Pop culture essays, criticism, fistfights

The Instant Movie Club: Bachelorette

Every week, your friends at Culture Blues get together to watch a movie from their Netflix Instant queue. Then, they answer a series of discussion questions over mimosas and brunch. This is The Instant Movie Club.

This week we’re watching Bachelorette. Will Ferrell and Adam McKay try to cash in on the "suddenly women are funny" fad with this Bridesmaids-style comedy starring Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Lizzy Caplan and Rebel Wilson. Oh, and Cyclops.

Lady douches.

Lady douches.

How long was it before you gave up on Bachelorette?

Jeremiah White:  Exactly 30 laugh-deprived minutes. Once the “fix the wedding dress” plot is introduced, I tapped out. I just couldn’t see an injection of sitcom-ready hijinks improving matters. From what I saw of the next hour over the top of my laptop screen, I’m perfectly happy with my decision. In under 90 minutes, Bachelorette insists on exploring a traumatic backstory and uplifting emotional arc for not only the bachelorettes, but for the groomsmen as well, while scattering them all over New York City in a frantic plot that often left me confused as to who was doing what and why (admittedly, I wasn’t paying much attention). That’s a lot of sympathy to ask of the audience for a movie that tries to turn “fuck everyone” into a self-empowerment mantra. BTW did I miss the explanation for why Adam Scott is a groomsman? He went to high school with the “B-Faces” and dated Lizzy Caplan; how does that get him in a wedding between Rebel Wilson and someone I gathered she didn’t meet until later in life?

Jeff Hart:  I’m not too worried about how Adam Scott earned his groomsmen position – even though with the amount of expository shared history we’re privy to throughout this film, you’d think we would know – I’m more disappointed writer/director Leslye Headland didn’t work in a Ben Folds Five “Brick” reference for him. She covered every other 90s touchstone, so why not that? I stuck with Bachelorette way longer than you did. In fact, the ruined-wedding-dress slapstick didn’t throw me because, at that point at least, I thought the film was still being way dark and maybe a little satirical. I still think Bachelorette tries to subvert its genre by pushing its three leads way over the likability line, even going as far as to sacrifice laughs for pure ugliness. I didn’t give up until the cliché third act redemption, when it seemed like the film wanted to mock the genre but also provide a mainstream happy ending. Those bitch-faces should’ve just ruined poor Rebel Wilson’s wedding.

Bachelorette features a wealth of recognizable names. Who fairs best? Worst?

Jeremiah White:  The cast ekes some laughs out of material that bored me, and there’s no one I would single out as dropping the ball. Kirsten Dunst suffers from being the centerpiece of this mess, and having the most inconsistent character. Caplan and Isla Fisher are self-involved, but Dunst is more outwardly malicious, until she turns into the hero. As for who does the best, Fisher’s strung-out dance moves right before the credits are probably my favorite thing about the whole movie.

Jeff Hart:  I think Caplan is the answer to both questions. Bachelorette is pretty light on laughs, preferring nasty cringe-comedy instead, so her lengthy monologue on blow jobs is pretty much as funny as it gets. However, I was really surprised that she and Adam Scott couldn’t rekindle any of that Party Down chemistry. Their abortion reunion scenes make the back half of Bachelorette a real slog. Now that I’m thinking about it, the insistence on giving each of the leads an After School Special affliction – abortion, bulimia, suicide – didn’t work for me. Only Fisher’s self-destructive angst came off as organic, so I guess she faired pretty well too.

 

 

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