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Review: “Bridesmaids”

Director: Paul Feig
Produced by: Judd Apatow, Barry Mendel, & Clayton Townsend, Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig (co-roducers), Paul Feig (executive producer), Lisa Yadavaia (associate producer)
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Ellie Kemper, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Chris O’Dowd, Jon Hamm
Written by: Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo
Music by: Michael Andrews
Year: 2011


After years of making “movies for guys” like Superbad, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and Knocked-Up, Judd Apatow, famed producer and director, teams up with director Paul Feig, comedian Annie Mumolo, and, of course, Saturday Night Live star Kristen Wiig to finally make a movie aimed at the ladies. And, I have to say, it’s surprisingly high quality!

The hype for Bridesmaids, at least for me, seemed to come out of nowhere. Despite a strong cast and crew, calling a movie “The Hangover for women” isn’t exactly going to inspire confidence in me in the same way that saying that the decidedly non-diet Dr. Pepper Ten is “not for women.” It’s stereotyping in the worst possible way, and actually does its product a disservice, no matter the quality of the one it’s being compared to. I was actually put off by the push to compare the two movies. The Hangover was a good, entertaining movie, period. Bridesmaids, though I can see the comparison, is not The Hangover for women, but it is also a good, entertaining movie in its own right.

Bridesmaids is kind of like the saying “Always a bridesmaid…” adapted into a feature length film… only it’s better than saying that sounds… Kristen Wiig plays Annie, a failed baker with a bruised ego who now makes a miserable living in a jewelry store and continuously gives in to the sexual advances of the rich and handsome but completely selfish and chauvinist Ted (Jon Hamm), if only because it’s the only male attention she gets these days. Her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph), on the other hand, is moving on and getting married, and has asked her childhood friend to be her maid of honor. Annie, despite her fear of how this marriage might change their friendship, happily agrees.

Annie’s happiness for her friend, however, is put under pressure when she meets Helen (Rose Byrne), the rich trophy wife of the boss of Lillian’s fiance and one of the four other bridesmaids. Helen already sees herself as Lillian’s best friend, much to Annie’s frustration, and begins to not only take over Annie’s responsibilities, but does it better and outrageously more expensively.

Unlike most other “chick flicks,” Bridesmaids avoids the standard fare of having two characters become “hilariously” manic and plot slapstick-inducing schemes against one another. Each of the characters is consistent in personality and, even though they’d probably be ridiculous in real life, they’re at least believable while watching the movie because they’re not swinging from one personality to the next and turning on each other with every misunderstanding and frustration.

And, unlike many other, lower movies starring a large cast of females, this movie, despite the disgusting and raunchy humor, is surprisingly respectful towards women as an audience. I mean, I don’t know about you, but when I watch crap like How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days or something of that ilk, I feel like I should start a new feminist crusade! Not so with Bridesmaids. It also helps that the writing and acting is just funnier, too, with great actors cast in their roles. The obligatory love story thrown in doesn’t even feel so obligatory or thrown in as you’d expect when it’s so sweetly performed by Kristen Wiig and Chris O’Dowd – that’s not to say it’s a highlight, either.

Kristen Wiig may be an arguably overused cast member on SNL, but there’s a reason for her popularity, even if it hasn’t always been apparent on the show. She can not only pull off the sympathetic melancholy and sense of failure that Annie has in more serious scenes, she also has just absolutely brilliant comedic timing. If you’ve seen her in the hysterical “Secret Word” skits on SNL, you’ll know just how much she can do with so little material. Luckily, she’s given the opportunity to give herself the material this time around, as she pulls triple duty as actress, writer, and co-producer. If there’s any one highlight for her in this film, it’s definitely the plane ride to Vegas. Roger Ebert rightfully points out that she would have made Lucille Ball proud.

While Maya Rudolph doesn’t necessarily get to do too much here in terms of comedic performance, serving mostly as the straightman to Wiig’s increasingly crazed antics, she serves the role of warm best friend well enough and even gets to deliver one of the film’s biggest laughs in the conclusion to the infamous gown fitting scene. Rose Byrne (X-Men: First Class), who’s not really known for comedy roles, nevertheless sells the villain role of Helen as someone who knows she’s pretty, knows she’s rich, and knows she’s really good at planning social events, but also as someone who knows she’s a trophy wife and not very well liked beyond her superficial value, which lets us empathize with her, if only just a bit.

And while Wendi McLendon-Covey (Reno 911!) and Ellie Kemper (The Office) get their moments to shine as the miserable housewife and innocent bridesmaids, respectively, it’s Melissa McCarthy as Megan who gets what is likely to be the more breakout performance of the film. She comes off almost like a white trash, female version of Ricky Gervais, which, contrary to what I said about comparisons between men and women earlier in this review, is not at all intended to be a disparaging remark. There’s something admirable in an actress who can not only pull off playing someone so frank and gross and still be recognizably feminine and likable at once.

Like Clueless and Mean Girls before it, Bridesmaids is the best kind of “chick flick” — the kind that’s just about women and doesn’t alienate the guys. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: When you get down to it, there are no “guy movies” and “chick flicks.” There are only good movies and bad movies, and while certain movies will appeal more to one audience than another, for sure, no one should look down on a movie just because one audience likes it more than another. Luckily, this is a good movie that just happens to star a lot of great actresses. If you don’t mind raunchy jokes, frank conversations about mature subject matter that, let’s face it, are real life issues, and you’re looking to laugh a lot, definitely seek out Bridesmaids.

The Viewer’s Commentary Rating: 4 / 5


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