August 31, 2012

Bachelorette

A movie review by James Berardinelli



Bachelorette

COMEDY:

United States, 2012

U.S. Release Date:

2012-09-07

Running Length:

1:32

MPAA Classification:

R (Profanity, Sexual Content, Drugs)

Theatrical Aspect Ratio:

2.35:1

Cast:

Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan, Isla Fisher, Rebel Wilson, James Marsden, Adam Scott, Hayes MacArthur

Director:

Lesley Headland

Screenplay:

Lesley Headland

Cinematography:

Doug Emmett

U.S. Distributor:

Radius TWC

Subtitles:

none


Sometimes a movie is so good it makes me glad I'm in the business of writing reviews. Bachelorette is not one of those.

Sometimes a movie is so bad it makes me want to go into seclusion and never see another film. Bachelorette is one of those.

I don't often use the words "godawful" and "abomination" to describe a movie, preferring to reserve such terminology for extreme instances when I feel duped and mortally offended. Case in point: Bachelorette. Often with a bad film, I search for something positive or productive to say, cognizant as I am that there are real people with real feelings behind the production. That won't be happening here. When it comes to watchability, the only thing to distinguish this from Freddy Got Fingered (the turd standard for cinematic badness) is the absence of the sexual molestation of animals. And one could make a convincing argument that the sexual molestation of animals might improve Bachelorette. This possibility that this might not be the worst movie of the year is frightening to contemplate.

Here's filmmakers' recipe: take elements from two popular movies (in this case, The Hangover and Bridemaids), make the protagonists the most unbearable shrews imaginable, suck out anything that might be mistaken for humor, and throw lots of money at a few "name" actresses willing to sell their souls for the cause of replenishing their bank accounts. I wasn't the biggest proponent of Bridesmaids when it was released, but I recognized instances of humor that some viewers might find funny and I laughed a time or two myself. A level of craftsmanship was evident. The same cannot be said about Bachelorette, which appears incapable of recognizing the difference between what's funny and what's simply crude. Lots of the latter, none of the former. Yes, bad words can sometimes provoke laughter. If Betty White says "fuck," for example, it's comedy. The same cannot be said of Kirsten Dunst. Yet we are expected to laugh aloud every time she utters a naughty pronouncement. Look, Mary Jane said "fuck you!"

The most infamous scene in Bridesmaids occurred when a group of friends visited a dress shop after eating tainted food. Bachelorette sort-of tries to replicate this, but without even a vague understanding what makes gross-out humor funny. Here, one of the characters overdoses on Xanax. Her fellow bridesmaid helpfully sticks two fingers down her throat until she gags and vomits into a bathtub (getting some on her friend for good measure). Surely that's a can't-miss gag. I'm having trouble containing the laughter as I write about it. And, to add to the hilarity, we get a few well-placed zingers about bulimia. Yes, writer/director Leslye Headland knows how to get audiences rolling in the aisles.

The set-up is straightforward, built on a foundation of sitcom-friendly contrivances: when "Pig Face" Becky announces her engagement, she expects three high school bullies to be in her wedding party. They are: Regan (Kirsten Dunst), the Type-A personality with a love for profanity; Gena (Lizzy Caplan), the slut with ex-boyfriend issues who also loves profanity; and Katie (Isla Fisher), the airhead who's usually too coked-up to care about profanity. The night before the wedding, the bridesmaids' partying gets out of hand and they accidentally rip the plus-size wedding dress. The rest of the movie focuses on their noble quest to either repair the dress or find a new one. Along the way, there's plenty of sex (without nudity), whining, drinking, whining, cocaine snorting, whining, alcohol, and whining.

The three leads are bitches. There's no nicer way to put it. They are self-absorbed, foul-mouthed, vicious, hateful creatures whose level of inhumanity would put the average movie villain to shame. Alan Rickman's Hans Gruber would bow down in awe. Hannibal Lecter would applaud with approval. And Darth Vader would acknowledge their strength with the Dark Side. Being forced to spend 90+ minutes in the company of such a trio is more than a reasonable person should be asked to endure. For a Republican, it's like having to suffer through an hour and a half in the company of Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, and Ed Schultz. For Democrats, it's akin to hanging out with Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Ann Coulter.

The leads are Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan, and Isla Fisher. In the future, they will probably quietly delete this title from their filmographies. Appearing in a Uwe Boll production would be more prestigious. I would love to see the number of zeroes left of the decimal place on the paychecks. Still, even for someone like Dunst, who has to appear in the occasional mainstream piece-of-shit in order for her to be able to continue participating in obscure fare like Melancholia, it's worth asking if she couldn't have found something a little less repugnant.

Using my rating system, it's harder for a movie to get zero stars than four stars, so I suppose that's something of a dubious achievement. Comedies are the most subjective of all movie types, but trust me when I say that, regardless of what you find funny, it won't be found in Bachelorette. Watching this is a form of torture and, if you actually invest money and time in seeing it, the joke will be on you.

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