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January 24, 2012

"Bachelorette" Premieres at Sundance, Draws Inevitable Comparisons
by Liz McKeon - 0

By WICF Editor Liz McKeon

Writer-Director Leslye Headland's movie based on her off-Broaday play premiered last night in Park City, and the comparisons are blowing up my inbox this morning: "Is Bachelorette a Bridesmaids rip-off? No? OK, then, will the general viewing public see it that way?" ... and so on, and so on, ad nauseam.

To be honest, I expected the next female-driven ensemble comedy to get the Bridesmaids comparison, because the movie-going audience has been trained to view comedies featuring women — hell, even all movies featuring women  as niche entries, and not as showcases for silver screen-representatives of roughly half the population. I just didn't expect the next big movie to be a movie about bridesmaids. Makes my job standing on this soapbox a little bit harder. 
Photo from

I'll stand up here anyway, though. If a comedy can't cover the ground around what is purported to be one of life's seminal events without being called a copy, well, what I have to say is that weddings have been covered in film before, and they'll be covered again. As The New York Times reports, Headland told the Sundance press, “I admit that I am a little concerned about expectations ... My movie is nasty, dark, complicated and a little bizarre. If people come in expecting Bridesmaids they may have a heart attack. Or they might hate it and leave.”

Reuters makes their peace with the film by invoking the name of the great master of generationally iconic, yet in-hindsight-remarkably-un-P.C. '80s odes to the Baby Boomers, John Hughes. “I was mad our generation didn’t have an iconic movie, so I decided to make one,” [Headland] said at the Eccles Theater, wearing a studded black dress that could have walked out of the 1980s. “I wanted to make a movie for us, about people like us. Isla is really just a drunk Molly Ringwald."

After reading the initial responses from the press, I'm struck by the thought that they're doing exactly what I'm doing, just for a less women-centered audience. They're trying to head off the comparisons before those critiques can really take root. Comedies by and about women should be presented as comedies first, and, hopefully, we're getting to that place. In the end, I think the quote The L.A. Times' movie blog "24 Frames" says it best, "The director told 24 Frames before the festival she didn't mind the comparison as much as you might think: "I look at it a little like Bonnie & Clyde in 1967," she said. "You have a movie that gets everyone's attention and all these comparisons are drawn, and they're not always right. But then it's like, 'Thank God, let's make more movies like that.'"

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