This past week while my dearest friend Joe was in town, we spent one evening shoving Mexican food in our faces and trying to decide which movie to rent. We settled on Bachelorette because Joe claimed that Chelsea Handler liked it, and I suppose that made me watch the trailer. That and the fact that it had Lizzy Caplan and Adam Scott reunited (both starred in the awesome Starz series Party Down) as well as Isla Fischer.
The trailer convinced us, so we rented it.
The plot is simple, almost Hangover-esque. The bridesmaids get in to shenanigans the night before their friend’s wedding. There is a race against time to fix things before she walks down the aisle, etc. Basic idea.
But Bachelorette is a hilarious movie about horrible, horrible people. Really the least horrible person, and I suppose I would even call her The Victim, is Rebel Wilson as Becky, the friend who is getting married. She’s the most endearing, and in between laughing you remember this is all at her expense and you suddenly feel awful for thinking that any of it is hilarious.
But it still is.
The trick that director Leslye Headland pulls on us is that these characters are real. They aren’t the normal characters you see in comedies, where they do crappy, selfish things and then feel bad about it and apologize and become better people by the end. No. There are no apologies. I don’t think they ever even apologize to Becky for everything they do to her.
However, Headland catches us judging them and says “Oh no no, they are just as flawed and human as you and you friends are.” We all have friends like these. We may even be one of them.
Kirsten Dunst’s Regan is the controlling, type A bitch that can’t understand how her seemingly sloppy, overweight friend that they called “Pigface” is getting married to a successful, handsome man before she is. The very first scene demonstrates this. Regan orders a salad and lectures Becky about her choice in men while Becky orders a full meal and looks awkward while her friend drones on and on, failing to recognize that Becky has news to share. There’s immediate disbelief when Becky announces her engagement, and Regan calls the other two friends and they bitch about it.
The other two being Gena and Katie, played by the enormously talented Lizzy Caplan and Isla Fischer, respectively. Gena is the caustic, glass-half-empty, “lazy” friend who could care less, and Katie is the resident spacey, enthusiastic-but-dumb-as-hell friend who is also a drug fiend. They are awful. They do shitty things like put on Becky’s wedding dress and try to fit two of them inside of it so they can take a picture and put it on Facebook.They do coke at the rehearsal dinner and give toasts that go beyond funny and into awkward and sad. As Stephanie Zacharek said in her review for NPR:
“. . .instead of telegraphing its ‘Girls can be raunchy, too!’ message every minute, Bachelorette simply allows its characters’ ids to run naked and free.
When Caplan. . . eagerly suggests that Fischer and Dunst cram themselves into that wedding dress so she can snap a photo of it and tag the bride’s Facebook page, she’s not looking over her shoulder to make sure everyone’s taking note of how brazen she is. She’s simply a monster of modern self-absorption.”
But then the three bridesmaids spend the whole night running around and trying to fix their mistakes. And we see that they’re not completely awful, just mostly. That they’re just humans, selfish and messed up like the rest of us. A lot of people want to criticize the film for having such unlikable protagonists, but I think that outrage is a little unfounded. Haven’t we all had those moments where we supremely screw up and end up in a hungover haze thinking “What the hell am I doing with my life? Where did all of this go wrong?”
We’re all screwed up somehow, Bachelorette is just shoving it into the spotlight.