The first mistake made with Bachelorette was telling it from the wrong perspective. The plot involves a wedding for an overweight woman whose size made her an easy target for ridicule in high school. Rather than tell the story from her point of view, which would have been much more compelling, writer/director Leslye Headland (who adapted her own stage play) instead focuses on the woman’s former tormentors who, for reasons I cannot begin to fathom, have been chosen to be her bridesmaids. What logic was this woman using when planning her wedding? Would you invite the three girls who called you Pig Face for four straight years? Would you ever be under the delusion that the girls who made fun of you were in any way, shape, or form your friends? This is what I mean about wrong perspectives; it would be interesting to probe the mind of a character who mistakenly believes she can only ask her enemies to be her bridesmaids.
The second mistake was to assume the audience would invest in the tormentors. At no point does Headland attempt to make them likeable – or, at the very least, interesting enough for us to find them engaging. They’re despicable, self-centered women who act like clowns and spend a majority of the film either drunk, high, in hot pursuit of sex, having tantrums, or some combination of all of the above. Their individual subplots make it clear that they care not one iota about the woman they used to mock, nor do they care about her wedding. This is despite the fact that the plot centers on a ripped, bloodied, and organic fluid-stained wedding dress they need to mend and clean in the hours before the bride awakens and discovers it missing. By what can only be attributed to divine intervention, the final act is devoted to each tormentor taking the first steps towards getting her act together, and by the end, everyone is hugging and laughing.
The bride is Becky (Rebel Wilson), who’s remarkably high spirited and astoundingly imperceptive. She should have been the main character, and yet her total screen time could not have been more than ten or fifteen minutes. We instead follow the awful bridesmaids as they dash madly through New York City attempting to fix Becky’s dress. The maid of honor is Regan (Kirsten Dunst), perpetually stressed over organizing the wedding, constantly on her cell phone, bitterly jealous that the fat Becky is getting married before her, especially because Becky’s fiancé is decent and good-looking. There’s Gena (Lizzy Caplan), a zonked-out party girl who’s only attending the wedding because it will finally give her the chance to confront Clyde (Adam Scott), her ex-boyfriend from high school. And then there’s Katie (Isla Fisher), who, like Gena, spends a majority of her scenes high on cocaine and behaving like an immature brat.
It’s amazing how they take Becky’s wedding and manage to make it all about them. It doesn’t help that they each have a male counterpart, primarily to turn their subplots into sexual exploits and/or professions of love. Into Katie’s life enters Joe (Kyle Bornheimer), an awkward combination of the shy nice guy and the clueless pothead. In this sense, he and Katie are perfectly matched; she doesn’t remember him from high school, and he’s initially too smitten to notice that her advances on him are purely physical and have no emotional subtexts. For a brief time – as a matter of fact, a very brief time – Regan interacts with Trevor (James Marsden), an insensitive chauvinist pig if ever there was one. How the groom could be ever friends with any of these men, I have absolutely no idea. Then again, the groom is shown on film even less than the bride, so it’s not as if we ever get to know him.
I think I was most dumbstruck by the character of Clyde, who does not congratulate or say anything at all about the bride and groom during the wedding. Instead, he uses the occasion as an opportunity to admit publically that he still loves Gena, and unfortunately, this involves a lot of sexually explicit dialogue and him butchering the first few bars of The Proclaimers’ “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles).” At what point did this movie become a formulaic romantic comedy? Why would he still be in love with her, given her clearly problematic drug addiction? Why would she still be in love with him after ... a time she really needed him to be there and he wasn’t? More to the point, why should we care? These are not the people Headland should have developed, if I can even use that word. This needed to be Becky’s story.
I seem to be asking a lot of questions in this review. Let me pose a few more. Is overdosing on Xanax funny? Is inducing vomiting by sticking your fingers down someone else’s throat? Is watching a stripper repeatedly wipe her crotch with the hem of a wedding dress, perhaps because she thought it was a towel? Headland has some very peculiar notions about what an audience is likely to laugh at, including jokes about bulimia, bullying, and abortion. What’s even more peculiar is her belief that we could find anything redeeming in three unmistakably irredeemable people. Not even an electron microscope would be able to detect any decency. And don’t even get me started on the bride, who must be remarkably insecure if this was the best she could do for bridesmaids. Bachelorette is such an unpleasant movie, wrongheaded in its approach to plot, character, formula, dialogue, and humor.
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About the reviewer
Chris Pandolfi (Chris_Pandolfi)
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more