“Bachelorette,” which co-stars Lizzy Caplan and Isla Fisher, had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival this year. Would Ms. Headland have preferred universally gushy reviews? Probably. “Bachelorette” is her baby. But is this first-time director also at ease with the acutely mixed reception it did receive? Totally.
“The point is to start a discussion, not solve a problem,” Ms. Headland, 31, said over lunch. “Look at ‘Virgin Suicides.’ Look at ‘Fight Club.’ You don’t think back on those movies and think, ‘Aww, everyone just loved and adored them.’ There were people who absolutely hated those movies. And that’s fine because it means they challenged the audience.”
She added, “I wanted to make a comedy that was really confrontational right out of the gate, which is going to make some people uncomfortable.”
As is often the case with Sundance movies, she has also had the chance to make changes, including re-editing, and fleshing out the characters.
The frustration, Ms. Headland said, hacking into a fried green tomato, involves the manner in which cultural discourse is increasingly boiled down to sharp blacks and whites. RottenTomatoes.com, the review aggregation site, declares movies “fresh” or “rotten,” with no middle ground and sometimes only a critic or two making the difference. A growing number of moviegoers skip professional reviewers altogether in favor of their Twitter feeds, where nuance is next to impossible.
Well, let's first consider the elements of Bachelorette, because it may not be a cut and dry case. Bachelorette does have a bit of a leg up. The film follows of the vastly quieted steam from the success of Bridesmaids, following a group of ragtag (and hopefully hilarious) bridesmaids to their best friend's wedding and watching them encounter mountains of trouble along the way — these mountains just happen to be laced with cocaine and problems a bit more dire than food poisoning at a bridal shop. The film even borrows from the Kristen-Wiig-approved actor pool, pulling in her Bridesmaids co-star Rebel Wilson and her Friends With Kids co-star Adam Scott. And if those buzzy names weren't enough, standby funny lady Lizzy Caplan stars alongside Isla Fisher, Kirsten Dunst, and charmer James Marsden.
The problem is that the action is so hairy, our Bachelorettes are potentially difficult to side with. But perhaps this apparently successful soft launch will help put audiences in the right mindset to enjoy the movie for what it purports to be: a giant, comedic romp leading up to a (probably) ruined wedding. Wilson's character may be headed for a disaster of a special day, but Bachelorette might finally be on the right track.
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