Movie Review: ‘Bachelorette’

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Did you enjoy “Bridesmaids” last year, but wish it had been a bit more cynical, mean-spirited, and druggy? “Bachelorette” is here to take similar material in a much darker direction. It’s not perfect but is still very funny and even more audacious.

Written and directed by Leslye Headland, “Bachelorette” was actually in production before Kristen Wiig’s hit movie was. And while “Bridesmaids” wasn’t exactly all sweetness and light itself, “Bachelorette” makes it look like a pedestrian Kate Hudson romcom.

“Bachelorette” concerns friends Regan (Kirsten Dunst), Gena (Lizzy Caplan) and Katie (Isla Fisher), all 30-ish, gorgeous single women whose unfulfilled lives are further complicated when their overweight high school friend (Rebel Wilson) becomes engaged to a handsome rich guy.

Aside from the opening scene the movie goes in the “one crazy night” genre, as the characters spend the long night before the wedding partying, attempting to rescue the destroyed wedding dress, and confronting the unhappy places life has taken them. Throughout there’s a whole lot of cocaine and alcohol, plus references to bulimia, abortion and past suicide attempts.

Dunst is very good as the queen bee control freak maid of honor, whose character is summed up in a monologue about how she’s “done everything right”- gone to college, dated a medical resident- but “nothing is happening” for her, while forgetting about the part where she’s a wretched, wretched human being. Between this and her revelatory turn in Lars Von Trier’s “Melancholia” last year, it appears weddings plus depression is the key to any great Dunst performance.

Fisher, though, isn’t quite up to the dark turns her character takes; I suppose there’s a reason she never got any kind of post-“Wedding Crashers” career bounce. Wilson- who was also in “Bridesmaids” as Kristen Wiig’s British roomate- has a couple of good scenes too.

But the movie belongs to Lizzy Caplan, who’s been long overdue for a breakout movie role. She’s introduced giving a memorable monologue about oral sex to an airplane passenger (played by SNL alum Horatio Sanz) and never dials it down from there. Fans of Party Down are treated to a reunion of that show’s central couple, Caplan and Adam Scott.

The men in the film are very funny too, especially James Marsden as an alpha male doofus who makes a run at Dunst. Kyle Bornheimer, a veteran of several failed sitcoms, also makes a good impression as a nerd who falls for Fisher.

There are just a couple of places in the third act where the movie steps wrongly and fails to ring true. A character recovers way more quickly from a drug overdose than I’d imagine is probably typical, while another character gives a best man toast that would likely get him kicked out of any wedding in real life.

“Bachelorette,” which is currently both in theaters and available on demand (through Amazon and cable providers) may not be as funny or groundbreaking as “Bridesmaids,” but it’s still an enjoyable and brave comedy.

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