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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 7, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 36
Ribald Bachelorette a wild walk down the aisle
Arts & Entertainment
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Ribald Bachelorette a wild walk down the aisle

by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

Bachelorette September 7

Becky (Rebel Wilson) is getting married. She's brought back together her old high school clique, asking former best friend Regan (Kirsten Dunst) to be her maid of honor. Also along for the ride are the sarcastically sexual Gena (Lizzy Caplan) and the ditzy yet lovable Katie (Isla Fisher), the group on paper complete opposites yet in practice absolutely accepting of one another for who they really are.

Not that this makes the night before the wedding any less chaotic. Regan is upset she's not the first to walk down the aisle, and she's intent on throwing a bachelorette party so over-the-top that it will become an urban legend. But Becky doesn't want that at all, and when she puts her foot down this forces her three bridesmaids to clandestinely head into town for an after-hours fete all their own.

Comparisons to The Hangover are unavoidable, as both that comedy and Bachelorette deal with a wild night gone wrong and its repercussions on a beloved friend's nuptials. But in many ways, writer/director Leslye Headland's debut is far more complicated, finding a ribald and risqué way to dive headfirst into female relationships like few similar films, including last year's hit Bridesmaids, have done. Adapting her own play, she's delivered a foul-mouthed exposé that's as hilarious as it is profound, as touching as it is uncouth - and while the outcome is never in doubt, getting there is so much fun that the lack of originality in the climactic moments is nowhere near the problem it might otherwise be.

Dunst is hysterical. At the same time, her ferocity is colored with a passionate depth of pain and self-inflicted suffering that's immediately palpable. She's the sort of Type-A firebrand that's become something of a modern stereotype while at the same time managing to make Regan a pitiable figure of doubt and insecurity, someone a lot of women can sadly relate to. This is a naked performance, raw and unvarnished in all the ways that matter, Dunst proving once again (as if she needed to after Melancholia, All Good Things, and The Cat's Meow) she's one of the more underrated actress working slightly under the radar today.

Caplan and Fisher also shine, the latter somewhat surprisingly so, but their characters don't have nearly as many shadings or prove quite as interesting as their costar's. The trio as a whole do have melodious chemistry with one another, however, as well as with their male co-stars - James Marsden, Kyle Bornheimer, and Adam Scott - who come into their circle during their night of debauchery. They're clicking on all cylinders, and whether they're screaming obscenities, shouting off-color putdowns, or embracing one another as sisters, their journey intimately connects practically every step of the way.

There aren't any surprises as far as the narrative itself is concerned. As great as the relationships she's created are, Headland's script doesn't go anywhere that isn't anticipated four or five beats beforehand. The final scenes are surprisingly flat and somewhat banal, partially muting the rousing emotionally complex hysterics that came before. Becky's wedding isn't so much a letdown as it is a flaccid snooze, the rousing highs of the first two-thirds left in the stampeded high-heel-laden dust.

No matter. When Bachelorette gets things right - when it is running full-speed-ahead barking out what's on its mind and presenting its three heroines as the complicated sympathetic emotionally resonate messes they are - the comedy soars to heights that had me wanting to cheer. Headland is a filmmaker with inspiration and talent to burn, and when her next effort is ready for courting I'll be first in line to walk down the aisle hand-in-hand with it.

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