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'Bachelorette' review: Stop rolling your eyes--it's funnier than 'Bridesmaids'

***1/2 (out of four)

Pretend for a moment that “Bridesmaids” never existed. You’d totally go for a hilarious comedy about bridesmaids, right?

OK, now remember that “Bridesmaids” existed. Guess what: “Bachelorette” is funnier. The new movie, based on writer-director Leslye Headland’s play written well before the Kristen Wiig flick became one of 2011’s big stories, may lose some originality points but easily compensates with laughs. So many laughs.

I watched a stream of “Bachelorette” (which recently hit No. 1 on the iTunes on-demand chart, something that had never been done by a movie before it was released in theaters) at the office, and I’m shocked no one around me asked what I was watching. I don’t normally sit at my desk and just randomly crack up every 30 seconds.

If we’re going by their high school names, “Bachelorette” tells the story of Bitch Face (Kirsten Dunst), Twat (Isla Fisher) and Slut (Lizzy Caplan), the maid of honor and two bridesmaids, respectively, for Pig Face (Rebel Wilson of, yes, “Bridesmaids”). The women, actually named Regan, Katie, Gena and Becky, may not want people to call them by their nicknames anymore. Yet as Regan, Katie and Gena accidentally destroy Becky’s wedding dress during a stunt that shows how much they’ve enjoyed feeling superior to their overweight friend all these years, “Bachelorette” touches on lingering insecurities and the familiar but still-ripe notion of feeling resentful toward friends and yourself.

That resentment is blame for a defiant adulthood that hasn’t turned out as happily as expected—though the ladies get things going to varying degrees with groomsmen played by James Marsden, Adam Scott and Kyle Bornheimer. The sharp-edged jokes help re-invigorate the concept of a movie about the wild night. Ultimately this one’s a story about the things we do to make ourselves feel better, even when we know they’re wrong.

Big message/relationship insights/yadda yadda. “Bachelorette,” which does over-rely on pop culture references, wouldn’t stick if it weren’t hilarious. (It’s also funnier than both “Hangover” movies combined, by the way.) I could list dozens of fantastic lines, often shot like poison darts, but that would deplete the spark that comes from a script this quick and unexpected.

“I just realized that the guy I slept with sucks,” mutters Gena, Caplan’s dryness perfectly timed to Gena putting on the guy’s Jack Johnson T-shirt. “I gotta take this; it’s work,” says Katie, explaining why she has to pick up the phone—despite the fact that she’s actually at work.

OK, just wanted to mention those, which of course better connect when delivered to perfection by the standouts of the phenomenal cast. The rest are yours to enjoy.
 

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Friday at 6:55 a.m. on WCIU, the U

mpais@tribune.com

 

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Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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