Bachelorette

BACHELORETTE. Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Rebel Wilson, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan, Hayes MacArthur, and Adam Scott. Directed by Leslye Headland. Rated MA15+. Restricted. (Strong coarse language, sexual references and drug use). 84 min.

This American comedy-drama film is based on the play by the same name written by the director of the movie, Leslye Headland

Three young women are asked to be bridesmaids at a wedding of a woman they didn’t like a lot at high school. The film has elements that are similar to “The Hangover” (2009) and “Bridesmaids” (20011), where young adults spend a night before the big day, swearing, drinking, having sex, taking drugs, and slicing at one another verbally.

Regan (Kirsten Dunst), Gena (Lizzy Caplan) and Katie (Isla Fisher) are the bridesmaids at the wedding of Becky (Rebel Wilson). They are supposed to be friends, but they cut away at each other, and they reserve their anger most for Becky, who arouses their ire because they are jealous of the fact she has become engaged. All of them are promiscuous, ego-centric and foul-mouthed. Regan wants to micromanage every detail of the wedding, and Gena hasn’t got over her high school boyfriend (Adam Scott), who happens to be a groomsman at the wedding. All three women were happy to call Becky, “Pigface”, at high school.

The women’s reaction to Becky is caused by the fact that they all feel as if they deserve what she now has. Becky’s fiancée, Dale (Hayes MacArthur), is tall, good- looking, rich, and attractive, and he is someone they all feel they might want to marry. They resent the fact that Becky, who they barely tolerated at school, and who they see as not nearly as attractive as they are, is marrying first.

The evening before the wedding, the bridesmaids party hard and accidentally rip Becky’s wedding dress. Most of the movie revolves around their trying to repair the dress, or find a new one. Within a short period of time, while Becky sleeps, the gown is mixed with garbage, is stained with a nose-bleed that is cocaine-induced, and the dress is used as toilet paper. After looking for a dry-cleaner or a seamstress, the women crash Dale’s bachelor party, and follow him to a strip club. Throughout, there are copious toilet jokes, lewd language, and generally awful behaviour. Most of the women engage in questionable sexual activities, all of the main characters are unhappy, and it is impossible to know what keeps them bonded together in their meanness to each other.

At the end of the film, the characters are a little more likeable, but not a lot. All the women, for instance, find relationships that they think will be good for them. Headland tries to soften some of the edges of their bitterness, but her attempts to do so occur too late. Fun-times and meanness are mixed together too well, and the film engages in too much sex, aggression, lewd talk, and drug-abuse.

What went wrong with aspects of “Bridesmaids" goes wrong with this film, except this movie is arguably dirtier, and takes crudity to a higher level. One wonders why any film needs to show women behaving this grossly so as to put the message across that women can emulate males behaving badly. The movie tries to make it all look like a feminist comment on the awfulness of male behaviour (and there are examples of that in the movie), but ends up painting women in a very demeaning way. In the film, it is almost impossible to differentiate between what is funny and what is crude. Some of the lines in the movie are sharp and witty, but frequently they descend into obscenity, and the comedy rarely recovers from its vulgarity.

At the end of the day, there are parts of this movie that make one cringe. Rather than a bitingly funny satire, as it might have been, the film picks up some of the worst aspects of “The Hangover” and “Bridesmaids”. It is all about a trio of self-loathing individuals behaving foolishly, and searching for a way out of their angst.

Peter W. Sheehan is associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.

Hopscotch Films.

Out 1st. November, 2012.