Bachelorette: Kirsten Dunst Out of Her Element

Although the play on which “Bachelorette” is based was running off-Broadway before “Bridesmaids” even started shooting, the new film inevitably recalls last year’s smash hit. Once again we have a group of 30-something female friends coming together for the wedding of one of their number and having all manner of zany and bracingly scabrous adventures. Here, stepping in for Kristen Wiig, is Kirsten Dunst, playing the levelheaded maid of honor, Regan. Frustrating her earnest efforts to organize the big event are adorable ditz Katie (Isla Fisher) and sleep-around sourball Gena (Lizzy Caplan). As Katie pulls out a stash of cocaine she’s brought along and Gena casts a hostile/horny eye on her old high-school boyfriend Clyde (Adam Scott), who’s also on hand for the nuptials, the bride-to-be, jovial, heavy-set Becky (Rebel Wilson) grows increasingly uneasy.

“What could go wrong?” is not a question that’s likely to occur to most viewers. Katie scandalizes the more strait-laced attendees by calling in a male stripper for a party. She and Regan jokingly stuff themselves into Becky’s plus-size wedding gown and, naturally, split it up the side. A frantic search for a replacement frock takes up the rest of the movie, with a side trip to a strip club to which the girls have followed Clyde and two other key guys — hunky Trevor (James Marsden) and shy Joe (Kyle Bornheimer) — on their way to treat the prospective groom, Dale (Hayes MacArthur), to one last wild night before the chains of matrimony snap into place.

A lot of this is very funny. Caplan has a great trash-mouth scene in an airplane, in which she regales the total stranger sitting next to her with the carefully graded levels of oral sex at which she’s proficient. And Fisher is a lovable airhead throughout. (“I think I might be stupid,” she gibbers at one point. “I don’t understand anything anyone says.”) So it’s too bad that Dunst is so miscast. She doesn’t have the screwball spirit for this sort of wild-style comedy, and she goes through the motions rather glumly (understandably in a street scene in which she’s encouraged to get down on all fours and lick the pavement). Some of the characters don’t come into focus, either. (What is it that has drawn chunky Becky and handsome Dale together?) And the steady accretion of vintage pop culture signifiers (the girls all hail from the high-school class of 1990) feels a little rote.

But first-time director Leslye Headland, who also wrote the script (and the original play), has given the film a sleek, sparkly look; and Fisher and (especially) Caplan bring a comic charge to each scene they’re in. If “Bachelorette” had come out before “Bridesmaids,” it might have seemed a fresher exercise. Now, unfortunately, no way.

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

[avatar user="cbriese" size="thumbnail" align="left"] Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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