Always A Bridesmaid But Never Funny
Published: Friday, September 7, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 6, 2012 17:09
A summary of the plot, not to mention the title, of novice writer and director Leslye Headland’s Bachelorette may warrant the assumption that it’s merely a rip-off of Bridesmaids. Rest assured, Headland’s screenplay was adapted from her off-Broadway play “The Bachelorette” and was circulating the movie scene four years before Bridesmaids was released. This is not to say that either stole material or even a simple concept from the other; Bachelorette is infinitely more crass and practically every single character is unlikable for the majority of the film.
The plot follows the forthcoming wedding of Becky — played by Rebel Wilson, who seems to be making her way into every ensemble comedy of the year — although the movie focuses less on the bride and more on the other three members of her high school clique, who affectionately called themselves the B-Faces. Yet while Becky has grown up and seems comfortable with herself, the other girls are either fiercely competitive about being the first to succeed, insecure to the point of self-destruction or both. With her rapid-fire insults and blunt narcissism, maid of honor Regan (Kirsten Dunst) is any wedding planner’s worst nightmare. Meanwhile, snarky, bitter Gena (Lizzy Caplan) and ditsy, fun-loving Katie (Isla Fisher) have yet to kick their teenage recreational drug habits. Such a toxic combination leads to foreseeable complications, including a catastrophe with the wedding gown.
The visible talent of the male leads is limited to the script’s unaffectionate portrayal of their characters. Trevor (James Marsden) is the studly best man whose lack of a conscience almost equates him with Regan’s nastiness. Clyde (Adam Scott) is the sharp-witted guy who mysteriously broke Gena’s heart years ago, and Joe (Kyle Bornheimer) is the high school weed-dealer-turned-computer-programmer who follows Katie around like a puppy dog.
Fisher and Bornheimer constitute the best pairing by far, possibly due to the fact that each of their characters seems to have a soul despite playing a major role in all the vile, hapless episodes on the eve of Becky’s nuptials. The slightest amount of compassion in Bornheimer’s persona is enough to make a noticeable distinction between his character’s ability to empathize and the other groomsmen’s flippancy. Of the ladies, Fisher is the most competent, pulling off her surprisingly multidimensional character and somehow evoking laughter and sympathy simultaneously.
Headland’s strengths clearly lie in creating witty dialogue, since the chaotic scenes on the streets of a sometimes indiscernible New York City are significantly less impressive. The most memorable moments involve swift banter among the intoxicated characters.
In Bachelorette, unlike in most successful comedies, the viewer doesn’t care about any of the characters enough to be concerned about what will happen to them. In fact, in some scenes you’ll likely find yourself rooting against them. One scene pretty much sums up the bridesmaids from hell — when the three should be standing next to the bride at the wedding ceremony, they sit on the sidelines, Gena smoking a cigarette, Katie swinging around a bottle of champagne and Regan with vomit on her dress.
It’s a shame that such a promising cast was wasted on a disappointing production. It could have been a fun party if only the characters had been written as people with beating hearts and sensible values.