The opening ten minutes of this film are so utterly dire that I began to feel like I was in for a long 90 minutes.
Instead, this comedy caterpillar (or should that be centipede, if you’ve seen it already) blossoms into one of the funniest and downright wrong comedies in years.
Taking the template for The Hangover, and applying the maxim that anything guys can do, girls can do better, writer and director Lucia Aniello casts 5 genuinely likeable female leads to riff off one another as the film opens with the gal-pal gang celebrating their college graduation in 2006.
Ten years on they gather in Miami for a Bachelorette party in honour of Jess (Scarlett Johansson) a budding politician behind in the polls because she “looks like she wouldn’t put out” while her opponent is gaining favour as he posts a steady stream of dick picks.
Her fiancé Peter (Co-Writer Paul W. Downs) has takeaway food waiting for Jess at the end of a long day, and as they start to become intimate, Jess confesses she has 5 work things that need to take priority. His response is perhaps the first genuine laugh out loud moment in the film.
A line of dialogue that reflects exactly what men want to say, without ever being likely to say it.
From this humble, rather beige beginning, big things grow.
Jess, the ringleader has been so focused on her career that the mates have hardly seen one another.
Alice (Eastbound & Down’s Jillian Bell) is clingy and seems to have pushed hardest for this college reunion and is fiercely jealous when Jess’s Aussie study buddy Pippa (Saturday Night Live’s Kate McKinnon) rocks up direct from a long flight.
In my current post Rough Night state of euphoria, I would be happy to watch endless clips of Kate McKinnon doing her thing on YouTube.
Zoë Kravitz (Blair) nails her role as ex-lesbian power businesswoman currently in a custody battle with her husband as does her college era ex girlfriend Frankie (Broad City’s Ilana Glazer) now a militant activist.
They may seem like stereotypical comedy characters, but in the hands of these dependable performers, they actually feel surprisingly real.
McKinnon’s priceless hybrid ANZAC accent and her “wannabe singer/songwriter” ambitions are a standout. Stick around through the credits for some bonus scenes.
To liven up the proceedings, the girls engage in some of the local party powder on offer and before long have stormed the stage of a packed nightclub to act out the retro hit Lick.
When they return to their rented beachside pad (complete with delicious creepy and super frisky neighbours Ty Burrell and Demi Moore in a top notch pairing) to continue the festivities, a stripper is ordered, then some pizzas and the ladies look like ticking all the right boxes for a classic bachelorette send off.
When a male stripper arrives and things go seriously south, the film manages to both increase in laugh out loud comedy while also pausing to deliver nuanced points about the nature of early adulthood relationships and what those shared memories and bonds mean to people as they mature and their lives take different paths.
In the background, Jess’s groom to be is holding his own soiree – a wine tasting with his perfectly styled modern male mates.
When his phone call to a distressed Jess ends with a dial tone in his ear, he begins to imagine all sorts of scenarios and his mates concoct a plan – the sad astronaut – to make things right.
Somehow this story succeeds in getting progressively more ridiculous while also somehow clinging to a thread of reality.
The climax is timed to perfection, and the credits themselves are a joy to watch, with key characters portrayed in neon lights, before two more scenes deliver more laughs and a plot reveal.
This is a rare case of a film living up the hype, and if you don’t find this laugh out loud funny the whole way through, I am sorry but I don’t think we can be friends.
4 Stars – Genuinely Funny Champagne Comedy. Funny as F#%K.