Bachelorette is the latest film to capitalize on the resurgence of the bachelor party movie genre, mostly thanks to The Hangover films. The genre has been popular since Tom Hanks first appeared in Bachelor Party, and since, the genre has only been added to with varying results. This is the first all-female bachelorette party film that I can think of, and it’s written and directed by a woman, Leslye Headland, a staff writer on the short-lived, but brilliant FX show Terriers.
This is Headland’s first foray into the world of feature films, but she has Adam McKay and Will Ferrell producing the film, formidable comedy back-up if anyone gets worried. The film focuses on three girls, the “B-Faces” (as they were called in high school) who must come together to serve as bridesmaids for the wedding of their friend, Becky (Rebel Wilson). The problem is, the three girls, Jenna (Lizzy Caplan), Katie (Isla Fischer), and Regan (Kirsten Dunst) aren’t really that good of friends to poor Becky, who was mocked in high school, so her delight is marked by the snarky cynicism of her bitchy friends.
As they are thrust into the world they thought they left long behind, they run into past loves like Clyde (Adam Scott), douche bags they thought they would never have to see again, like Trevor (James Marsden, who seems to be making a minor career playing the douchey playboy), and the ultimate loser, Joe (Kyle Bornheimer who steals the male side of the movie) as well as all the parents and high school pettiness they had hoped to leave behind.
Instead, they do what they always do: Katie gets so drunk she can’t think, Regan has a heart attack over every minor detail, and Jenna does whatever she likes whenever she likes. With each girl caught in her neurotic self-obsession, they each forget why they are there in the first place, and end up ruining a few things essential to the wedding, like the dress. This is where the similarities to The Hangover movies come in, as they scramble to do what they can to fix what they’ve destroyed. There are a few generic story beats at this point, I won’t point them out, but if you’ve seen a “crazy party-fueled night” movie, you’ve probably seen a few of these tropes before.
Still, the lack of originality in the screw ups by the characters is overshadowed by smart writing that will keep you laughing, enough raunch to live up to the genre expectations, and a real connection between the characters that saves it from feeling like just another disjointed party movie. The characters are easy to care about and get along with, and for Party Down fans, this is a reunion for Lizzy Caplan and Adam Scott as an on-screen couple.
In the end, the movie is entertaining, and the laughs work more often than they don’t. The cast makes it more enjoyable than it should be, and while it’s funny, it’s not quite the level of humor you would expect from most Ferrell/McKay productions. It’s smarter than most will expect it to be, and for those just looking for a lighthearted comedy about a group of girls having fun at their friends’ wedding, it is good enough to spend a few dollars on for an on-demand rental. Bachelorette opens in limited theaters September 7th, until then you can find it on all major VOD /outlets.