Girls Behaving Badly for Fun and Profit

9 Sep

Why should guys have all the fun?

After years and years of watching men in movies like The Hangover do gross things and generally behaving badly, women are starting to step up to the plate and say, “Anything you can do, we can do too!” Which is why we now have movies like Bridesmaids at the multiplex, and actresses like Melissa McCarthy taking a dump in a bathroom sink on the big screen.

Good times.

Like with those guy-centric movies, the ones showing women behaving badly have been mixed. Some have definitely been better than others. And I suspect this will continue to be the case for some time.

Which brings us to the two most recent movies where female actresses get to show their less, well, demure side: For a Good Time, Call… and Bachelorette. Let’s look at them both, starting with the not-so-good one.

… Or Just Hang Up

For a Good Time, Call… is sort of like a randier big-screen version of the TV show Don’t Trust the B— in Apt. 23.

Lauren Miller and Ari Graynor play two polar-opposite roommates — one’s reserved, the other more free-spirited — who have hated each other since college, but who live together now because they can’t afford to live on their own. The girls bond when they start a phone-sex line that helps them pay the bills. (Oh, and they have a gay best friend played by Justin Long.)

Graynor is a gifted comic actress; I’ve enjoyed watching her in movies like Nick & Nora’s Infinite Playlist and Celeste and Jesse Forever. Here, she earns some decent laughs early on, but doesn’t get a lot of help from the screenplay after that. And Miller, well, she makes even less of an impression.

This is a movie that seems to have been made by people who laugh at their own jokes, and think they’re so cool and funny because they’re talking dirty, but are too reserved to really go all the way. The real joke here is why anyone in New York (or beyond) would call this sex line when what the girls talk about is so tame. That’s not amusing irony; it’s just lame.

For a Good Time, Call… is not nearly as funny or dirty as it thinks it is (and should have been). It’s funnier than Don’t Trust the B–, but it’s still a mediocre film that’s only slightly better than that sitcom.

Good to Go

Then there’s Bachelorette, which tells the story of three high-school friends, Regan, Gena, and Katie (Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan, and Isla Fisher), who come together for the wedding of Becky (the suddenly ubiquitous Rebel Wilson), a “friend” they actually hated back in the day, and still do.

The night before the nuptials, during a bride-less and drug-fueled bachelorette party, the three bridesmaids manage to tear Becky’s wedding dress. So even though they’re high on cocaine (and self-loathing), they head out to try and fix it. Suffice it to say, things spiral even more out of control from there.

Think Mean Girls + Bridesmaids + The Hangover — except much, much funnier. So much funnier.

How good is this movie? I actually really liked Dunst in it. She plays the type-A faux-BFF of the bride who hates that the person she and her friends called Pig Face back in school is getting married before she is. Regan has an extreme amount of contempt and resentfulness that’s beyond mere jealousy. She tries to keep everything together while sticking a knife in whenever she can. Regan’s a total bitch and Dunst is hysterical in the role. Bravo.

The other two women are equally good: Caplan, as the bitter friend who still isn’t over her high school boyfriend, gives the film plenty of edge. And Fisher gets her best role since Wedding Crashers, as the perpetually high and insecure party girl. It takes great, underrated skill to play someone this spectacularly stupid, and Fisher’s performance is dead-on perfect. (She also looks great.)

There are some gross-out gags (a cocktail of bodily fluids finds their way onto that dress), and some slapsticky comedy, but this is a film that’s much smarter than it appears to be.

Much credit and love goes to director Leslye Headland, who based the screenplay on her Off-Broadway play. She gets right to the heartless heart of women’s intense rivalries when it comes to marriage, and provides laughs that are both plot- and character-based. Even better, she’s made a sharp movie that can be appreciated by members of both genders.

Bachelorette is perfectly paced and exactly as long as it should be, and even though the tone is dark and it’s about a trio of completely unlikable characters, it keeps you smiling from start to finish.

I don’t want to ruin any of the pleasure of seeing this movie, so I’ll just say Bachelorette is, well, G2G (good to go). I haven’t laughed this much at a movie in a very long time (yes, that includes Ted).

Bottom Line

Not every guy-centric gross-out movie is good. Likewise, this latest duo of dirty movies with women at the center is a mixed bag. For a Good Time, Call… gets a C+. Bachelorette gets an A–. Definitely see the latter, either in theaters or On Demand.


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3 Responses to “Girls Behaving Badly for Fun and Profit”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Organized Nerd Singing « Martin's Musings - September 28, 2012

    [...] cringe-worthy moments, but it also has its charms. Among them is the performance of Rebel Wilson (Bachelorette, Bridesmaids), who plays a saucy character named Fat Amy. She’d be self-deprecating if she [...]

  2. 2012 Was a Masterful Year for the Movies « Martin's Musings - December 21, 2012

    [...] Bachelorette A biting, pitch-perfect, darker-than-black comedy about women’s intense rivalries when it comes [...]

  3. Should You Take Your Mama Out to See These Movies? « Martin's Musings - December 23, 2012

    [...] Parental Guidance, I started to wonder why Midler hadn’t yet made a movie with Ari Graynor (For a Good Time, Call…). And then Graynor popped up in a brief cameo in The Guilt Trip, making these films even more [...]

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