Slant Magazine – September 7th 2012

Interview: The Bachelorettes

Isla Fisher loves to say “fo’ shizz.” During a breezy interview, she spouts the slang at least four times, in a lovely Australian accent that makes the delivery that much funnier. Bubbly as champagne, the ginger comedienne also can’t sit still. She swivels in her chair, then does a mock magic trick with her cell phone, pretending to make it vanish by merely dropping it on the floor. It’s a disarming bit of impromptu slapstick, and within seconds, Fisher is on all fours, pawing around for her phone at the feet of this interviewer. Such is the scene at the New York press junket for Bachelorette, the naughty new female comedy that sees Fisher play a badly behaving bridesmaid alongside co-stars Kirsten Dunst and Lizzy Caplan. Seated at the head of a long table, all three ladies inspire glances at the glasses in front of them, just to confirm that the glasses are, indeed, filled with just water. The actresses quickly prove that inside-joke-filled bonds are par for the course with close-knit movie shoots, and they’re so fired up and giddy that they repeatedly need to be reigned in.

“Get it together!” Fisher playfully barks at her cohorts, none-too-subtly directing the order at herself as well.

Though Fisher and Caplan insist that Dunst is nothing like Regan, her Gestapo-esque maid of honor (“[Kirsten is] sweet, mellow, loving, and easy-going” Fisher chirps), it’s clear within moments that this film’s three leads were rather perfectly cast. It’s true that Dunst doesn’t exhibit the venom of Bachelorette’s queen bitch, who loves and loathes Rebel Wilson’s bride-to-be, Becky, as part of her own self-esteem balancing act, but of the trio, the 30-year-old star is definitely in the question-fielding driver’s seat, perhaps because she’s simply been at it the longest (it’s she who points out the full-circle nature of her latest role, saying she hasn’t unleashed such anger on screen since breaking through in Interview with the Vampire at age 12). Thirty-six-year-old Fisher, meanwhile, exudes all the manic energy of Katie, the party-girl alter ego she says writer-director Leslye Headland let her co-develop (“That scene where [Katie] can’t remember the guy’s name?” Fisher says, “I wrote that in my trailer in the morning”). And Caplan, 29, whose first big role was a goth outcast in the like-minded Mean Girls, seems well-stocked of the semi-brooding introspection possessed by her on-screen counterpart, Gena.

“I think that all three of our characters are suffering from arrested development,” Caplan says. “I actually see my character as a very wounded and afraid person, who does all of this stuff [drugs, promiscuous sex] to distract herself from feeling uncomfortable and afraid of her own life. I can totally identify with that—this idea of numbing out reality in whatever way, even if it’s just watching TV.”

“Oh, she just got deep,” Fisher adds in a snap.

“Yeah, look at that,” Caplan says, throwing up a thug-like hand gesture. “I got deep in the Bachelorette interview.”

However unexpected, there are some deep issues at the core of this modern frenemies romp, which follows the three bad girls through a mad, all-night quest to repair the bride’s dress on the eve of her wedding. Headland, who adapts her own off-Broadway play, successfully surveys some gnarled contradictions about modern female friendships, which seem to steadily gain complexity as the gender divide narrows. Regan, Katie, and Gena always used the plus-size Becky to boost their own egos, but her lead down the aisle has them angrily scrutinizing their statuses and success. The event proves the ultimate two-faced affair: Smile and help the bride while hating her for coming out on top and upsetting the natural order.

“It’s a risky thing to show that visual representation of us three versus this girl,” Caplan says, referring specifically to Becky’s weight. “But Rebel’s character is winning at the game of life, far more than we are. Leslye said something really smart about gluttony, which was the theme of this play. Immediately, what comes to mind with gluttony is that it involves consuming too much food. But we’re actually the gluttons, and Becky’s doing okay. I think it’s kind of a bold, scary thing to put all this in front of people, but I think it’s just so obvious when you just look at us versus Rebel in this movie that one person is succeeding in life and the others are really drowning in it.”

Also reinforcing Headland’s knack for messy friendship truths is the notion that Regan, Katie, Gena, and Becky are drastically different, and don’t seem like a quartet of gals who’d wind up as a clique. Perhaps it’s a case of the three most popular girls in school adopting their personal punching bag, or a common bond formed thanks to collective self-loathing. Or perhaps it’s just a fairly accurate take on the unpredictability of connection, a topic that gets Caplan, Dunst, and Fisher all recounting their own high school histories.

“I really liked high school,” Fisher says. “I went to an all-girls school and it was nice and easy. We didn’t pick on anyone for their weight. It was just a good vibe.”

“In my high school, everybody was into different stuff, but we were still all friends,” Caplan says. “It wasn’t some homogenized group. I think it’s weird that people think [friends are] supposed to all be exactly the same. My high school was like an artsy high school, where the weirder you were, the more popular you were. It wasn’t one of those cheerleader/football-player schools.”

“Well, mine definitely was!” Dunst offers with a laugh. “Very much so. But in one lunch group, it was very eclectic. My girlfriend was a cheerleader and also in the drama club. My other girlfriend had a class-president vibe and was great at sports. I had a very good group. I would downplay myself in high school because I didn’t want to be picked on for being an actress, and they always saved my seat when I went away to make a movie.”

“Aww,” coos Fisher.

As the conversation zigzags, and the ladies get caught up in asides as random as jokingly dissing drama and recasting Bachelorette with the American Pie ensemble (“We’re losing our minds,” Fisher says), there’s eventually the inevitable talk of Bridesmaids. Do comparisons bother them?

“We’re thrilled!” Fisher shouts. “[Bachelorette] got made for zero money, and [Bridesmaids] got made for tons of money, and I love that movie and we really like our movie too. It’s all good. There’s room in the playpen for all the kids.”

“Amen,” Caplan says.

“I like that,” adds Dunst.

It’s intriguing to hear feedback on the state of female comedies from the very females who bring them to life. Dunst is quick to voice the opinion that these characters need to spring from a woman’s mind, with a woman’s voice, and the more success that allows for that, the better. Caplan echoes the sentiment. As for Fisher, she’s thinking bigger. Propping herself up in her chair by sitting on one of her bare feet, she promises, “When I’m studio head I will ensure we get more of these movies! Greenlight! Greenlight! That’s what I’ll say when they bring in the scripts.”

In the meantime, any chance for a Bachelorette 2?

“I don’t think there’s a sequel here,” Dunst says.

Cue Fisher: “Oh, there’s a sequel here. Fo’ shizz.”