It’s often hard to get yourself into a movie when its characters are such truly awful people. Unless you’re an asshole yourself, it’s much more challenging to try relating to or understanding with people who don’t seem to operate under our societal norms… or if they’re even of this planet. They live on a totally different level than the rest of us, one typically devoid of any moral or ethical code, where selfishness and rudeness are perfectly acceptable behavior. In real life, you wouldn’t want anything to do with these personalities, so spending time with them by choice during a movie can a chore. With that said, I completely embraced the three bitches around which BACHELORETTE revolves (and I’m not trying to be derogatory towards women; the trio of characters would probably be the first to admit that’s exactly what they are). It may not be as laugh out loud funny as I had hoped, but there is enough to watching Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher and Lizzy Caplan in their most despicable forms as the worst friends/bridesmaids anyone could ask for to have you watching the film with an incredulous smile throughout.
Dunst is the real bitch on wheels of the bunch, with Fisher slipping into the role of the dumb girl and Caplan the coked-up slut, who are all called upon to be part of the wedding party for their friend from high school (played by Rebel Wilson, tasked with being the straight woman in the equation after her hilarious turn in BRIDESMAIDS). It’s natural to try to compare those two films, because of the similar subject matter, but they couldn’t be more different. BRIDESMAIDS still managed to maintain a sweetness to its comedic material as it took its comedy down a raunchy route… BACHELORETTE knows there’s no place for such a thing in a film that features new theories on blowjobs and strippers wiping their jizz hands and dirty pussies on an increasingly ruined wedding dress, and doesn’t even try to travel that route. There’s nothing redeeming about any of these characters, and BACHELORETTE wears that as a badge of honor.
Forced to come together after getting fucked-up and ruining the bride’s dress the night before the ceremony, there is no compassion or urgency in the three’s actions towards rectifying the problem, not if it means inconveniencing themselves or infringing upon their own distant dreams of marriage. Dunst’s Regan would literally rather lick the New York City sidewalk than allow the easy fix of having someone who’s supposed to be one of her best friends walk down the aisle in what she one day hopes to wear in the unlikely event that some man can put up with her shit long enough to marry her. Fisher’s Katie continues to ingest more and more substance, whether it comes in powder, pill or inhalent form, because having a good time is far more important than solving the situation she had a hand in creating. Caplan, as Gena, seems to be the only one trying to take matters into her own hands by fixing her fuck-up, but that priority is going to have to take a back seat towards reconciling her past with an ex-boyfriend (Adam Scott) whose a part of the groom’s side of things.
Fisher’s role has been done to death with the girl who doesn’t understand what anyone is talking about any of the time having been driven into the ground for easy comedy (“Haha… she’s stupid… so that’s instantly funny.”), but Dunst and Caplan shoulder the load of letting their best horrible people shine through in order to bring BACHELORETTE together. Dunst can be grating at times during the film, a pratfall for such an unlikeable role, but when the shit really hits the fan in the third act, as the frantic craziness of the wedding day escalates, Dunst owns the uncaring tenacity of Regan strongly enough to excuse any of her earlier shortcomings. At times, there just isn’t enough for Regan to do, except wait around for the next opportunity for her bitchiness to spring into action, but when she does get the chance to kick it into gear, it’s an intriguing side of Dunst that we haven’t seen before.
Caplan is the true star of BACHELORETTE, as there’s some emotional depth revealed in her back story that lends some justification to her flawed personality. Her back-and-forth with Scott doesn’t feel forced for laughs, coming across more as an honest portrayal of two fucked-up people seemingly made for each other. Her behavior is far less outlandish than her two partners-in-crime, which allows Caplan to resonate as someone who may actually care for her bride of a friend really deep down somewhere. She’s not just a caricature of a heartless bitch… she just happens to be that way.
The men don’t escape the audacity of dickishness that BACHELORETTE lives and dies by. There’s something wrong with James Marden’s character, and he’s not sure what… but a diagnosis of just being an asshole is quite clear to the naked eye. He soaks up the disgraceful territory he gets to live in for the film, as evidenced by his cold behavior in a strip club, but it goes to show you that no one is off-limits in the film when it comes to being genuinely contemptible.
There are ample openings for BACHELORETTE to go for gross-out, but it’s a path it prefers not to take. The film’s dark comedy ultimately rests with how well you can get around accepting its loathing characters. I found something about their reprehensible actions surprisingly riveting, making BACHELORETTE an entertaining watch for me.
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