallels between this film and that mega-hit could be construed as straight-up rip-off.
What attracted all these talented actors to Bachelorette perplexes me. I suppose I could understand the appeal of having the chance to act as crude and sordid as your typical gang of men in a film of this ilk but surely this particular script didn’t look attractive. Director Leslye Headland also wrote the screenplay, and it’s a tad disconcerting that she also penned the fantastic and prematurely cancelled TV show Terriers. What happened between that small screen endeavour and this abomination is a mystery best kept hidden.
I’m sure there are people out there who could find something to like in Bachelorette because humor, as they say, is subjective. For the average movie-goer however, I caution seeking this seemingly chipper comedy of errors out, for you risk leaving the theater feeling incredibly unclean. C-word you, F-that and everything in between, Bachelorette is an incredible wrongheaded cinematic misfire that takes repugnance to a whole new level of vividness.