Before I jump into my first Sundance review of the new year, I want to admit that, yes, I have been avoiding blogging about my writing. I have been writing, however, but I haven’t been writing about writing. A few bumps in the new year have held me back, but I hope to change that soon.
Let’s Talk About Bachelorette
Leslye Headland wrote and directed Bachelorette, a film adaptation of a play that she also penned. The play of the same name is one part of a series based on the seven deadly sins, with Bachelorette assigned Gluttony. The film unapologetically dives into its characters’ vices: meanness, drug abuse, casual sex, and self-loathing, to name a few. Bachelorette, however, manages to entertain and indulge its audience while presenting characters in crisis. This dark comedy is razor sharp both in wit and pain; although, Headland’s desensitized characters may not feel the full sting of their words or actions, by the end, the audience sure does.
The film opens with Regan (Shakespearean reference supposedly intended) played by Kirsten Dunst, eating lunch with Becky (Rebel Wilson, Bridesmaids). Regan carries herself as though she is royalty, and Becky, by comparison, is no more than an overweight commoner who should be thankful that she has a friend like Regan. So, when Becky announces that her handsome and successful boyfriend proposed, Regan can hardly hold back her surprise and bitter rage.
Bachelorette, as the title suggests, mostly takes place the night of Becky’s bachelorette party. Becky has reluctantly invited the old members of her high school clique, which includes spastic and hyper Katie (Isla Fisher) and caustic Gena (Lizzy Caplan). Regan holds the grand supreme title of Maid of Honor, but the trio hardly makes any attempt to please the bride-to-be. Becky’s bachelorette wishes are simple: spend time with her girlfriends at the hotel suite before her big day. But, after an awkward slip up in which Becky hears an old nickname the girls had for her (Pig Face), the casual bachelorette evening comes to a close.
After the party ends, Regan, Katie, and Gena go on a drug and alcohol-fueled rant, which ends with two of them squeezing into Becky’s wedding dress. Their amusement comes to a halt when the dress rips apart. Now, they have a matter of hours to fix it or replace it before the wedding day begins. This straightforward dilemma helps the story take on a traditional comedic plotline, and the ladies end up running all over New York City. They cross paths with the bachelor party, which includes conceited Trevor (James Marsden), who challenges Regan’s ice queen persona, subdued Clyde (Adam Scott), who has baggage to open up with Gena, and Kyle, the one-time high school pot dealer who has always been in love with ex-Homecoming Princess Katie. Throughout the night a rift separates the characters as they choose between momentary catharsis and their objective: fix Becky’s dress.
The cast performs admirably with such depraved material, and all three females (Dunst, Fisher, and Caplan) give spot-on performances. Kirsten Dunst was made to play such a cold character, and she is a “love to hate” delight in this role. Fisher, who is best known for her purely comedic role in Wedding Crashers, portrays a more three-dimensional character in this film. Katie’s behavior goes from giddy and carefree to despondent and broken in an instant. In fact, it is Fisher’s portrayal of Katie that gives the vicious trio its best shot at portraying character depth. Also, Headland is a huge John Hughes fan, and fellow fans will appreciate her multiple references to his films that are peppered throughout the movie.
Bachelorette will be compared to Bridesmaids because of its general plot and female stars, but the similarities stop there. Although superficiality and cruelty permeate this movie, reality checks offer more for the audience to take in. A scene between Regan and Becky ultimately tries to give more power to Becky, the brunt of so many cruel jokes, but the only character who actually is content with her life. Bachelorette is kind of like The Rules of Attraction-meets-The Hangover. Viewers may not enjoy the film if they think Headland forces unlikeable characters into likeable molds, but Bachelorette is more about viewing these characters from a distance and participating in the judging as much as they do. Think about it; with a deadly sin as inspiration, the characters as a whole may seem over the top, but elements of their personas should hit home.
Make a point to see this film and form your own opinion; as nasty as it may be, the characters would want it that way.