The Sundance Review Revue: BACHELORETTE
Timing is everything. It doesn’t seem to matter much that BACHELORETTE was first staged as an Off-Brodway play back in 2010. Every — and I mean every — review of BACHELORETTE compares it to BRIDESMAIDS, last year’s runaway smash hit (and now Oscar-nominated smash hit) about the wacky misadventures of a crazed bridal party. When you hear what it’s about — the wacky (and kinda druggy) misadventures of a crazed (and kinda mean) bridal party — the comparison makes sense. But that doesn’t necessarily make it any more fair.
I suspect the BRIDESMAIDS link is to blame for a fair percentage of the negative reviews of the film out of Sundance, many of which read, basically, “It’s not BRIDESMAIDS.” Sean Means from The Salt Lake Tribune writes that “[writer/director Leslye] Headland’s script will draw inevitable comparisons to the Oscar-nominated BRIDESMAIDS, but the key difference is that the characters here (except for [Rebel] Wilson’s Becky) are uniformly nasty and unlikeable. Even so, the comic performances, especially by Fisher and Wilson, generate plenty of laughs before things turn really dark.” He also lays out the plot in non-BRIDESMAIDS terms: Wilson plays the first member of a high-school clique to get married. The rest of the group — Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan, and Isla Fisher — go out the night before the wedding to celebrate, where dark laughs ensue.
“It’s like the MEAN GIRLS got older and no wiser,” said Vulture‘s Kyle Buchanan, comparing BACHELORETTE to yet another female-centric comedy (don’t worry; he dropped plenty of BRIDESMAIDS references too). “The women mock anyone who isn’t thin, pretty, and white, and two of their main love interests — James Marsden and Adam Scott — are proud assholes, too.” Buchanan loved the film’s edge, but was disappointed when those edges softened during the third act. “Though it initially pushes into far nastier territory than BAD TEACHER and YOUNG ADULT,” he wrote, “it also pulls its heroines back at the last minute, giving them each a Sympathetic Backstory (bulimia, depression, abortion) that they can only work through after another character sits them down and monologues at them that They’re Better Than This. You may be in danger of whiplash.”
David Fear from Time Out New York went to great lengths not to mention BRIDESMAIDS by name in his review (though he certainly brings it up in some clever ways), and took less issue with BACHELORETTE’s place in the world of female-driven comedies than its lack of a compelling narrative. “Anyone thinking this is all just an excuse for showing off the trio’s crack comedic talents (no one currently does ditzy better than Fisher) would be correct,” he wrote, adding that “the actors are also the only things that keep BACHLORETTE from totally sinking TITANIC-style under its own backpatting, as the filmmaker seems to be congratulating herself on successfully mining the shock value of seeing pretty women speaking like sailors. Yes, everything goes better with profanity, but you’ve gotta bring something else to the party.”
With that in fucking mind, I feel like it would be nice to get a woman’s perspective on this. Kate Erbland reviewed the film for Film School Rejects; did she like it more than these other guys? In a word: no. Describing it as “toxic, crude, rude, mean, poorly structured,” and “free of character development,” she says it “reaffirms stereotypes about women (they are bitches! They are sluts! They are emotionally unstable!) and their relationships (they secretly all hate each other!) that should have disappeared from cinema (and the world) long ago.” First line of her review? “BACHELORETTE is not BRIDESMAIDS.”
‘Nuff said. Let’s check Twitter and try to find at least a couple tweets that don’t mention you-know-what. Not an easy task.
“BACHELORETTE was malicious fun. Like the Young Adult version of BRIDESMAIDS. The cast is flawless, perfectly-matched. #Sundance” — Katie Calautti, Moviefone
“BACHELORETTE (2012, Headland, ***1/2) Kirsten Dunst should only be in movies about fucked-up weddings. Also, Best Nickname Ever: “Cuntgina.”” — Sean M. Burns, The Improper Bostonian
“BACHELORETTE -as raunchy as BRIDESMAIDS but meaner. Some good nasty laughs before it sputters out, and God bless Isla Fisher #Sundance” — Ty Burr, Boston Globe
“Isla Fisher is the standout in BACHELORETTE. That woman is fearless. Cohen’s a lucky man.#sundance” — Nigel M. Smith, Indiewire
“BACHELORETTE is the movie you feared BRIDESMAIDS would be. Has a few laughs and will sell due to the big stars. #Sundance” — Peter Sciretta, /Film
To find more Sundance screenings of BACHELORETTE, go to Sundance.org.