Photo: Universal Pictures
Starring Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Ellie Kemper and Wendi McLendon-Covey. Directed by Paul Feig. 125 minutes. 14A
Don't believe anything you've heard about Bridesmaids.
It's not hysterically funny. It's not a girl-powered revelation. And it's certainly not a female Hangover. It's just an occasionally witty, occasionally crude but mainly true-to-thirty-something-female-life film, which is more than you can say for most lady-centric flicks (okay, "chick flicks") released in the past ten years. (No, I'm not talking to you, Baby Mama.)
Although advertised as a straight-up comedy, Bridesmaids is really a dramedy. While Judd Apatow's (Knocked Up, Superbad etc.) name is often linked to this film, he's just a producer. The real director is Apatow's old friend Paul Feig, the creator of Freaks and Geeks. Like that still-perfect show, the laughs aren't bombastic and the tears aren't melodramatic. Everything is low-key and sudden, like it is in real life, and Feig embraces that like Lindsay Weir embraced her dad's army jacket (and Nick Andopolis for like, two episodes) before premature cancellation tore them apart.
Bridesmaids explores happens to BFFs when one of them promises someone else their forever, which as any former lady-in-waiting can attest, can be both heartwarming and shattering. Written by SNL superstar Kristen Wiig and her close friend Annie Mumulo, the film follows a charming but self-destructive woman named Annie (Wiig), who is hovering around rock bottom in nearly every part of her life. Having lost her bakery to bankruptcy, Annie works part-time at a jewelry store her mother's AA buddy owns. While she struggles to sell bargain engagement rings to strangers, she also struggles to sell herself (metaphorically, of course) to a non-douche, her only romantic prospect being a wide-eyed playboy (Jon Hamm) who only wants her when she's underneath him. Physically and emotionally.
When her long-time gal pal, Lillian (Wiig's real-life best friend and former SNL alum, Maya Rudolph), tells her she's getting married, Annie puts on a fake smile and happily accepts her role as maid of honour. But things start to unravel quicker than a toilet paper bridal gown when she meets Helen (Rose Byrne), Lillian's newest friend and final bridesmaid. With gorgeous hair, an endless bank account and too much time to plan parties with giant cookies, puppy party favours and Wilson Phillips, Helen is not only determined to take over Annie's position as maid of honour, but also the only role she has actually been able to fulfill in her life: best friend.
While their feud the driving force of much of Annie's story (which takes one too many turns and airplane scotches for the worse as the girls take on the traditional pre-wedding girlie galas), its not what really sticks, at least in a comedic sense.The biggest laughs come courtesy of the other members of the bridal party, particularly Melissa McCarthy (Mike and Molly, Gilmore Girls), who plays totally against type as the groom's brash and butch sister. The fact that she is obsessed with female fight clubs is not only hilarious, but also telling of her performance. In every scene, she comes in guns-a-blazing and knocks you out.
Wiig is just as impressive, both as a writer and actress. She leaves her over-the-top caricatures behind, and makes a well-rounded woman out of Annie. Although she has quite a few over-the-top moments, they all have their real-life reasons - emotional and or alcoholic. She's like a better-dressed (but equally pie-obsessed), Liz Lemon. You laugh with her. You laugh at her. And you almost cry because you realize you totally identify with her. And you could say the same about the film itself.
With the exception of one already-infamous gross-out gag, Bridesmaids is not the kind of movie that wants to be the centre of attention - the girl in the floofy dress and veil. It's the subtly gorgeous girl standing next to the princess-for-the-day. The one who did all the real work. The one who really takes the three-tier cake. A-
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