In the first few minutes of writer-director Leslye Headland’s “Bachelorette”, a couple of the main characters are ordering lunch, and it results in quite a diverse, mixed spread between them.
Headland’s film, though based on a play, seems to have been conceived the same way – a bit of this, a splash of that, a side serving of that, and a huge slab of whatever’s popular. The mix doesn’t quite work, and there’s been some over ordering in some departments and some under ordering in others, but by-and-large, the very un-PC comedy satisfies despite its mad mesh and over eagerness.
Not surprisingly, being based on Headland’s own play, it’s the chit-chat between the central characters that saves the film. Whether it be the crass jokes, numerous bits of melee concerning sexual behaviour, or minute moments of sweetness between the film’s main group, the converse is where the goods lie.
In a nutshell, “Bachelorette” tells of three unlikeable skanks (played by the diverse mix of Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan, and Isla Fisher) that reunite to put on a hen’s night for the young woman (Rebel Wilson) they mercifully teased in High School. If they didn’t make the poor lass’s life enough of a hell in school, the four definitely do when left in charge of the party- too many drinks flow, hot blokes take precedence over event planning, and wedding dresses are ruined (by man soup). It all spirals out of control, but comes together in the end… as you’d expect.
Plays and films are different beasts, we know. And just like ”Mamma Mia” and ”Rock of Ages”, ”Bachelorette” the movie differs from its original source, too. In this case, those additions and subtractions hurt the film more than help though.
As opposed to the play, here the bride of the story is introduced within the film’s first few minutes, as opposed to the third act of the play. That’s all well and good, and shouldn’t make much of a difference, but by introducing the harried, badly treated good-girl friend (Rebel Wilson) earlier, audiences are only going to ask “why is this woman even friends with these horrible girls?”, right!? It snips all believability from the film to have such a good-natured person wanting to even spend time with such cows. For the sake of the film, Headland needed to write the ‘bride’ as someone a little skankier and less likeable – we’d believe she’d actually be friends with the main quartet, but also, it needed to change the guts of the story at all; it’d work just as well, if not better. Also, and possibly more damagingly, proceedings don’t seem to flow as well on film as they do on stage – with audiences bound to lose interest in spots, and ultimately questioning whether ‘that’s it?’ when the end credits begin to roll at the stumpy 91-minute mark. I know I did. Scratch. Scratch. Cranium blood. Ouch.
With Will Ferrell and Adam McKay on the film’s board of producers, you at least know you’re going to get a few good belly laughs. And that’s true – a few being the operative word; unlike other films of a similar ilk, the jokes aren’t as well written or as distinctive here and that’s one of the films main letdowns. But those that do work, work really well, and it’s to the credit of not only Headland but the two actresses that get to deliver the lion’s share of the fab funnies – Caplan and Fisher. As the films two token party hards, the “True Blood” and “Home & Away” alums, respectively, give your gut a good workout whenever they begin openly speaking about their sexual conquests or participate in the kind of obtuse, observational sex chatter that worked so well in Paul Feig’s “Bridesmaids”. Between them the attractive brunette and redhead, correspondingly, utilise some choice curse words and sexual melee to draw good laughs. Fisher, in a role not unlike the one she played in fellow nuptials-centric rib tickler “Wedding Crashers”, also seems to be one of the few of the actors involved that’s seen the play, if her performance is anything to go by.
The other cast aren’t half-bad either, just a pity there wasn’t more for capable thesp Dunst (“Melancholia”, “Spider-Man”) or rising up-and-coming comedienne Rebel Wilson (also in “Bridesmaids”) to do. You could argue that the girls are playing the “straight men” of the flick, so in essence they’re doing their jobs, and shouldn’t have any really rib-tickling funny lines or moments – but Kristen Wiig would likely call that a void defence. Dunst, to be honest, seems a bit lost here and Wilson, who is at her best when playing a zanier, more unconventional character, has been dolefully miscast as the priggish good-girl.
Adam Scott, James Marsden and Kyle Bornheimer, plus a warped LP full of cool tunes from yesteryear (mostly, the ’90s), support the femme foursome with zest and add appeal. But again, better jokes might’ve been more welcome than a couple of recognisable cameo players and some Edwyn Collins music.
Still, for the few great jokes that are in it, and some fun work from hot potatoes Fisher and Caplan, “Bachelorette” is a party worth gatecrashing – just don’t expect to be laughing and dancing all night. There’s definitely minutes that drag.