Film Review: Bridesmaids.
I was a bit late to the Bridesmaids party, but I’m glad I finally got there. The way the film was promoted, as a sort of female version of The Hangover, really rubbed me the wrong way. I’ve also never really cottoned to Kristen Wiig’s particular brand of comedy. But the overwhelmingly positive critical reaction to the film inspired me to go check it out. Considering the dearth of well-done comedy films in recent months, it was a good choice.
The film stars Wiig as Annie, a struggling single woman in her mid-30’s. Her business has gone under, she lives with a pair of obtuse English weirdoes, and her only romantic partner (Jon Hamm) could not care less about her. After Annie’s best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) chooses Annie as the maid of honor at her wedding, things start to unravel even further for her.
The typically zany supporting characters are a huge boon to the film from a comedy perspective. The Office’s Ellie Kemper, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Rose Byrne, and former Gilmore Girls actress Melissa McCarthy star as the other bridesmaids and provide some solid laughs without being too far removed from reality, something that always annoys me in comedy films. Irish actor Chris O’Down plays Nathan Rhodes, the obligatory Kristen Wiig love interest, but manages to make a pretty bland role at least somewhat entertaining. The MVP amongst the cast, though, has to go to Melissa McCarthy as Meghan. Though the trailers make it seem like she’s simply aping Zach Galifanakis’ Hangover schtick, she actually shows some surprising depth as an actress. She also farts a lot.
The film, directed by Paul Feig of Freaks and Geeks fame and co-written by Kristen Wigg, features an interesting combination of raunchy gags and introspective musings on the way friendships change as people get older. What it does better than your typical Judd Apatow film, though, is alternating raunch with pathos. Apatow films tend to be pretty goofy-until the last 20 minutes when things suddenly get very serious. This film weaves the two around each other in a way that both keeps things from getting too silly and prevents the rabble in the audience from getting bored.
I had two problems with the movie. The first is that Annie, the lead character, really is not very likable. She’s got an annoying “woe-is-me” type vide going on and, as Meghan points out, tends to blame the world for her problems rather than owning up to them. Wiig herself is a pretty charming woman, but her character does some inexplicable things that make it hard to really root for her completely.
My second problem is that the film is just a tad too formulaic. I understand that big-budget comedy films without much proven talent in front of the camera are going to be hesitant to take any risks, but the story was strong enough without having to resort to movie clichés, such as the whole love angle between Annie and Nathan Rhodes.
Final Analysis: Bridesmaids is a well done film that provides a lot of laughs while also making some good points about the challenges of friendships. Go see this movie while it’s still in theatres; I’d be shocked if a better comedy film came out this summer.