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Bridesmaids (2011)

May 29, 2011

written by: Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig

produced by: Judd Apatow, Barry Mendel & Clayton Townsend
directed by: Paul Feig
rated R (for some strong sexuality and language throughout)
125 min. 
U.S. release date: May 13, 2011
It has become acceptable for audiences to embrace a hard R-rated, gross-out comedy revolving around men, especially those churned out by the Judd Apatow machine. But will audiences embrace and accept a bawdy female-centric comedy produced by Apatow, a guy who usually gives woman the short end of the characterization stick? Well, they should, since “Bridesmaids” is one of the funniest movies of the year, giving us six relatable ladies that will make you cry and laugh, in a genuine way. That being said, if anyone calls this a “chick flick”, they should be bonked upside the head with a giant heart-shaped cookie. 

Annie (SNL darling, Kristen Wiig) is having a hard time. She recently lost a chunk of cash when her bakery fell victim of the recent economy crash and now begrudgingly works as a jewelry store clerk in downtown Milwaukee that her mother (Jill Clayburgh, in her final role) got her. It doesn’t help sales that she doesn’t hide from her customers that she sees them as disillusioned young couples in love. since her friends with benefits relationship with the callow Ted (an uncredited Jon Hamm) has its limitations.  She also drives a beat-up car and shares an apartment with Gil (Matt Lucas),  a strange English bloke who’s allowed his equally strange sister Brynn (Rebel Wilson) to free load off them. This is not how Annie envisioned life in her thirties to be.

When her best bud since childhood, Lillian (fellow SNL alum, Maya Rudolph) announces to her that she is getting married, the news hits Annie hard. But she is honored to be asked to be maid of honor, and wants to make this the best experience possible for Lillian. She helps bring together the rest of the bridesmaids through various activities, like newlywed Becca (Ellie Kemper, “Get Him to the Greek”), foul-mouthed bitter mom of three boys Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey, “Reno 911!”), the blunt sister-in-law Megan (scene-stealing Melissa McCarthy, “Mike & Molly”), and then there’s beautiful Helen (the pitch-perfect, Rose Byrne).  She is Lillian’s new friend,  a high maintenance snob who unknowingly dispensing condescension at every turn. 

From the competitive toast to the disastrous bachelorette party, Helen and Annie go at each other with results that are both hilarious and heartbreaking. The cattiness between the two runs amok, as Annie feels outclassed and Helen feels out-of-place as the one who hasn’t known Lillian as long as the maid of honor. But Helen knows how to throw eccentric parties and shop in the finest chic boutiques. It seems all Helen knows how to do is unintentionally get everyone sick at a Brazilian restaurant, resulting in a gross-out explosion for all the girls or royally screw up a Vegas getaway.                                                  

Due to one humiliating situation after another (how about defecating in the middle of a street in broad daylight?), Helen assumes maid of honor duties, leaving Annie in the dust in a crippling pity party for one. Although, she’s able to share her sorrows with a kind and understanding Irish cop (Chris O’Dowd,  resembling 80’s era Judge Reinhold), Annie, not knowing a good thing when she has it, runs away from the possibility of a decent relationship (primarily because the concept is foreign). With her friendship with Lillian in jeopardy, her career and personal life a wreck, Annie must overcome her doubt and embrace confidence one step at a time, if she’s going to have any kind of life.  

There’s been countless movies about weddings in the past, some feel realistic in their almost documentary approach to the events (“Rachel Getting Married”) while others play solely for shallow laughs (“Wedding Crashers”), but you’d be hard-pressed to find a movie that focuses specifically on the duty of bridesmaid, particularly that of the maid of honor. One has to be able to handle a good deal of pressure and chaos to maintain a cool head, while keeping the bride drama free. 

Co-writers Wiig and Annie Mumolo (both Groundlings improv alum) know all this and give Annie and company a layered and well-developed script to work from. If you’re familiar at all with Wiig’s work on Saturday Night Live (and even last year’s MacGruber) you already know that she is a comic genius, game for just about anything. But she’s more than just a funny person, she’s also an actress, and it’s in this movie that she’s able to showcase a wide range of ability. The script provides opportunity to allow raunchy girl talk and vulnerable female bonding to coexist, giving us a rare look at real women on the big-screen.




It’s absolutely refreshing to see a film showcase such tremendous female talent. These characters offer some over-the-top hilarity, but they are funny because they are played with a genuine approach that has the actors taking them seriously. Viewers are sold because we can relate to the different levels of friendship, the uncontrollable turns life provides, and the decision to open your heart to someone else. Although, it could’ve been shortened a bit, at no time did I find myself wanting to part company with these women. 

Director Paul Fieg (helmed a good share of  “Arrested Development” & “The Office”) gives his actors freedom to fully inhabit their characters. I noticed more than one scene where he just lets the camera rest on a reaction, void of any dialogue and in doing so allows character development to build. In other words, Feig isn’t hesitant to let these actors be real people. Sure, the signature Apatow raunchiness is present, but it never is at the cost of who these characters are and the bonds that develop. 

This is a star-making role for Wiig, but again, anyone who’s been following her work knows she has what it takes to carry a major motion picture. She can go all out crazy in one scene and in another lay out her wounded soul. The fun is in seeing her work with such a variety of talent here. Rudolph has a natural chemistry with Wiig, so much that these two feel like they’ve been friends all their lives. Of course, McCarthy is an absolute riot as the confidant, flatulent free spirit, who winds up dishing out some serious life coaching to Annie. There isn’t one scene McCarthy is in that didn’t have me either chuckling or laughing out loud.  

There is absolutely no reason this movie should be compared to any of the “Hangover” movies. “Bridemaids” has more heart and hilarity than both of those movies combined. While it does have adult humor, the difference is it’s not juvenile or demeaning to anyone. There may be humor here that might make some people uncomfortable, but it’s undeniably true. These situations happen and it’s refreshing to see them in a romantic comedy that can be embraced by both sexes. 

RATING: ***1/2                    

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