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By Philip Martin

This article was published September 21, 2012 at 3:49 a.m.


Gena (Lizzy Caplan), Regan (Kirsten Dunst) and Katie (Isla Fisher) are the randy bridesmaids in Leslye Headland’s dark comedy Bachelorette.

— Bachelorette

87 Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan, Rebel Wilson, Adam Scott, James Marsden, Kyle Bornheimer, Andrew Rannells Director: Leslye Headland Rating: R, for sexual content, pervasive language, and drug use Running time: 87 minutes

I think it’s pretty standard practice among critics to refrain from reading other people’s reviews before they write their own. There are practical reasons for such prophylactic measures — it’s awfully easy to forget that you didn’t just come up with an especially apt turn of phrase your own self. So I haven’t read any reviews of Leslye Headland’s Bachelorette yet.

But I have looked at some of the aggregator sites of which some of you people seem so fond. And what? Metacritic is giving this film a 52? Rotten Tomatoes has it at 56? Huh?

Now I’m not saying Bachelorette is a great film, because it’s not. But it is a very funny (and very sad) movie that will likely hit a lot of people unnervingly close to home. It feels like only slightly heightened reality, and I’m inclined to say it’s in many ways a better film than the obvious (though probably unfair) reference point, 2011’s Bridesmaids. (I liked Bridesmaids, but without Kristen Wiig’s remarkable performance, I’m not sure I would.)

But whatever. Certainly a movie about mean and pathetic women who curse constantly while indulging in recreational drug use and haphazard sex is not something everyone can get behind. But Bachelorette is about a billion times better than Grown Ups or The Change-Up. Leslye Headland is a smart, observant writer with a knack for how people really talk when they’re not performing for an audience. She’s fearless — and the three actors she features in this film give vanity-free performances.

OK, lecture over. Bachelorette has a very simple premise — three former high school vixens (called the “B-faces” back then) reunite as bridesmaids for the fat girl who hung around to take their abuse. Regan (the inimitable Kirsten Dunst) is the alpha here, a driven self-starter who had determined to be the first in the clique married off. Gena (Lizzy Caplan) is the slightly more slatternly of her lieutenants while Katie (Isla Fisher) is the slightly ditzier one. (And the one who does so much cocaine that she’s often referred to as “that” — as in, “Did you have to bring that with you?”)

Rebel Wilson is (sort of) stuck with the role of Becky, the perpetual outsider who in high school was called “Pigface.” But, though she has landed a handsome, rich and remarkably nice guy husband, she’s not gloating.

After a debacle of a rehearsal dinner, Regan and Katie, egged on by Gena, together climb into plus-size Becky’s wedding dress for a Facebook photo op. In doing so, they rip it — which sets them off on one of those wild night missions that end up with each of them confronting their dark passengers — and various groomsmen.

But there’s no soft center here, no sweetness lurking to cut the tart. This is a raw and genuinely brave film that falters here and there, but gets up swearing and snarling, a razor in its pretty little hand.

MovieStyle, Pages 33 on 09/21/2012

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