The premiere for Bachelorette was held on Monday at the Sundance Film Festival, but I cannot find any pictures or mention of Isla being there! I don’t know why … has anyone heard anything? Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan, James Marsden and all the rest of the cast plus the director were in attendance, and apparently the screening was completely sold out, which is good! Reviews for the film have started to come in since the screening, and it’s good/mixed so far. Further down this post are some of those reviews, plus a few links to videos of the other cast at the premiere.
And don’t forget to check out the previous few posts for some fantastic and funny new interviews from Sundance.
– Hollywood Reporter has some videos of the other cast at the premiere
Bachelorette: Sundance Film Review
The Bottom Line
A tasty cast and a good share of snappy dialogue provide entertainment but can’t quite make this pre-nuptials shindig quite the party that it might have been.
Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan and Rebel Wilson star in this acid-dipped comedy, which seems inevitably fated to be weighed against “Bridesmaids,” giving it both a marketing hook and a hurdle to overcome.
PARK CITY – While it may be seen as a heartless attempt to board the Bridesmaids bandwagon, Bachelorette derives from a 2010 off-Broadway play that predates the release of last summer’s surprise blockbuster by a year. But the hit-and-miss screen adaptation, written and directed by the playwright, Leslye Headland, suffers less from that unenviable comparison than from its own flawed conception and execution. Still, its wedding theme and flavorful cast should secure this tart comedy a foothold in the marketplace.
The specter of Bridesmaids looms large in the setup of a wild girls’ night out before the knot gets tied. It’s also there in Becky, the bride herself, played by the wonderful Rebel Wilson, who was also a scene-stealer in the Kristen Wiig vehicle.
The movie starts out with real promise. At lunch in New York, Regan (Kirsten Dunst) orders a Cobb salad, requesting that pretty much everything except the lettuce be held. Becky goes for a cheeseburger and fries, welcoming the addition of whatever didn’t make it onto her friend’s plate. That contrast of joyless refusal vs. exuberant embrace defines the breakdown of their unlikely bond.
When Becky interrupts Regan’s self-absorbed prattle to blurt out that she’s marrying her successful, handsome dream guy (Hayes MacArthur), a priceless grimace clouds Dunst’s face, as if she’s accidentally ingested a carb.
Regan’s shock is shared by pals Katie (Isla Fisher), a ditz festering in clothing retail, and Gena (Lizzy Caplan), whose life in L.A. is a blur of booze, recreational drugs and regrettable hook-ups. Reuniting in Manhattan, all three wonder how the girl cruelly nicknamed Pig Face in high school could be first among them to walk down the aisle. That honor was always destined for Regan. Aggressive perfectionist, Princeton grad, girlfriend to a future doctor and vicious, controlling ice queen, she is embodied to cool perfection and with precision timing by Dunst, whose Melancholia this time around manifests not as misery but as scorn.
In Headland’s play, Becky was absent until very late in the action and had remained friends only with Regan, her maid-of-honor. By introducing the bride from the start, and with such warmth and sweetness, the writer-director raises a question that the movie can’t answer. Why would this adorable zaftig girl want these skinny bitches around on her big day when there’s so little evidence that they ever liked her? Having Katie and Gena also sign on as bridesmaids only feeds that nagging doubt.
Despite this, the establishing scenes have terrific energy and humor, with razor-sharp dialogue flying back and forth and incisive character definition from the cast. But the tonally inconsistent movie steadily acquires an odor of toxicity as the laughs become more mean-spirited.
On stage, the characters’ insensitivity carried an underlying pathos about the deep dissatisfactions of their lives. That dimension is fully realized here only by Fisher. Katie’s insecurities about her superficiality and intellectual limitations are both funny and touching. Fisher also is the most comedically gifted of the key performers. She goes off the rails after too many Cosmos (which she drinks “not ironically,” as Gena points out) and too much cocaine. This throws her together with Joe (Kyle Bornheimer), a besotted former classmate she remembers only when reminded that he was her weed dealer.
Dunst’s brittle, often bluntly malicious Regan and Caplan’s sarcastic trash-mouthed Gena are both enjoyably acerbic characterizations. But they remain mean girls, despite the script’s mechanical efforts to give them an inner life and a hint of humanity as they scramble to fix the spiraling mess they created.
Headland’s writing is strongest when it’s dialogue-driven; her grip on chaos comedy is less assured. While the play was confined to the girls’ wedding-eve hotel suite party (infiltrated by a couple of dates), the action spills out into the New York streets here, to dissipating effect.
Basically, the pre-wedding blowout planned by Regan & Co. fizzles when they inadvertently wound Becky. But the trio continue partying alone until a mishap with the wedding gown sends them on an emergency salvage mission from hotel housekeeping to bridal boutique to strip club to ex-boyfriend’s home. This section is almost a female answer to the similarly crazed odyssey of Martin Scorsese’s After Hours. But Headland doesn’t have a feel for the accelerated rhythms vital to this kind of farcical nightmare, so it hiccups from episode to episode without momentum.
The wrap-up also is unsatisfying, with catastrophe looming at every turn, requiring all of Regan’s dictatorial gumption and Gena’s try-anything resourcefulness.
Headland has no discernible visual sense, so the film lacks a distinctive look, traveling a New York City that could be anyplace. What saves it to some degree is the cast.
The guys are mostly along for the ride. With James Marsden’s best man Trevor a suitably venal male counterpart to Dunst’s Regan, it’s a given that they’ll be humping in a bathroom. As Gena’s still-burning old flame Clyde, Adam Scott goes mano a mano in the cynicism stakes with Caplan, splitting many of the film’s best lines. (An early scene in which Gena breaks down the dynamics of fellatio on a 1-10 scale to her flight seatmate will be widely quoted.) Best of the male cast is Bornheimer, whose scenes with Fisher hint at how much better this frequently inspired movie might have been with a dash more compassion.
The girls are a delight, but all of them, even the monstrous Regan, deserve to be treated with a little more affection by the script. It’s unfair to keep going back to Bridesmaids for comparison, but that film succeeded because the writers genuinely loved their characters, defects and all. Headland instead comes off as feeling superior to hers, so why should we want to hang out with them?
Venue: Sundance Film Festival (Premieres)
Sundance: When the Bachelorette Girls Are Bad, They’re Better
Are you ready for the new queens of mean? Before the Monday-night Sundance screening of the Kirsten Dunst movie Bachelorette, buyers and pundits wondered whether this R-rated wedding comedy might prove to be the next Bridesmaids. Well, it only took ten minutes to dispel that notion: Kristen Wiig may have been a meltdown-prone maid of honor in Bridesmaids, but the women of Bachelorette (who also include Lizzy Caplan and Isla Fisher) make Wiig seem like a Girl Scout. In fact, they’re even crueler and more proudly awful than the amoral female protagonists of Bad Teacher and Young Adult … until, suddenly, the movie loses the courage of its black-hearted convictions.
But let’s start with the good stuff first. Writer-director Leslye Headland’s screenplay (adapted from her own Off Broadway play) is gleefully vicious, upping the ante on what women can do in comedy after that lowbrow watermark was set awfully high by the anti-heroines of 2011. Dunst is a slit-eyed meanie who can’t believe that her fat friend from high school (Rebel Wilson) will make it to the altar before she does, and at the rehearsal dinner, she, Caplan, and Fisher decide to snort as many lines of coke as they can to push through their barely contained condescension. And get a load of this inciting incident: Act 2 kicks in when the super-high Dunst and Fisher steal Wilson’s plus-size wedding dress and climb into it to prove that it’s so fucking huge that it can contain both of their stick figures … and then the gown rips, and our wicked witches must launch a nocturnal quest to repair it before Wilson wakes up for her wedding the next morning and realizes what has happened.
It’s like the Mean Girls got older and no wiser: Dunst is the curdled, self-loathing queen bee Rachel McAdams might have grown up to be, Fisher has the daffy Amanda Seyfried role, and Caplan … well, she’s still the same cynical Lizzy Caplan she played in Mean Girls, now made a newly minted member of the Plastics. But boy, “mean” is the operative word here! The women mock anyone who isn’t thin, pretty, and white, and two of their main love interests — James Marsden and Adam Scott — are proud assholes, too. “I was sort of blown away by how dark and awful [Headland] tried to make people,” Caplan noted after the screening. So were the audience members, who often gasp-laughed at these girls behaving badly.
Still, despite its low budget and indie bona fides, Bachelorette sure feels like it was the victim of studio notes. Though it initially pushes into far nastier territory than Bad Teacher and Young Adult, it also pulls its heroines back at the last minute, giving them each a Sympathetic Backstory (bulimia, depression, abortion) that they can only work through after another character sits them down and monologues at them that They’re Better Than This. You may be in danger of whiplash: Suddenly, the movie turns into the kind of thing the characters have spent the last 80 minutes making fun of. At the Q&A, one audience member who’d seen Headland’s play asked her why the movie stuffed in sympathy that wasn’t on the stage. “I like dark plays, but I don’t like dark movies,” said the director. “Which is really honestly the answer.” Maybe, but the more honest answer seemed to come from Dunst, who answered quickly when asked why she took on the role. “It’s fun being the bitch,” she said.
Sundance: A Dirtier, Smarter “Bridesmaids”
But the big news on Monday night was the packed and buzzing premiere of “Bachelorette,” the smart, ruthless and foul-mouthed wedding comedy that marks the auspicious debut of writer-director Leslye Headland.
Of course “Bachelorette” will be compared to last summer’s hit “Bridesmaids,” because it’s a female-centric and female-created comedy and because of its themes and setting. Headland insists that any resemblance is coincidental, and in fact they’re quite different kinds of movies. This is a rapier-sharp, fast-paced comedy of manners, less concerned with delivering big laughs than with exploring its characters and their complicated interactions. Headland is clearly trying to channel the spirit of John Hughes (perhaps a coked-up and promiscuous John Hughes), but her discursive, self-involved, shamelessly New Yorky characters also suggest the films of Whit Stillman (“Metropolitan” and “The Last Days of Disco”).
Kirsten Dunst plays Regan, the ice-blond control freak who is serving as tyrannical maid of honor for her high-school friend Becky (Rebel Wilson). Mind you, Becky — who is pretty much the designated “fat girl” in their group of friends — has no idea how bitter Regan is about watching her get hitched first. Their other two friends, the permanently trashed Jena (Lizzy Caplan) and the simultaneously dim and depressed Katie (Isla Fisher) definitely do know, and haven’t forgotten that Becky used to be known as “Pig Face” in high school.
We get to know Jena on an airplane en route to the wedding, when she delivers a loud and hilariously vulgar soliloquy to a male seatmate about how she uses her awesome oral-sex talents to manipulate men. Profane, shameless, damaged and clearly intelligent, she’s the most delicious of the threesome, and it’s a breakout performance for Caplan. Isla Fisher gets special points for bravery in portraying Katie, who at first seems almost offensively blithe, idiotic and slutty. (She insists on pronouncing her latest retail employer as “Club Mo-NAH-co.”)
What makes “Bachelorette” special isn’t the basic bride-vs.-bridesmaids setup, nor is it the farcical “After Hours”-esque plot that ensues after the coked-up Regan and Katie accidentally destroy Becky’s wedding dress and have to get it replaced or restored before morning. (There’s no point going into more detail now; I can assure you you’ll be able to see this movie later this year.) That’s really just an excuse for Headland to craft scenes that go in surprising directions — I think she offers the strangest strip-club scene in cinema history — and to reveal unexpected dimensions in each member of her bitchy sisterhood.
It isn’t surprising to learn that Headland’s background is in theater; in some respects, “Bachelorette” is a dense, dark character drama tarted up in high heels and a short skirt and dosed with pills and coke. Can a movie this raunchy about women this mean really be feminist? I think there’s no doubt. As Caplan said during the post-screening Q&A, most of the time playing a woman in an ensemble comedy means trying to calm down and control the wild and crazy guys, whereas this film is exactly the opposite. Yes, Regan, Gena and Katie all develop romantic possibilities over the course of their long night — the best of these is Gena’s awkward, delicate rekindling of a long-lost high school flame (Adam Scott) — but in all their flawed, hypocritical, horndog realness, they are the authors of their own destiny.
Raunchy ‘Bachelorette’ May Be the New ‘Bridesmaids’ (Does the C-Word Count?)
In one of the most memorable early scenes of the raucously hilarious “Bachelorette,” which premiered at Sundance on Monday night, Gena (Lizzy Caplan) explains her ranking system for blow jobs to a random guy on a plane.
She explains why she routinely gives her boyfriends oral sex ranked at 4 or 5, and what is required for him to get an 8 treatment.
Then she tosses off that she might give some stranger on a plane a 10-grade just for fun.
The guy squirms. The audience squirms. And it’s pretty damn funny.
The take-no-prisoners comedy about a group of best girlfriends heading into the anxieties of a wedding is reminiscent in more than one way of “Bridesmaids,” the runaway, R-rated hit of last year.
The movie was written and directed by a woman, Leslye Headland, and as that previous scene demonstrates, is bereft of any self-consciousness around Being Funny.
(No pooping in the street. But plenty of cocaine, stripping and casual c-words.)
The cast is first-rate, including Kirsten Dunst as the ice queen bee; Rebel Wilson as the fatty who is about to be the first to be married of the group; Isla Fisher as the ditzy sex-pot; and Caplan who just about steals the movie as an angry, coke-snorting wild thing.
The conceit of the movie is that the overweight Wilson used to be called Pig Face and seemed least destined to marry, while her slender and beautiful friends just barely keep their heads above desperation as adults.
But that’s really just an excuse for the girls to run rampant and misbehave in ways that good girls never do. Raunchy and R-rated as it is, the movie feels like it could become an anthem for women of a certain age.
At the q&a after the film, Headland said she was going for a John Hughes, anthem-style movie for her time.
“I was mad our generation didn’t have an iconic movie, so I decided to make one,” she said at the Eccles Theater, wearing a studded black dress that could have walked out of the 1980s. “I wanted to make a movie for us, about people like us. Isla is really just a drunk Molly Ringwald.
A questioner asked Wilson if the fat humor bothered her. “I’m drunk right now,” Wilson responded, to general laughter. “They didn’t want to call me Pig Face. But I was all for it. I think it creates a good dynamic.”
This movie seems likely to sell, and fast. And then Gloria Steinem may have some thinking to do.
Bachelorette a less funny Bridesmaids
Though debuting director Leslye Headland based “Bachelorette” on her same-named off-Broadway play that debuted years before “Bridesmaids,” it will inevitably be compared — unfavorably — to that phenomenon.
Less funny, more abrasive and more poorly paced than “Bridesmaids,” the film debuted late Monday night in Sundance’s premieres section.
Headland’s film centers on three basically unlikeable protagonists — a nasty control freak (Kirsten Dunst), a ditzy cokehead (Isla Fisher) and a snarky cokehead (Lizzy Caplan) — reunited for the wedding of an overweight former high school classmate (Rebel Wilson), the first in their group to get married.
Things quickly go bad when a stripper at her bachelorette party refers to the bride by her high school nickname of “Pigface.” Then the two cokeheads damage her wedding dress while trying it on — both at the same time.
In a plot line that recalls both “Bridesmaids” and “The Hangover,” these raunchy bad girls try to repair the damage in a long night filled with strip clubs, cocaine, a suicide attempt by Fisher and sex with Caplan’s ex-boyfriend Adam Scott. The main difference between “Bachelorette” and “Bridesmaids” is that the protagonists of the new film are a few years younger.
Headland — whose direction lacks the finesse of “Bridesmaids” director Paul Feig — says she doesn’t mind the inevitable comparisons.
“I look at it a little like ‘Bonnie & Clyde’ in 1967,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “You have a movie that gets everyone’s attention and all these comparisons are drawn, and they’re not always right. But then it’s like, ‘Thank God, let’s make more movies like that.’ ”
The film, co-produced by Will Ferrell, is seeking a U.S. distributor.
Sundance 2012: ‘Bachelorette,’ (sort of) like ‘Bridesmaids’
The principals behind the new female comedy “Bachelorette” have gone to some lengths to differentiate themselves from “Bridesmaids”; writer-director Leslye Headland even recently released a statement explaining the movies’ fundamental differences.
When her film premiered Monday night at the Sundance fIlm Festival, it was easy to see why such a statement might have been necessary. The glossy comedy, produced by Will Ferrell, shares plenty of similarities with the Kristen Wiig hit: The Headland movie is also a raunch-filled romp, built around comedic set pieces, in which a group of close female friends come to love, hate and ultimately understand each other in the run-up to a wedding.
The queen bee (and yes, there are some “Mean Girls” parallels) is Regan (Kirsten Dunst) who, with best friends Katie (Isla Fisher, in the ditz role) and wild child Gena (Lizzy Caplan) are thrown for a loop when their generally mocked, overweight high-school classmate Becky (Rebel Wilson, in case you weren’t already thinking of “Bridesmaids”) becomes engaged to a man they all covet, leading them to question their own flawed lives.
Barbed insults, drug-fueled partying and, yes, even wedding-dress mishaps ensue when the three come together the night before the ceremony. (A pack of groomsmen is led by James Marsden and Adam Scott, who has his own bit of history with one of the women.) The setting and the emotional dynamics have plenty in common with “Bridesmaids,” and there’s even another call-back here to a forgotten ’90s anthem — The Proclaimers’ “500 Miles” stands in for Wilson Phillips’ “Hold On.”
There are some key differences. The girls are nearly all at least a decade younger and more free-spirited, none of them are married and the goal in at least one case is to get back with a high-school sweetheart, not land a mature thirtysomething. The partying and social situations — for much of the film, it’s not easy to find a scene without drug use, a strip club or a sex scene — are generally played more aggressively than “Bridesmaids.” “I think it’s more hard core,” Caplan said on the red carpet before the screening. (The movie also goes to a surprisingly dramatic place in its last half-hour as the broad-ish comedy from the opening sections is all but forgotten.)
Headland, a playwright making her feature debut, would also be right to point out she started writing the script nearly four years ago and based it on an off-Broadway play she created, long before “Bridesmaids” was ever shot.
The director told 24 Frames before the festival she didn’t mind the comparison as much as you might think: “I look at it a little like ‘Bonnie & Clyde’ in 1967,” she said. “You have a movie that gets everyone’s attention and all these comparisons are drawn, and they’re not always right. But then it’s like, ‘Thank God, let’s make more movies like that.'”
Still, whoever buys this film for U.S. distribution will need to worry about the comparison. No matter how much pundits like to talk about a “Bridesmaids” wave, it will be difficult to market a movie like this without risking the “didn’t Kristen Wiig just do something like that?” reaction; on paper, there are plenty of similarities. Those marketers may best be served by going the misanthropic route. As Caplan said on stage after the screening. “I saw [Headland’s] play and was blown away by how dark and awful she was willing to make people.”
Sundance 2012: ‘Bachelorette’ no ‘Bridesmaids’
Bachelorette: Comparisons to genre-busting R-rated comedy Bridesmaids are inevitable for Bachelorette, a much darker twist on the raunchy galpal adventure that was one of the most hotly anticipated movies at the Sundance Film Festival.
Stars Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan, Rebel Wilson, James Marsden and Adam Scott as well as producers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay were all at the jammed premiere screening at the Eccles Theater Monday night.
Leslye Headland wrote and directed the movie, based on her 2010 off-Broadway play about three high school girlfriends who are for some reason in the bridal party for Becky (Wilson), a chubby outsider they used to call “pig face” in their younger years. Ice queen bulimic Regan (Dunst), sex-and-drugs-fueled smart-mouth Gena (Caplan) and manic ditz Katie (Isla Fisher) decide what uptight fatty Becky needs is a bachelorette party at their swank Manhattan hotel suite in the hours before she says “I do.”
But their Mean Girls routine goes too far — doesn’t it always? Disaster strikes and amid the projectile vomiting, sex, strippers and mountains of cocaine hoovered up pert noses, lessons about friendship are learned — sort of.
While it’s similar in so many ways to the superior Kristen Wiig smash ensemble comedy (including a blast-from-the-past high school hit song as theme) Bachelorette is more aggressive and often nasty. It’s also very funny, but the darkness starts to wear. A far better entry in this burgeoning new class of galpal flicks is Lauren Anne Miller’s For A Good Time Call…, which premiered at Sundance Saturday. It stars Miller and Ari Graynor as a pair of frenemies who find the best way to pay the rent is by starting a phone sex line. According to Deadline.com, it has sold for $2 million to Focus Features.
Sundance 2012 Review: Nasty, Toxic ‘Bachelorette’ Is ‘Bridesmaids’ for People Who Hate Their Friends
We’ll get this out of the way right off the bat – Bachelorette is not Bridesmaids, though the film’s premise (three girls embark on a bachelorette party adventure for a bride they hate!) sounds like the perfect post-Bridesmaids feature for a ladies’ night out. In reality, Leslye Headland’s film is a production that’s perfectly crafted for people who hate their friends. Toxic, nasty, and ugly, Bachelorette reaffirms stereotypes about women (they are bitches! They are sluts! They are emotionally unstable!) and their relationships (they secretly all hate each other!) that should have disappeared from cinema (and the world) long ago.
We never quite know why Regan (Kirsten Dunst), Katie (Isla Fisher), and Jenna (Lizzy Caplan) are still friends – we can only assume it’s because no one else wants to associated with such horrible shrews. Pals since high school, the trio call themselves “the b-faces” and appear to spend most of their time bitching about other things and people. They are all unhappy in different ways – control freak Regan thinks she’s done everything right and still nothing is happening to her (hint, no one cares if you went to Princeton if you’re a huge, raging bitch to every single person you meet), airhead Katie is sick of work retail but thinks she’s not smart enough for anything else (that brief moment when she gets idiot savant about fashion? Don’t worry about it, that little bit of character development will never resurface) and pops pills to mask her pain, and Jenna doesn’t do much of anything (unless you count banging random dudes and get coked up as anything, which Jenna does).
The three come back together for the wedding of Becky (Rebel Wilson), a fellow b-face that they all secretly hate. While the b-faces are in disbelief that Becky can get married (but, but she’s fat!), Wilson doesn’t even earn automatic sympathy, mainly because (just like everyone else) she’s so thinly drawn that it’s hard to get to know any of her other traits. Beyond her extra heft, the only things we learn about Becky is that she’s got terrible taste in friends and has a weird panache for blurting out things that make no sense (“I’m so happy, I could buy a gun!”). After Becky objects to a traditional bachelorette party (leaving Jenna’s bottle of cocaine, no, a literal bottle) useless, the other b-faces end up finding themselves in a real pickle (due, of course, to their terrible behavior) and have to spend the rest of the film running around Manhattan to right a wrong. Thank God there’s all that cocaine for them to hoover up to fuel their escapades!
Along the way, they run into the wedding’s groomsmen, guys who are just as gross and revolting as they are. James Marsden is the best man, a cad to the point of breaking the law. Even Adam Scott (who plays Caplan’s ex-boyfriend) spends the first two-thirds of the film behaving despicably before suddenly turning sweet and sentimental. It’s not just a weird flip, it’s a poorly-written one. The only character who has anything that resembles redeeming values is Kyle Bornheimer as Joe, who gets the title of “nicest character” simply because he doesn’t have sex with a girl so drunk she can’t even remember his name. Bachelorette has standards!
But what’s really most egregious about Bachelorette is not the posionious, awful characters that we don’t care about – it’s that Headland makes a third act play for emotion and depth that’s just not present in the rest of the film. After over an hour of Dunst, Fisher, and Caplan cavorting around New York City, making ever-worse decisions and saying continually horrible things to everyone they meet, Headland expects us to care when their behavior has real consequences. No dice.
The film does have a smattering of funny lines, mostly one-liners that come in the first act of the film. Isla Fisher is particularly funny for the first twenty or so minutes of Bachelorette, playing a dumb bunny to perfection (Katie is the sort of girl who can’t even pronounce the name of her workplace). Headland’s first outing as a director is filmed with a quick energy and briskness that keeps things moving around. A playwright by trade, Headland doesn’t seem afraid to move the camera or locations. But that proves detrimental over time, as Headland seems intent on shucking the theatrical tendency to tell rather than show, which is one of the main reasons why her characters never feel more than just one-dimensional, because they don’t tell us anything.
Bachelorette is Headland’s first feature film, and the film is based on one of her previous plays of the same name, part of her cycle of seven plays based on different sins. Bachelorette is meant to represent gluttony, and the girls certainly consume enough alcohol and cocaine to meet those criteria. But Bachelorette is more about the gluttony of toxic emotions, as Regan, Katie, and Jenna feed on those more than anything. Headland’s play cycle was a success, and defenders of Bachelorette will likely point to the plays as reasoning why everyone in the film is so awful – “it’s like that in the play! They are terrible people there, too!” That just means there’s more ugly material out there in the world, it doesn’t defend the poisonous emotional wasteland that is Bachelorette.
The Upside: The film has a number of one-liners that show solid comedic timing from both Headland and her cast. There’s possibly a kernel of a good film here – one where the characters are just regular people who make some mistakes, not toxic assholes who wage war against each other at every turn.
The Downside: Toxic, crude, rude, mean, poorly structured, free of character development, nothing in the way of honest emotional impact, I could go on and on.
On the Side: The film will inevitably be picked up for studio distribution, thanks to its marketable cast and easy (and cheap) summary – “it’s The Hangover for chicks!” No, sorry, it’s Bridesmaids for people who hate their friends. Stick that on a poster.
Sundance: ‘Bachelorette’ is a new kind of chick flick, caustically clever yet without a romantic bone in its body
It reduces the hilarious humanity of Bridesmaids to sum it up, simply, as the comedy that proved that girls in a movie could be just as gross and raunchy as guys. Yet there’s no denying that it did prove that. The movie, for all time, busted down that door. Bachelorette, a long-sloshed-night-before-the-wedding comedy that’s as caustic and brittle and high-strung as its damaged-princess heroines, zooms through the door that Bridesmaids kicked open without ever looking back — and, while it’s at it, it busts open half a dozen new ones. In Bachelorette, girls behaving badly isn’t just a joke, it’s a way of life.
In the opening scene, set in Los Angeles, Becky, who is sweet and plus-size and deeply self-conscious about it (she’s played by Rebel Wilson, Kristen Wiig’s cockney freak of a roommate in Bridesmaids), informs her best friend, the lovely platinum-blonde ice queen Regan (Kirsten Dunst), that she’s engaged, an announcement that Regan greets by just about choking on her lunch with jealousy. That’s what a petty, lacquered bitch she is. Most of Bachelorette takes place six months later, in Manhattan, on the eve of Becky’s nuptials, which is of course the perfect occasion for a drug-drenched bachelorette party that spins wildly out of control. But this isn’t a daffy clockwork farce like the Hangover films; it’s more like a relentless, revved-up pageant of naked feminine dysfunction. The setting may be New York, but at heart Bachelorette is a very L.A. movie, one in which vanity has become toxic. It’s a comedy of values about young women who don’t have any.
Regan, who’s the maid of honor, is joined by Becky’s two other childhood friends. There’s Gena (Lizzy Caplan), a gothy motormouthed neurotic who it would be hard to insult, since she revels in being a completely wasted skank. She describes her philosophy of performing oral sex — basically, it’s her way of trading favors — with a clinical bravura that makes it sound like she’s working her way up to launching her own amateur porn site. Then there’s Katie (Isla Fisher), a suicidally insecure ditz who sells clothes at Club Monaco, where she can barely restrain herself from ridiculing the customers to their faces. These two spend the film snorting enough cocaine to give an elephant a heart attack (which only heightens their nattering narcissism). As for Regan, who at one point is described as being to other girls what Hannibal Lecter is to serial killers, she doesn’t need drugs — she gets high on hating others, and hating herself too. The whole movie is an overdose of wrecked party-girl masochism.
The three bridesmaids, during a woozy late-night prank, end up tearing Becky’s humongous wedding dress asunder, and so they go out on the town, dragging the increasingly sorry garment around with them, trying to find a way to repair it even as it’s being subjected to blood, semen, and other nasty mishaps. Bachelorette has a script as cutting as a serrated knife; it was written by its first-time director, Leslye Headland, who based it on her Off Broadway play. Headland’s dialogue has a nasty misanthropic zing that ups the ante on Mean Girls and Heathers. Yet the most distinctive feature of Bachelorette is that while the characters’ behavior may seem over-the-top, the movie isn’t. It’s staged realistically, with crisply lit shots and elegant flowing camerawork and a tone of matter-of-fact dissolution that says: This is no mere satire! It’s the way these girls — and, by implication, a lot of girls — really are.
But are they? Some of the movie is funny in a merciless, this-is-a-chick’s-brain-on-drugs sort of way, yet it’s kind of unsettling to watch a comedy in which each of the three main characters could be the messed-up, self-pitying token loser in another comedy’s far more agreeable wolf pack. Each of the trio has a guy she’s passively pursuing (they’re played by James Marsden, Kyle Bornheimer, and the always droll Adam Scott), yet their encounters devolve into the most frantic of hookups, so that we can barely tell if we’re supposed to be rooting for things to work out. In this movie, bad sex and good sex look like pretty much the same thing.
Bachelorette, when it premiered last night, was probably the most hotly anticipated movie of the festival. It’s not just the Bridesmaids connection; it’s that the film so gleefully pushes the envelope — of shock language, of giddy self-destructive coarseness. There’s a kind of rush in seeing actresses as charming and accomplished as Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, and the saucy Lizzy Caplan take on characters who are this essentially dislikable. One sequence is set at the Scores strip palace, where two of the women come close to blending in, and that makes sense: Though they keep their clothes on, they kind of seem like strippers. The question I have is: When a comedy like Bachelorette rubs our noses in the maniacal, Snookie-style, Jell-O-shot decadence that a generation of women, competing with the guys they’re after, now regard as their birthright, is that movie asking us to see through their antics — to understand the hunger that’s being masked? Or is it merely reveling in the new numbness? Bachelorette takes the form of a romantic ensemble comedy, but it’s purged of any real romantic feeling. You’ll laugh, maybe a lot, but you probably won’t feel great about it in the morning, because the movie looks at love the way a bulimic looks at food.
*** (three stars)
The title “Bridesmaids” was taken. So was “Mean Girls.” Either would be appropriate for this angry comedy by first-time writer-director Leslye Headland. Control freak Regan (Kirsten Dunst), party girl Jenna (Lizzy Caplan) and ditzy Katie (Isla Fisher) all panic when the fourth member of their high-school clique – Becky (Rebel Wilson), whose obesity prompted the cruel nickname “Pig Face” – becomes the first in the group to get married. The three reluctant bridesmaids go through self-inflicted hell the night before the wedding, with a damaged wedding dress, a trip to a strip club and other misadventures. There’s also a guy for each girl, with Jenna dealing with her ex Clyde (Adam Scott, Caplan’s “Party Down” co-star), Katie being pursued by puppy-dog Joe (Kyle Bornheimer), and Regan meeting her match in the boorish Trevor (James Marsden). Headland’s script will draw inevitable comparisons to the Oscar-nominated “Bridesmaids,” but the key difference is that the characters here (except for Wilson’s Becky) are uniformly nasty and unlikeable. Even so, the comic performances, especially by Fisher and Wilson, generate plenty of laughs before things turn really dark.
Sundance 2012 Day 6: Rock on a roll
Speaking of Q&A’s, by far the most honest response I’ve ever heard from a Sundance stage came from “Bachelorettes” co-star Rebel Wilder after the film finished screening at around midnight: “I’m really drunk right now and I need to find the toilet, so I don’t remember the question.” After that, neither did anyone else. The movie divided the audience, mostly because it plays like “Bridesmaids” (sorry, filmmakers, the comparison’s unavoidable) with a pronounced nasty streak. Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, and Lizzy Kaplan play the mean-girl best friends of bride-to-be Wilder, still acting out their clique roles as, respectively, the Queen Bee, the dummy, and the slut. Wilder was the fat one who made the others feel better about themselves; now she’s marrying a rich hunk and sending her friends into fits of suppressed rage.
First-timer Leslye Headland directs from her stage-play, a spiraling-disaster comedy that sends the three into the night to repair the wedding dress and their own pathetic love lives. The dialogue is filthy and pretty damned funny, and the cast fires it off without ever caring whether they have your sympathy, which is refreshing until it isn’t. “Bachelorettes” is one of those daring indie farces that pats itself on the back for resisting convention for two acts, then gives in to every one of those conventions in the third. I will say this, though: God bless Isla Fisher, who gives every one of her dimwitted lines of dialogue an adorably wide-eyed top-spin. “I think I might be stupid,” her character says at one point, a conclusion the movie itself might have reached to its benefit at some point.
Dunst, Caplan head up raunchy ‘Bachelorette’ premiere
The Sundance Film Festival got its raunch on Monday night with the world premiere of Bachelorette.
Cast members Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan, Rebel Wilson and James Marsden were on hand to kick off the film about three friends (Dunst, Caplan and Isla Fisher) who reunite for the wedding of a friend they actually used to ridicule in high school (Wilson).
This was one hot ticket in Park City, Utah. The likes of co-producer Will Ferrell, Harvey Weinstein and Rashida Jones were among the lucky 1,000 or so who packed into the auditorium. Outside, disappointed customers had to be turned away from the late-night screening (and they were not happy).
The people needed their raunch fix. And they got it. The movie is a darker, nastier Bridesmaids with a lot of cocaine — and strippers, more F words and a drug overdose. You get the idea.
The cast gleefully plays up their terrifying onscreen characters. Dunst is a backstabbing control freak whom people call “Lecter” behind her back. Marsden makes sure you never forget that guys really are not great people either. Fisher is sublime as the ditzy, beautiful friend with a self-destructive streak. If they could give an Oscar for acting drunk, she should just walk right up and accept it. It is, after all, the state of mind she’s in through most of the movie.
It wasn’t for everyone, but the movie definitely has momentum.
“I’m feeling good vibes,” Dunst told USA TODAY about the film.
Sundance Reviews: Black Rock, Bachelorette, And For A Good Time Call Put Women Up Front
It’s funny how expectations can work for Sundance premieres, where you’re often seeing a movie that literally no one you know has laid eyes on and you may know nothing about– in this era of huge hype and marketing, that’s a rare thing. So seeing Bachelorette at its premiere on Monday, I had just a few things to go on, namely the starry cast made up of Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan and Isla Fisher in the lead roles, and the concept of a bachelorette party gone wrong that seemed to be The Hangover meets Bridesmaids. That’s not just a movie that’s easy to sell, but the kind of thing you’re dying to see after a few days of dark and difficult Sundance films.
Turns out, Bachelorette was one of the darker and grimmer movies I’ve seen here, an attempt at black comedy and painful honesty that takes a veer into meanness early in the second act and never recovers. Kirsten Dunst expands on her brittle Melancholia performance to play the type-A former bulimic Regan, who runs the upcoming wedding of her friend Becky (Rebel WIlson) with ruthless precision but also near-constant condescension. Because Becky is fat, all three of our prettier, more famous leads made fun of her in high school and continue to do so– it’s an accurate detail about certain types of frenemy relationships, but also quickly establishes our leads as nightmarish assholes who doesn’t deserve any of the redemption the story is about to bring their way.
To be fair to writer-director Leslye Headland, making her directorial debut after a career in theater, these mean characters and the adventures they go through could have worked as black comedy, and Caplan and especially Dunst are giving their all to characters who feel well-rounded and fascinating whenever the actresses sit still for a minute and let us get to know them. But the movie’s tone gets too sharp and hostile as soon as the post-bachelorette-party shenanigans begin, and what ensues isn’t funny enough to make up for it. No one wants a movie full of only relatable and sympathetic characters, but everyone in Bachelorette is either brittle and awful or so thinly sketched (as with Fisher’s ditz character) that they can’t matter. It’s frustrating to see so much potential trip up on its own dark tone, especially when there are so many glimmers of potential greatness, from the occasional great joke in Headland’s script to Dunst’s go-for-broke performance. Bachelorette is almost guaranteed to get picked up at the festival given its starry profile, but where a lot of the fest’s comedies have been bright spots, this is just a troubled one that sounds better on paper.
Will Ferrell-Produced ‘Bachelorette’ Is Not Quite ‘Bridesmaids’ [Sundance 2012]
First-time filmmaker Leslye Headland‘s Bachelorette will get a lot of comparison’s to Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids. These comparisons are unfair. Each do have famous female actresses starring in comedies about crazy stuff that happens leading up to a wedding but, where Bridesmaids is funny from start to finish and has a heart to boot, Bachelorrette has a bunch of hilarious moments that never quite suck you in. It’s a fun movie, no more and no less, thanks in large part to the cast which includes Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizze Caplan, Adam Scott and James Mardsen. Party Down fans will be pleased.
What you notice right off the bat with Bachelorette is that these girls aren’t nice people. The film’s bride-to-be, who is marrying before her friends, is an overweight girl (Rebel Wilson from Bridesmaids) the characters call “pig face.” They do cocaine and have sordid, promiscuous pasts rife with self-loathing. Still, as the film begins, those with a wicked sense of humor will come to embrace these characters for those terrible traits and it’s fun to see how far they’ll go.
An incident with the bride’s wedding dress then sets the film off in a different direction and, slowly but surely, as these characters become slightly more human, they become less and less interesting. All this leads to a happy (ish) ending that feels like another movie entirely.
Party Down fans will be happy to see Caplan and Scott bickering again and Fisher is back to her cute, crazy, Wedding Crashers self. Also, for a first time director, Leslye Headland also does a hell of a job making a very 2012 movie. It just needed to be more coherent to really bring it home.
/Film rating – 6 out of 10
Sundance Film Festival: Scathingly funny ‘Bachelorette’ catches a bouquet of thorns
Surveying the crowd at an 8:30 a.m. Tuesday showing of her film “Bachelorette” at the MARC Theater (basically Park City’s racquet club), writer-director Leslye Headland had one question.
“What are you all doing here?”
Because Headland’s characters, three rude and debauched bridesmaids (Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan, and Isla Fisher) sure wouldn’t be anywhere that early in the morning. And it’s doubtful they’d ever set foot in an athletic club.
Anyone who thought “Bachelorette” would be a “Bridesmaids” also-ran was quickly disabused of that idea; it’s much filthier and meaner, with three lead characters who the audience is openly encouraged to dislike. But it’s also really funny — being that close to such horrible behavior is almost a contact high — and in the end, darned if Headland doesn’t pull the audience around to kind of root for them.
The three childhood friends are brought together for the wedding of a mutual friend Becky (Rebel Wilson) who was always the unpopular one of their high school clique. Regan (Dunst) is the righteous ice queen who seems permanently angry at the world, Gena (Caplan) lives her life as one extended boozy party, and Katie (Fisher) is a ditzy soul who wears her ignorance proudly.
When the trio accidentally rip Becky’s $15,000 wedding gown, they embark on an all-night escapade to rectify matters that somehow involves cocaine, a strip club, and various body fluids. Beneath the mayhem, Headland smartly captures the rivalry that underlies a lot of friendships. And for all those male comedians and writers who still say that women can’t be as funny as men, “Bachelorette” has a punch in the kidneys for you.
Headland was doing interviews for the movie and couldn’t stay for a Q&A. But she did say that she was nervous that she wouldn’t be able to attract known actors like Dunst to play such unlikable parts.
“Kirsten sat down across the table from me, and the first thing she said was, ‘I love her,'” Headland said. “I was like, ‘Yes!'”
Bachelorette – Sundance 2012 Review
In Leslye Headland’s debut feature film Bachelorette, the playwright-turned-filmmaker takes a comedic premise and adds an edgy twist of serious substantive issues. Its a delicate balancing act that in the wrong hands could be completely borked. Yet the first-time filmmaker is able to deftly capture a sense of camaraderie between three different female characters, none of which are perfect or cookie-cutter representations typically seen in romantic comedies. Instead there is an unabashed realness to the way the characters act while also hitting the comedic high notes. It’s no easy feat and despite a few uneven moments in tone, Bachelorette delivers a darker comedy experience that isn’t afraid of shattering your preconceived notions of the sometimes tepid genre.
The story centers around a group of four women, one of which has just announced her plans to get married. The unlikely bride is Becky, played by Rebel Wilson who you may recognize from another popular movie about bridesmaids. However the two films couldn’t be more different in terms of their approach on the subject, so don’t expect this to play like a sequel despite the inevitable comparisons. Becky’s three BFFs consist of the prickly and uptight Regan (Kirsten Dunst), the cocaine fueled rebel Gena (Lizzy Caplan) and the ditzy airhead Katie (Isla Fisher). After reuniting on the night before the wedding, the girls jealously of Becky and their desire to party hard leads them down a wormhole of strippers, drugs, alcohol and wedding dresses.
Bachelorette doesn’t pander to its audience and that’s it’s biggest strength, it shows people in a rawness that is rare for this type of film. The dialogue is sharp and witty with great one-liners scattered throughout. One scene in particular where Gena discusses her theory on oral sex to a stranger on airplane is particularly hilarious and had the audience in stitches. The secondary male characters played by James Marsden, Adam Scott and Kyle Bornheimer all do a great job of giving each female a good foil, while not being overly stereotypical and cliché. The balancing of each narrative thread is concise and easy to follow, giving the multi-pronged plot a good sense of momentum as it builds to its conclusion.
Some early reactions to the film faulted it for having overly negative characters or characters that are hard to relate to. This couldn’t be farther from the truth in the sense that Headland has chosen to focus on the darker side of our human psyche. It also gives her the freedom to address serious issues like obesity, bulimia, drug addiction and suicide in a surprisingly mature fashion. This combination of clever scenarios, witty banter and serious subtext elevates Bachelorette beyond the standard limitations of romantic comedy and provides a headstrong debut for a playwright/filmmaker with an undeniably strong voice for the 90s generation.
Lizzy Caplan talks to The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter: How do you feel about inevitable comparisons between these movies and Bridesmaids?
Caplan: Well, the script for Save the Date had been around for years and years, and I only became attached to it recently. It’s really very different than Bridesmaids; and Bachelorette started as a series of plays in New York. But one thing is for sure, had Bridesmaids not ended up being so amazing and successful, we would never have been able to make Bachelorette. So we are in awe of Bridesmaids and totally owe them so much. Both of my movies are rated R and have a lot more, kind of, drugs and darkness, though. (Laughs.)Save the Date feels like a quiet story about two sisters and the men in their lives, kind of reminiscent of the quieter rom-coms of the 1990s; it’s very character-driven and not as wedding-focused.
THR: And Bachelorette?
Caplan: I play a girl named Gena. All three characters — mine, Isla Fisher’s, Kirsten Dunst’s — are extremely screwed up, terrible human beings. My character had something happen to her in high school because of her boyfriend, played by Adam Scott, and she’s held a very severe grudge for many, many years and is just pretty much pissed at the world. She hates everybody, which is always a fun character I seem to get to play a lot. The movie is based on a series of seven plays that our writer-director Leslye Headland did. They were based on the seven deadly sins, and this one was gluttony. Leslye is amazing and will become a powerhouse writer-director in the very, very near future. She and I were actually developing a television show together for like a year that went nowhere and then from the ashes of that came this movie.