Recently Regan (Kirsten Dunst) was having lunch with her friend Becky (Rebel Wilson) who she had known since high school when she got a surprise that she had to tell their two other friends, Katie (Isla Fisher) and Gena (Lizzy Caplan), about as quickly as possible. It's something of a bombshell, considering Regan felt there was an unspoken agreement that she would do this first, but what has shocked her so much is that Becky is engaged to be married, and the other two are not quite sure what to think other than they will have to make plans for the wedding, including, they hope, a party...
Bachelorette was adapted by writer and director Leslye Headland from her play, which was seen by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay among others, and before she knew what was happening she was turning it into her big screen debut. Timing is everything in showbiz, or so we are told, as there was another hen night comedy being made just as this was in preparation, and that was the hit Bridesmaids, which kicked off a bunch of female-centric comedies as if the studios had realised the template romcoms they had been churning out needed a shake up, so Headland's work here was viewed as very much following in its footsteps.
Which was a good thing - the same Bridemaids audience could check this out - and a bad thing - after all, whoever had seen both were inevitably going to compare them, and they might decide they liked the Judd Apatow juggernaut better. But if it was possible to forget about all that you might appreciate Bachelorette better, for it was not a string of gross out gags with the novelty of ladies acting them out, as there was a serious point to be made about how the ideals of society can many times fall short of what the reality is. Certainly we're taught to expect a wedding to be a happily ever after situation, but the three main characters here - four if you count the less well seen Becky, should be sceptical.
Not that this wasn't aiming for a happy ending, but the script ensured that was hard won when the central trio had to overcome their personality flaws to even get halfway to some kind of contentment. Those flaws were where the comedy arose, as on the night before the wedding Regan, Katie and Gena manage to tear Becky's dress for the big day when they were horsing around with it in lieu of an actual hen night - the betrothed decided to have an early night, much to the three women's disgust. But the men are keen to have their stag do as well, or four of them are at any rate, and they are destined to meet which makes things difficuilt for Gena when one of them is her old boyfriend Clyde (Adam Scott, Caplan's old Party Down colleague nicely enough).
In fact, all three of the leads have their issues with the past to wrestle with this evening as they ostensibly try to get the dress fixed (Katie's cocaine nosebleed not helping) but actually go on a long dark night of the soul, only with jokes. You could call them unlikeable, and there were moments, probably a few too many for most, where they behaved pretty poorly, yet by the end you can understand it was that lack of confidence in themselves bred from a general modern malaise about what they should really be doing to achieve personal happiness which led them down such ill-advised paths. Regan was a control freak because there was so much she could control (Dunst was hard as nalls in her role), Katie plays the dizzy redhead party animal because she thinks it's the only way to get on with people when she actually needs more serious care, and Gena cannot get over Clyde since deep down she acknowledges he was "the one" only she was not ready to get so serious with him so quickly. There's a sense of watching the cast juggling the gear changes here, but not bad in its eighties-nineties comedy nostalgia.