Regan (Kirsten Dunst) wasn’t ready for this moment. Despite her every effort to overachieve and otherwise surpass her peers, she couldn’t be prepared for Becky (Rebel Wilson) dropping the bombshell. Out of the four high school “B-Faces,” Becky’s getting hitched first, and Regan can hardly disguise her disdain over it. She instantly calls up Gena (Lizzy Caplan), hungover as ever, and the more bubbly Katie (Isla Fisher) to deliver the awful news. They’re shocked, but quick to see a silver lining: At least they get to throw the bachelorette party...
To go ahead and clear it up now, writer-director Leslye Headland’s “Bachelorette” is an adaptation of her own 2008 stage play, meaning that she likely did not foresee the massive success of 2011’s “Bridesmaids” (in which Wilson also happened to star). However, the fact of the matter is that this female-driven, wedding-themed comedy probably has more of a chance in the marketplace now because of that female-driven, wedding-themed comedy, and at the end of the day, “Bachelorette” is a brisker, cattier creation with its own charms and foibles.
For starters, this is more of an ensemble effort, gamely led by the trio (and potentially awesome law firm) of Dunst, Fisher and Caplan. The blonde personifies her character’s brittle control-freak manner on a bone-deep level, the redhead fuels her own shallow persona with countless drinks and drugs, and the brunette mostly allows apathy and cynicism to lead her to the next groggy morning. While these three actresses each boast their individual charms, whether icy, bubbly or droll, they wield Headland’s banter well and together do a swell job of defining the mutual superiority complex that has kept them friends after all these years.
As the night’s shenanigans press forth, each leading lady gets inevitably paired up with a man. Regan finds herself at odds with the caddish Trevor (James Marsden, in perfectly smug form). Katie takes off with well-meaning Joe (Kyle Bornheimer), who’s reluctant to take advantage of her in the way to which she’s so begrudgingly accustomed. Gena is reunited with Clyde (Adam Scott), with whom things had previously ended on a sour note. They all make fine co-captains of their own so-so subplots, but Headland falls prey to the traditional second-act lull of the stage just when the farce should be escalating.
Trimmed slightly since Sundance, the back-end sentiment now feels a little less disingenuous after so much manic behavior. However, the film still suffers from an ungainly shift back into the home stretch, when last-minute panic is casually lathered up, even as a character ends up going through the serious business of essentially getting their stomach pumped (although Regan’s old habits do pay off nicely here).
Meanwhile, Wilson’s aloof bride-to-be could have feasibly been the one “B-Face” who didn’t mind getting picked on if it meant getting to fit in, but her rationale for still hanging out with the likes of these three remains ill-defined, and she remains something of the odd girl out as far as the comedy’s concerned.
If nothing else, at least the ultimate sentiment of “Bachelorette” suggests that these women don’t need to forgive one another -- or, God forbid, have a man fix them -- so much as they need to fix themselves. Until that much-needed moment of realization, though, they make for pretty funny failures along the way.
“Bachelorette” is currently available On Demand and opens in select cities on September 7th.