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Saturday, May 14, 2011

‘Bridesmaids’ Showers You With The Funny


Bridesmaids:  4 out of 5
Megan:  My dress is so pretty it makes my stomach hurt.
Bridesmaids is a very funny movie.  It is not because it tries to make chick flicks “cool” by adding a raunchy side so guys can laugh too.  It is also not because I feel I need to support this film for the sake of making women feel appreciated.  That is all bogus.  This movie is simply very funny because it has a great cast of very funny people and it is well written and put together.  Kristen Wiig, who stars as well as co-wrote the film, does great work here.  Coming from the Judd Apatow school of comedy, which has also provided us with films such as Knocked Up and Superbad, this is a film that follows in that sort of trajectory, hitting big with some great signature moments, but also having plenty of little character moments, as well as the sentimental factor.  It is overlong, as these films tend to be, but it still makes for a lot of fun, given the amount of time it lets us spend with these characters and the way it handles this premise.


The film centers on Annie (Kristen Wiig), who has just learned that her best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph), is engaged to be married.  Annie accepts the role of maid of honor, and must now plan and prepare for that big day.  During this time, Annie starts to associate and befriend the other bridesmaids.  They include Helen (Rose Byrne), who is constantly trying to one-up everything Annie does, given that she is a rich socialite; innocent Becca (The Office’s Ellie Kemper); married and cynical Rita (Reno 911’s Wendi McLendon-Covey); and large and horny Megan (Melissa McCarthy).  As the film moves along, we find Annie dealing with not only the upcoming wedding and her responsibilities to her best friend, but with what life has dealt her thus far, which includes terrible roommates, a failed business, and a horrible sex-friend in the form of a hilariously mean Jon Hamm (Boom!).  Fortunately, Annie at least has the eye of a concerned police officer, Rhodes (Chris O’Dowd), on her, which may help her situation a bit.  Of course, the stress of planning events such as a wedding shower may lead to problems if Annie can’t get a grip on things or on Helen.


Melissa McCarthy’s work as the hefty Megan is going to garner a lot of praise, simply because she is this film’s secret weapon, akin to Seth Rogen in one of his earlier, supporting roles.  I enjoyed her a lot, as she managed to be very funny throughout.  However, this film is owned by Kristen Wiig.  After appearing in a number of supporting roles in underrated films like Adventureland, Whip It, and Walk Hard (that is a great set of movies by the way), let alone her popularity on Saturday Night Live, Wiig should truly breakout as a star here.  Her role is perfectly handled.  Annie is everything that a lead character in a film like this should be.  She is funny, smart, talented, but also flawed and in search of guidance in many ways.  Regardless of gender, the lead character in this film needs many qualities to make her likable and grounded, which is completely accomplished by Wiig in this film.


Then, in addition to Wiig’s great performance, the film tacks on tons of other funny elements.  This includes the rest of the cast.  I have already mentioned McCarthy, who is really funny, but the rest of the bridesmaids all have their moments as well.  While Kemper and McLendon-Covey are sort of pushed to the background the most, they get a few funny scenes.  Rose Byrne is the other main bridesmaid character who has lots to do, and she does everything to make a character hilariously grating.  Having been on the series Damages, only to delve into this sort of comedy in 2010’s Get Him to the Greek, it seems that Byrne has decided to stick around and play in this comedy world, and she does so pretty effectively.  One scene has her character, Helen, and Annie squaring off in a speech, seeing who can best compliment Lillian at her engagement party.  It is a hilarious back and forth sequence.  And Maya Rudolph, in the role of the bride to be, simply has a natural chemistry with Wiig that would be easily served in a comedy that just features them.


Really, the film is filled with a lot of great sequences, including one of the biggest gross out moments that has been in any comedy film like this.  It helps that the tone of this film is never mean spirited.  Characters may say mean things or make backhanded insults at each other, but this is not a film about kicking someone when they are down.  Despite being a movie, the universe that this film exists in provides characters that feel grounded.  That is the element that I tend to admire in these Judd Apatow produced comedies.  I find it unfortunate that much of the advertising for Bridesmaids does not come close to finding a way to show that aspect of the film, focusing more on the low brow humor, but I still hope that it finds enough of an audience.  Framing this as “the women’s Hangover,” is not a level I would go to, as this film has a clear identity of its own.



A lot of credit does go to Wiig and her co-screenwriter Annie Momolo, but the work by director Paul Feig is also appreciated.  Those unfamiliar with Feig should know that he was the creator of the short-lived, but much loved series Freaks and Geeks (which was the apparent spawning ground for many directors and comedic actors alike).  Feig has also directed many episodes of The Office and Arrested Development, among other famous series, but this will probably be a very notable project for him.  Similar to what ‘Freaks’ had to offer, Bridesmaids is ostensibly a comedy, and a very funny one, but it does handle some of the more dramatic moments quite well.  The film does fine justice to maintain a proper balance that does more than just provide a very funny comedy.  At two hours and change, this film does run long (a similar fault of many of these comedies), but it is less about how it could have been made shorter and more about seeing how this film tries to earn all of what it presents.



Tastes will certainly differ.  I can say that this is a very funny movie all I want, but we all know comedy is subjective.  Still, I would find it hard to think someone cannot at least smile a lot during this film.  There are so many great things about it, which provide for a lot of great laughs that should not have this film be overlooked.  Add to that a great performance, just on an acting level, from Kristen Wiig, which I can only hope leads to bigger and better things for her.  All of this said, and I have not even made much reference to the gender aspect of this film.  The film is a great comedy in general, which is what I was hoping for. 
Annie:  Are you an appliance?

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