Directed by Leslye Headland. Starring Kirsten Dunst, Rebel Wilson, Lizzy Caplan, Isla Fisher, James Marsden, Adam Scott, Kyle Bornheimer, Ann Dowd. (2012, R, 93 min.)
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Sept. 28, 2012
It would be easy to classify this wedding-themed comedy as this year’s Bridesmaids, but that would merely underscore how few women-centered comedies are out there for comparison. Bachelorette – at least in its first half – is a dangerously funny movie about four old college friends on the eve of one member’s nuptials. Rebel Wilson (who also co-stars in this week’s opener, Pitch Perfect) plays Becky, who is about to get married and invites her three old pals to be her bridesmaids. Regan (Kirsten Dunst) is a Type-A character, Gena (Lizzy Caplan) is cynical and often rude, and Katie (Isla Fisher) is a happy ditz. Thin and beautiful, all three women feel superior to fat Becky, who is the first of their group to get married – which proves there is no justice in matters of matrimony. A night filled with flutes of Champagne and lines of cocaine winds up with the bridesmaids accidentally ripping Becky’s wedding gown (as they are mocking its tent-sized dimensions). That event leads them on a long night of escapades as they try to get the dress fixed or replaced.
The catty and raunchy humor of the first part gives way in the second to greater soul-searching and angst, which is a shame because the comedy gets weighed down by this ballast. Director Leslye Headland also wrote the screenplay, which is based on her play The Bachelorette. The performances are snarky and funny and are not improved by the shift to more sober reflections. A pat and unrealistic conclusion further dampens the film’s frothy tone. Yet the funny stuff is impertinently delightful and honest, and delivered expertly by this female ensemble. Material this hilarious and astute is a rare thing in the few comedies that dare to be dominated by women, so when the opportunity to join in the fun comes along, don’t slip on a banana peel rushing to the theatre.