Weddings gone wild

All dressed in spite … (from left) Lizzy Caplan's Gena is a stoner.
All dressed in spite … (from left) Lizzy Caplan's Gena is a stoner.

'Since a movie called Bridesmaids came out,'' comedienne Lizzy Caplan says, ''everyone has remembered that women can be funny in movies, instead of being the boring one who is always yelling at the funny boyfriend.'' Yes, she's talking about you, Todd ''The Hangover'' Phillips. And you too, Farrelly brothers. Even about you, Judd Apatow, because even if you did end up producing Bridesmaids, all hail to you, you still gave Katherine Heigl all the duff lines in Knocked Up.

Caplan is at the Locarno Film Festival to talk about Bachelorette, in which she stars alongside the luminous Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher and Rebel Wilson - a high count of Australians there - as a quartet of old school friends reunited for the wedding of their least likely bride, the inescapably tubby Becky (Wilson). People who haven't seen it are calling it Bridesmaids 2. In fact, the director, Leslye Headland, wrote it five years ago as an adaptation of her hit play, also called Bachelorette, which was part of a series she is writing about the seven deadly sins.

Bachelorette's central sin is gluttony. ''I think specifically my experience as an American woman is that we are encouraged to fall in the trap of being consumers in every sense - food and fashion and looking thin and having the right stuff, having a career, all of that - and a man can be part of that,'' Headland says.

Not that the man is the focus of acquisitiveness in this story. The wedding is the thing. More particularly, the wedding dress, which gets ripped to pieces and covered in blood, vomit and semen in the course of a hen's night that, you will have guessed, goes very wrong.

Headland is loud, brash and outspoken. So, unsurprisingly, is Bachelorette. Headland says that when she tried to interest producers in her script four years ago, ''They said women talk like this but women won't pay to see this. That is literally what was said. And I just felt that wasn't true.''

Women's responses have shown her hunch was right. ''I thought it was very satirical, but there were many women who said, 'Yes, that's my life, it's a documentary.' And you went, 'Oh no! No!'''

Everyone in Bachelorette, led by Dunst's alpha control freak Regan, cats about each other. Wilson's fat bride is the one character who seems happy in her skin.

Headland says she was questioned for casting Wilson, given that she had already been in Bridesmaids, the film to which theirs was inevitably going to be compared. ''But she's a genius, you know,'' Headland says. ''And her character is so incredibly different. She's beautiful in this film; we're not laughing at her. To show that versatility was something I felt really strongly about.''

Caplan had been in Mean Girls (2004), the high-school comedy scripted by Tina Fey. Again, the tiny number of comedies by women means comparisons are inevitable. ''There are some Mean Girls attitudes happening here,'' Caplan agrees, ''but it's far more pathetic because we are no longer in high school and we are still talking about each other as if we were.''

Her character Gena is an unreconstructed stoner. ''You go, 'Oh, this one does a shitload of drugs', so you know she's damaged and her life isn't so together,'' Caplan says. ''And I love playing characters like that. I think playing a character who had everything in order would be sort of boring.''

Bachelorette has drawn every kind of reaction from American audiences, from rapture at The New York Times to fury from critics who can't get past the fact that they don't like any of the characters. Headland is happy people are arguing about it.

She refers to Billy Wilder's The Apartment, which was also criticised for switches between comedy and darkness. ''And he had this great quote, which was that The Apartment was about life not as it ought to be, but as life is,'' she says. Writing Bachelorette, she felt the same. ''I just wanted it to be very honest.''

Their worst hens' night experiences

Rebel Wilson ''The craziest hen's night I've been on was a Sydney Harbour boat cruise and it was one of those ones where you can't get off. The only people who were there were drunk women and male strippers and some chick threw a full beer can at my head.''

Kirsten Dunst ''I wouldn't do the Vegas thing because I think when you get to a certain age, it sounds really exhausting, right?''

Lizzy Caplan ''I think, generally speaking, that women are raunchier and grosser than boys, but you just haven't gotten to see it in too many movies yet.''

Isla Fisher ''Because of the fact it's my dear mother, I will refrain from telling this anecdote but I will say that it's never a good idea to get a stripper for your mother's bachelorette party.''


GENRE Foul-mouthed comedy for girls.

CRITICAL BUZZ ''A smart, chainsaw-edge comedy about friendship and partying past your prime''? Or ''a snotty, unfunny mess''? The New York Times critic offers both options, then comes down hard in favour; others, especially online commenters, don't like that they don't like any of the characters.

STARS Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher, Rebel Wilson and Lizzy Caplan.

DIRECTOR Leslye Headland

RELEASE Thursday.

This story Weddings gone wild first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.