I know when people saw the preview for this movie, they instantly thought, “Those bitches are totally copying Bridesmaids!” I find that rather unfair considering that there are hundreds of movies about weddings and bridesmaids. You wouldn’t have said that Bachelorette was copying that awful 27 Dresses, would you? No, because they’re nothing alike beyond the fact that they both revolve around the idea of weddings and bridesmaids.
But any movie about weddings and bridesmaids that comes after Kristen Wiig’s Bridesmaids will be deemed “copying” because Bridesmaids was the movie where women suddenly became funny (…because they weren’t funny before?), and everyone is trying to replicate its success! I’m not saying Bridesmaids isn’t absolutely hysterical and one of the better female-driven comedies. In fact, I’m a HUGE Kristen Wiig fan, and Bridesmaids is one of my favorites. I’m just tired of people using it as an excuse for out-of-the-blue feminism and wedding movie originality.
Where Bachelorette differs from Bridesmaids is that Bridemaids captured the entire experience of being a bridesmaid—the invitation, meeting the other bridesmaids, finding the dresses, the engagement party, the bachelorette party, the rehearsal, the wedding, and the relationship between the bride and bridemaids. Bachelorette had some of those settings, but its main setting was focused more on the night before the wedding during the bachelorette party (hence the name) for all of its climatic shenanigans where it showcases the terrible people who happen to be bridesmaids. Now that we’ve got that little misunderstanding out of the way, let’s talk about Bachelorette…
Here’s how the movie’s official site describes the plot: “On the night before an old friend’s wedding, three frisky bridesmaids go searching for a little fun but find much more than they bargained for. With lovely Becky (Rebel Wilson) set to marry her handsome sweetheart, Dale (Hayes MacArthur), the remaining members of her high school clique reunite for one last bachelorette bacchanal in the Big Apple. Regan (Kirsten Dunst) is an overachieving, uber-Maid of Honor who’s secretly smarting over the fact that she’s not the first to marry, while Gena (Lizzy Caplan) is a whip-smart sarcastic who’s actually a closet romantic, and Katie (Isla Fisher) is a ditzy beauty who loves the good life. But when Becky insists on keeping the bachelorette party tame, the women proceed with an after-hours celebration of their own.”
Before I talk about why this specific theme of this movie is funny, let me first explain the idea of “girl shit.” What is girl shit? Well, do you remember how the girls in high school behaved? You know, the supposed loyalty to their own gender while they backstab, gossip, and insult their own gender (specifically their own friends) out of jealousy, a need for attention, or because they’re literally just terrible people? Yeah, that’s girl shit. And don’t confuse girl shit with a general dislike for people. Girl shit is manipulative and always acted out with an underlying motive. For example, if I were to say that I don’t like some woman because she annoys me, it’s just because she annoys me; but if that woman was actually one of my friends, and then I told all of our other friends that she’s a fat slut (even though she’s not) just because she annoys me personally, then that would be considered girl shit.
So what does this have to do with Bachelorette? Well, girl shit is the entire purpose of this movie’s plot. Hell, even the great casting of this movie helps define the girl shit. After all, when the bride is played by non-conventional beauty and funny girl Rebel Wilson, and the bridesmaids are played by typical Hollywood body-type actresses Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan, and Isla Fisher, you’ve got a great stage already for girl shit to happen. And to make it even better, the writer (who is a woman) set this girl shit in one of the most girl-shittiest settings possible—a wedding!
Rather than being supportive of their friend, Regan (Kirsten Dunst), Gena (Lizzy Caplan), and Katie (Isla Fisher) are too busy making fun of Becky (Rebel Wilson), bitching about their own lives, and constantly ruining Becky’s wedding by destroying her dress and making inappropriate comments about how fat and ugly Becky was in high school compared to themselves.
When you’re watching all of this mean-spirited comedy, you laugh because it is funny, but then at the same time, you reflect on how awful it is that you’re laughing at something so mean. The realism of the characters’ behaviors is what makes this movie so funny. The girl shit in this movie is not that different from the girl shit that we experience on a daily basis in our homes, in our offices, and with our friends. In fact, I think Bachelorette is a better social commentary of how most women behave with other women than Bridesmaids. Where Bridesmaids had the girl shit between Annie and Helen competing over who was the better friend to Lillian, Bachelorette has Regan, Gena, Katie, and Becky ALL girl shitting on each other constantly.
On a similar point, the story reminded me a lot of the movie Young Adult, which starred Charlize Theron as the former popular mean-girl from high school returning to her hometown to find out that she’s got nothing to ride on in life other than the fact that she used to be “cool” in high school. That’s exactly what Regan, Gena, and Katie are like in this movie. They’re nostalgic for their high school days when they were the prettiest, bitchiest girls in school, and they constantly bring it up during their time with Becky, who is clearly moving on in life while they’re stuck acting like they did in high school with their constant partying. It’s also a great social commentary on the desire to cling to childhood rather than move on into adulthood.
Now, for the bad stuff. Despite the fact that Rebel Wilson has a definite talent for comedy, she had the least amount of comedic lines in this movie, which I thought was disappointing. Why not unleash her abilities to make this movie better? I mean, hell, if it wasn’t for Rebel Wilson, I doubt Pitch Perfect would have done nearly as well as it did.
And then there’s the screenplay. Although the writer did a good job pegging the girl shit, she totally fell prey to one of the classic story mistakes—writing stereotypical characters. Regan was the controlling, neurotic blonde who had done “everything right in her life,” yet she was frustrated because she couldn’t hold on to a man because she was so uptight. Gena was the sarcastic, rebellious brunette who liked to sleep around and do drugs, but she was depressed because she was actually a hopeless romantic who had lost her high school sweetheart. And Katie was the ditzy, slutty redhead who worked in a fashion retail store and had maxed out all of her credit cards, but she was adorably sweet and naive, so everybody loved her. I mean, f***, the writer could’ve just written the goddamn Powerpuff Girls into this movie (with a minor hair switch between the blonde and redhead).
The ending was okay, but it wasn’t great. Why? Because it ended happily. Everyone stopped being so screwed up and learned their lessons about being good friends and fell in love at the reception and blah, blah, blah PUKE! Seriously?! The entire premise of the girl shit being a social commentary for how awful women are with each other was completely undone with the ending to this movie. I’m sorry, but how can you have such a strong point about how women need to stop being so ridiculously catty in the beginning and then falter at the end by wanting to please the audience with a happy endng? That’s not realistic, nor does it serve the purpose of the main argument in this movie. It would have left such a stronger impact had the movie ended with Regan, Gena, and Katie either getting some comeuppance for being terrible people or just not changing who they are at all. Do you know what I mean? That might sound boring, but I’m serious…it would have been better for the movie’s message.
Overall, Bachelorette is a mean-spirited comedy that allows for a serious discussion of female behavior during interaction with other females (*cough* girl shit). However, the movie sometimes relies too heavily on drug use, vomit, sex, and cruelty when its comedy would have been better in the hands of its only true comedian, Rebel Wilson, who was underutilized in a movie much too focused on three prettier women with lesser comedic chops. The screenwriter did well for the most part, making some good social commentary, yet she fell into the trap of stereotypical characters and happy endings. The movie is not funnier than Bridesmaids, but it is still worth watching for both the entertainment and the social commentary of “girl shit” culture.