Bachelorette is a kick-ass comedy about three female best friends since high school reunite the night before another friend’s wedding and wind up on a hunt to save the day when they accidentally destroy the bride’s dress. It premiered in 2012 and was written and directed by Leslye Headland (who also wrote Sleeping With Other People).
This movie is also the perfect way to start “broad” week. As you know, every week a theme will guide what I choose to break down beat-by-beat, with last week’s initial theme looking at science fiction (particularly with a heavy dose of world creation). This week’s theme is “broad” comedy, meaning comedies starring and created by women. We’ll continue tomorrow with the most obvious choice for contemporary TV, Broad City, and for Thursday’s Throwback we’ll finish off with one of the greatest female series of all time, Absolutely Fabulous. I cannot tell you how excited I am about this week!
Regan, Kirsten Dunst, Maid-of-Honor
Gena, Lizzy Caplan, Bridesmaid; never wears pants
Katie, Isla Fisher, Bridesmaid; love-ably slow-ish
Becky, Rebel Wilson, The Bride
Clyde, Adam Scott, Groomsman; Gena’s high school sweetheart
Joe, Kyle Bornheimer, Groomsman; the gang’s high school drug dealer
Trevor, James Marsden, Groomsman
NEED: Not be so hard on herself; judgmental
Why do we empathize? She goes above and beyond for her friends
NEED: Take responsibility
Why do we empathize? We all want to be her friend and she’s clearly gone through some rough shit
NEED: Not be so selfish
Why do we empathize? She’s adorable and oblivious so we just want her to figure it out
ALL THREE’S WANT: Fix the wedding dress and get it back before anyone notices.
In the case of this movie, all three women are their own and each other’s inner and personal antagonists. Adulthood is the extrapersonal antagonist.
Set Up: The trio of girls learn that Becky is getting married and they are all in the wedding.
Action: The wedding weekend arrives and the girls fly in.
Climax: They make asses of themselves at the rehearsal dinner, mentioning that they met Becky while she was throwing up her lunch in the high school bathroom. Later they have a stripper arrive and he accidentally uses a cruel nickname towards Becky. She’s irate and cuts the night short.
INCITING INCIDENT / FIRST ACT DECISION
Set Up: Regan, Gena, and Katie snort cocaine and drink while reminiscing and wallowing in self-pity. Gena and Katie both climb into Becky’s wedding dress and rip it! Then discover Katie has a nosebleed and has gotten blood on the dress too!
Action: The ladies go in search of help at the hotel cleaners but they are unable to help with the sewing, only the cleaning.
Climax: The girls need to fix the dress and get it cleaned immediately.
Set Up: The ladies call up the dress designer in the middle of the night to meet them at the store.
Action: The designer is pissed. She opens the store and they go through the dresses. They do not have another of the same dress.
Climax: The only dress available just happens to be Regan’s dream gown and she refuses to see it on Becky and storms out.
Set Up:Katie remembers that she went to design school and knows how to sew. They just need supplies. The girls go to a drug store to find supplies to repair the dress. The guys text the girls to join them and they agree solely because Clyde will have access to a sewing machine.
Action: The girls go to the strip club. Joe gets stoned with Katie in the bathroom and tries to get her to like him while Trevor hits on Regan. Gena tries to clean garbage off the dress in the bathroom (though a stripper she talks to wipes herself off all over the dress).
Climax: When Gena sees how stoned Katie is she and Regan get into a huge fight. Gena can’t do it anymore, she wants to tell Becky what’s happening. Regan brings up Gena’s high school abortion and Gena storms off.
Resolution: Gena finds Clyde and they leave. Trevor insists on taking Regan home and Joe will go with Katie.
This is a sequence but with the three girls completely separate it’s hard to do a traditional breakdown.
- Gena and Clyde head to his mom’s house and get into a huge fight on the way about the abortion she had to go through seemingly without him.
- Regan has sex with Trevor after he completely trolls her.
FALSE CLIMAX / LOW POINT
- Becky calls Regan to her room and apologizes for the way she reacted earlier to the stripper.
- Katie tells Joe about her attempted suicide. He listens to her and cares for her and they kiss.
- Clyde still cares about Gena. They have sex.
- Joe won’t have sex with Katie when she’s drunk. She’s hurt and thinks he doesn’t like her.
PLOT PUSH / THIRD ACT DECISION
Set Up: Regan leaves Gena a message about the dress, she’s freaking out. To calm down she prepares to force herself to throw up. Becky catches her and gives her a pep talk.
Action: Regan is going to tell Becky when they are interrupted by Becky’s mom.
Climax: Regan doesn’t tell Becky. She heads right into planning mode to make the day perfect for Becky.
Set Up: Gena grabs the dress and heads out. Regan ignores the missing wedding dress. Katie is passed out in the bathroom.
Action: Joe tries to break down the door to Katie. Regan keeps calling Gena. Gena is having the dress dry cleaned. She works hard to keep Becky calm and happy. Joe gets into the room. Katie is passed out and Regan forces her to throw up to keep from dying.
Climax: Becky is freaking out about her dress while an ambulance is on the way for Katie. Everyone heads to the wedding site and Clyde tells Gena he wants to be with her. They all arrive and Becky gets in her dress and walks down the aisle while the three bridesmaids sit it out and watch from the back.
Resolution: Everyone enjoys themselves at the wedding reception.
Remember when Bridesmaids came out and all the advertisements came out saying it was “the female-Hangover“? I mean, on top of being really shitty way of advertising something it was also off. Bachelorette should have held this title and gotten way more attention than it got. It’s no longer on Netflix, so you should just do yourself and purchase it over online somewhere.
Now I’m not going to compare Bridesmaids and Bachelorette because while I have very loud opinions, we simply need more movies about dynamic women on screen and it’s even better if it’s a comedy. So instead I will quickly tell you why it is so similar to The Hangover.
First of all it is three protagonists. One’s a little crazy (Zack Galifianakis/Isla Fisher), one is running the show (Bradley Cooper/Kirsten Dunst), and one takes control of their life in the end (Ed Helms/Lizzy Caplan). It should be noted though that even with these basic roles how the characters appear on screen is vastly different. Both have a clear inciting incident that come with an immediate decision (find the groom/fix the dress), and both have shaky third act structures. The reason I say this last one is that a major tenant of screenwriting is that the first and third act decisions need to be different and in the case of both films they are exactly the same.
While that last one may sound like a negative it is actually not. I think I have said this before but if a comedy is making you laugh hard enough you won’t notice the shaky structure and so long as you feel the emotional arc in the end then the movie has fulfilled its two major promises. In the case of Bachelorette they dealt with abortions, bulimia, and over doses and never overwhelmed the viewer with the sadness. You feel for these girls and no matter how terrible they may appear, they have real relationships and you understand how these friendships have managed to last so long.
The best part of the film for me is that last twenty minutes where Regan is losing her shit trying to keep the truth of what has happened from Becky. Her actions may appear to be the same as they have been for the whole film, but her motivations are completely different. Becky confronted Regan when she was going to make herself throw up and you see how much these two girls genuinely care for each other. Her actions before were about making her look like the good friend. Now it’s all about making sure Becky has the most stress free day possible.
It should be noted that this film is also based on the writer’s stageplay which would effect the writing style and structure. That being said I haven’t read the stageplay it’s now on my to-read list. I may go hit that up now.