Two Comedies from eOne Films
Bachelorette (August 10/13)
Written and directed by Leslye Headland, Bachelorette follows three friends (Kirsten Dunst's Regan, Lizzy Caplan's Gena, and Isla Fisher's Katie) as they agree to act as bridesmaids for Rebel Wilson's Becky - with the movie detailing the wild shenanigans that transpire in the evening/night before the wedding. It's a rather standard premise that is, at the outset, employed to nigh disastrous effect by Headland, as the filmmaker devotes much of the movie's first half to endless sequences that are, by and large, utterly devoid of laughs. There's a desperation inherent in many sequences that proves impossible to overlook, with the efforts of the talented cast, which also includes James Marsden, Adam Scott, and Kyle Bornheimer, initially rendered moot as a result. It's just as clear, however, that Bachelorette does improve substantially once the central characters are separated, as elements of a distinctly heartfelt and down-to-earth nature are emphasized to an increasingly prominent degree. (There is, for example, an unexpectedly sweet subplot detailing the growing bond between two former lovers.) Headland's reluctance to dwell on such low-key moments ultimately cements Bachelorette's place as a second-rate Bridesmaids knockoff, as the film is, lamentably, teeming with raunchy interludes that are simply not funny in the slightest - with the film's relatively watchable atmosphere due mostly to the aforementioned inclusion of dramatic elements (ie the comedic stuff just doesn't work at all).
The To Do List
Set in the early 1990s, The To Do List follows a studious high schooler (Aubrey Plaza's Brandy Klark) as she endeavors to complete a list of various sexual acts before starting college. There's little doubt that The To Do List fares best in its early stages, as writer/director Maggie Carey has infused the proceedings with a brisk, compulsively watchable feel that proves impossible to resist - with the film's affable atmosphere heightened by its impressively frank attitude towards sex. It is, as such, relatively easy to overlook Plaza's standoffish performance and the curious lack of laughs, although the movie's half-baked nature does become more and more difficult to accept as time progresses. (Exacerbating this feeling is Carey's continuing emphasis on needless subplots, including a prank war between rival swimming pools.) Carey's increasing reliance on cookie-cutter elements - eg Brandy learns a series of lessons and the importance of friendship - only compounds the movie's growing atmosphere of irrelevance, and there's little doubt that The To Do List peters out to a lamentable degree in its padded-out final half hour. It's a shame, really, as the film does possess a number of positive attributes, with, in particular, the strong supporting cast, which includes Bill Hader, Andy Samberg, and Donald Glover, injecting the movie with all-too-sporadic instances of comedic energy. (The less said about Plaza's miscast turn as the protagonist the better.)