It’s inevitable that “Bachelorette” will be compared to a certain other wedding-themed comedy.
The Weinstein Company, which picked up the theatrical distribution of the bawdy, lowbrow yuk-fest – available by video-on-demand since early last month – is no doubt hoping to ride the “Bridesmaids” bridal train all the way to the bank.
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Unfortunately, “Bachelorette” has nowhere near the heart or humanity of that 2011 hit, despite cramming twice the crude humor into a much smaller package. It’s a sour, only fitfully funny affair, wasting the abilities of its otherwise talented cast, which includes Kirsten Dunst, James Marsden, Adam Scott and Isla Fisher.
The biggest miscalculation is in relegating Rebel Wilson (Kristen Wiig’s wacky, scene-stealing housemate in “Bridesmaids”) to a supporting role as the normal girl. It’s a shame, because the actress seems like she could anchor a movie in her own right, if only she were allowed to let her freak-flag fly.
Written and directed by Leslye Headland – who adapted her own play, written four years before the release of “Bridesmaids” – “Bachelorette” revolves around the nuptials of Becky (Wilson), a sweet, blandly likable young woman who is the butt of a steady drumbeat of fat jokes that begin in the film’s first few minutes and never let up. If this is the level of wit that a film opens with, it’s not a good sign.
After announcing her engagement, Becky pretty much disappears for most of the rest of the movie, handing the story over to three of her besties, bridesmaids Regan (Dunst), Gena (Lizzy Caplan) and Katie (Fisher).
Friends since high school, Regan is now shrill and bitter, Gena is promiscuous and foul-mouthed and Katie is a drug-addled airhead. With the exception of Fisher, who brings a fizzy, loose-limbed energy to her ditz character, the actresses portray singularly repellant people. Behind Becky’s back, they profess mystification that their friend, who was called “Pig Face” in high school, is the first of their clique to marry. Perhaps, one of them speculates, Becky has “magic” genitalia.
Why the bride would want to spend any time at all with them – let alone give them a place of honor at her wedding – is a mystery.
Surprisingly, the men fare much better. As the groom Dale, Hayes MacArthur is a decent, caring guy. So is Joe (Kyle Bornheimer), a lovable lummox who has been nursing a crush on Katie since high school. As Gena’s former boyfriend Clyde, Scott plays a reformed jerk, who, after getting her pregnant at 16, is still trying to live down the fact that he didn’t show up for the abortion.
Marsden plays the only jerk: Trevor, a lecherous, superficial slimeball who, I can happily report, in on the receiving end of some payback near the film’s end.
One thing the film gets just right is the air of awkward, forced conviviality at weddings, rehearsal dinners, bachelorette parties and the like. But the film’s central story line – which involves the efforts of the bridesmaids to repair the bridal gown after two of them rip it while mocking Becky’s weight – feels not just forced, but false.
“Bridesmaids” may have been crude, but it also said something about female friendships that felt true. “Bachelorette” feels like it’s about four women who, not even all that deep down, can’t stand each other.
It’s easy to see why.