Director: Paul Fieg
Starring: Kristin Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne
Does it matter that one of the big comedic centerpieces of Bridesmaids relies on lazy bathroom humor? Or that the film throws out a series of interpersonal conflicts that grow and grow only to be quickly resolved with hugs and a group sing-a-long at the end? Short answer: no. There may not be anything revolutionary about Bridesmaids, but it's a very, very funny movie. It's kind of a shame that its release is sandwiched between Thor and probable box office juggernaut Pirates of the Caribean, but hopefully word of mouth will help it find the legs to net a decent box office take because it certainly deserves it.
Kristin Wiig (who also co-wrote the screenplay with Annie Mumolo) stars as Annie, who is at a particularly low point in her life (though she soon discovers that things can get much, much worse) as the film opens. Her bakery has gone under and her boyfriend has gone with it, and now she’s working at a jewellery store where she aggressively attempts to warn engaged couples and teenagers wanting to buy “BFF” necklaces that more often than not relationships don’t last, and she’s involved in a casual and unsatisfying non-relationship with Ted (Jon Hamm, totally stealing the show with his a-holery). When Lillian (Maya Rudolph), her best friend since childhood, becomes engaged, her life goes into a complete tailspin.
The crux of her distress is Lillian’s new friendship with Helen (Rose Byrne), whose coolness and elegance leaves Annie feeling wholly inadequate. It would be bad enough if Helen’s effortless perfection simply made Annie’s own shortcomings stand out in sharp relief, but to make matters worse, Helen is actively trying to usurp Annie’s place in Lillian’s life. As things progress towards the wedding, Annie and Helen wage war over Lillian and since Annie is both less subtle about it and much worse at it, it ends up driving a wedge between her and Lillian. Will they make up before the wedding? Well, yeah, it’s a comedy. But any points it loses for being derivative it regains by being hilarious.
Directed by Paul Feig, Bridesmaids is a film that (mostly) finds the right balance between its lead and the supporting cast. It’s true that Wendi McLendon-Covey and Ellie Kemper, as two fellow bridesmaids, don’t get very much to do (though McLendon-Covey kills in every one of her scenes), but the other supporting characters are used judiciously. Hamm is used just enough to leave an impression but not enough that his thoroughly unpleasant character wears the story down, Jill Clayburgh (in her final performance) ends up being inspired casting as Wiig’s mother, Matt Lucas and Rebel Wilson have small roles as Annie’s weirdo British roommates, and Melissa McCarthy, playing Megan, a bridesmaid as well as the sister of the groom, shines. Megan is the broadest of all the characters, the target of many of the film’s easiest jokes, but McCarthy’s performance is able to raise the character above the very low bar the film sets for her and even give her some genuine humanity.
The anchor of the film is of course Wiig, who alternates easily between Annie’s frequent descents into wackiness and the more realistic and emotionally weighty moments in the film. Bridesmaids really doesn’t have much in the way of depth but it does make the effort to flesh Annie out as a character, to make her struggles at least somewhat relatable so that she’s a rootable underdog rather than a straight up crazy person. Like I said before, Wiig co-wrote the script and I think that her comic sensibilities ultimately set the tone for the film (particularly in the scenes between Wiig and Rudolph) despite the unmistakable stamp of producer Judd Apatow on certain scenes. In the lead up to the film’s release there was a lot of talk about how it’s up to this particular film to improve the lot of female-driven movies and that women have some kind of obligation to see this one to show that women can carry movies. I think that’s all pretty absurd for a lot of reasons but I will say that though I don’t think anyone should feel “obligated” to see Bridesmaids, I doubt that you’d regret seeing it. It’s unquestionably light-weight fare, but it definitely delivers on its promise to bring the laughs.