PLOT: When a childhood friend announces she's getting married, three bitter young women come together for a raucous bachelorette party that spirals out of control.
REVIEW: Last year, when BRIDESMAIDS was on the verge of being release, many derided it as "THE HANGOVER for chicks." If you've seen the film, you know that isn't the case at all, having turned out to be a more in-depth and heartfelt look at two women's friendship. Well, here comes BACHELORETTE, which can be called "THE HANGOVER for chicks," as it's about the boozy, drug-fueled night out on the town for a trio of crass females on the eve of their friends' wedding. It's a film for people who think the "Sex and the City" girls are too polite and demure.
The film, written and directed by Leslye Headland (based on her play), introduces us to three young women, all of whom come off, at least initially, as caricatures. You have Regan (Kirsten Dunst), the bossy, uptight one who, despite playing the role of little miss perfect her whole life, is still without a man and is absolutely blown away when her friend Becky (played by BRIDESMAIDS scene-stealer Rebel Wilson) gets engaged, despite the fact that she's dorky and overweight. Then you have Gena (Lizzy Caplan), a smartass and semi-slut who carries a chip on her shoulder thanks to having her heart broken over ten years ago. Finally, there's Katie (Isla Fisher), a bubbly ditz with the intellect of a 13-year-old. It must be said that each actress embodies her role quite perfectly (to the point of typecasting, really), so we're off to a decent start.
The girls come together for Becky's wedding in New York, even though their main goal while there is to party like maniacs/drown their sorrows. Regan is given the task of organizing everything for Becky - whom the girls referred to as "Pigface" in high school, and still do - and that includes a bachelorette party that doesn't last very long. After the bride has gone to bed, the girls almost immediately ruin her dress - gasp! - and now have a craaaazy night ahead of them trying to fix it.
Of course, there's got to be some men in the mix, so each girl gets to square off uneasily with a guy who is perfect for them: Regan gets a callous lothario (James Marsden) who calls it like he sees it; Gena has to deal with her high school ex (Adam Scott), who she still has the hots for; and Katie hooks up with a goofy everyman (Kyle Bornheimer) who's the nicest guy of the bunch so naturally she can't even remember his name.
These gals are really bad news, and the movie's entire conceit is transparent: hey, the girls can be just as bad as the guys! But honestly, the protagonists in BACHELORETTE aren't just naughty when they party - they're genuinely unlikable people. When they're not trashing hotel rooms and ripping dresses, they're snide, petty, passive-aggressive and insulting. It's one thing to behave badly when you're in a celebratory mood, it's another thing to make every occasion uncomfortable and nasty. Hanging out with these ladies for an evening would be about as much fun as reuniting with your high school enemies for a weekend. In fact, these are the kind of people who still can't can't get over high school; they're slaves to the the baggage of their formative years. We're all shaped in a meaningful way during that time, but we don't have to keep talking about it, do we?
BACHELORETTE's characters aren't likable enough to make us care about what ultimately happens to them, but the actresses are at least up to the challenge of making them authentic, warts and all. Dunst (who, with this and MELANCHOLIA, should just steer clear of weddings) is not only utterly convincing playing a character who has a yardstick up her butt, but as someone who is rather broken inside. Caplan can play "cynical bitch" in her sleep by now, but she can play sweet as well as she can play sour, so it's impossible not to feel a twinge of affection for her. It's Fisher who ends up getting the most genuine laughs, as her clueless character sticks her foot in her mouth countless times. And Rebel Wilson, while not in the film all that much, shows once more that she's an unorthodox but compelling screen presence, although she mostly just receives our sympathy because she takes the brunt of the mean girl jokes. (Boy, with this and BRIDESMAIDS, we're lucky the poor girl even wants to continue acting, so willing is she to be the object of both visual and verbal abuse.)
What's most disappointing about BACHELORETTE is that, in the end, it wants to have its cake and eat it too. It shows us the three leads' whining reactions to their friend's happiness, yet in the finale tries to wipe the slate clean when it turns out, aw shucks, they really think she deserves it. Nevermind that they've done nothing over the course of the movie to convince us - or themselves - that they can change for the better. I'd give Headland kudos for playing it real - these women are shallow at the beginning and they're shallow at the end - but she attempts to conclude on a joyous note; everybody hugs it out and all is well. It doesn't ring true. It would be more honest if it ended with the three ladies' flipping the bride the bird one last time before storming off to another bar.