Movie Review by L.L. Soares
Since we reviewed the new comedy THE HANGOVER PART II yesterday, I thought I might as well review the other big comedy that came out over the past few weeks, since it’s just as good (maybe even better).
I have to admit, I didn’t think I’d like this one. I don’t care about weddings or bridesmaids and this seemed totally geared to a younger, female audience. But I was wrong. BRIDESMAIDS is actually a pretty funny movie. Starring Kristen Wiig (who also co-wrote the script), an alum of Saturday Night Live who has been appearing in lots of movies lately in smaller roles, BRIDESMAIDS is one of those rare things: a comedy with heart and real characters.
Wiig plays Annie, a single woman whose only relationship with a guy these days is providing booty calls for obnoxious businessman Ted (Jon Hamm from the TV series Mad Men), and who wants something more out of her life. Her last real relationship ended in heartbreak, her cake business went belly up due to the bad economy, and she has a hard time trusting anyone except for her closest friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph). But even that gets taken away from her when Lillian announces she’s getting married to her long-time boyfriend. While you’d think this would be a big deal for Lillian, it turns out to be an even bigger deal for Annie, whose life is suddenly turned upside down.
When Lillian asks Annie to be her Maid of Honor, things just get more insane. Annie suddenly finds herself with a lot of responsibility. Not only does she want everything to be perfect for Lillian’s wedding, but the preparations just emphasize in Annie’s mind everything that is going wrong in her own life. It doesn’t help that Lillian’s “new best friend,” is Helen (Rose Byrne) a super-rich perfectionist (she’s the wife of Lillian’s fiancée’s boss), who not only butts in on the Maid of Honor duties, but also is in constant competition for Lillian’s affections. Even though Lillian and Annie have been friends since childhood, they live in different cities now and don’t see each other as much as they used to. So, obviously, life goes on, and Lillian spends a lot of her time with Helen. Most of us have been in these situations, where friends from childhood drift apart a little more than we’d like, and new friendships are formed. It’s just the way life works. But Annie hasn’t moved on, and Lillian is one of the only things she’s got left. So she is devastated that Lillian’s life has changed so much.
The bridesmaids who Annie has to get together with and make arrangements (for fittings, a shower, a bachelorette party, etc.) include: the previously mentioned Helen; Becca (Ellie Kemper) a recent newlywed; Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey), a dissatisfied mother of two; and Megan (Melissa McCarthy), the sister of the groom, who is a bit aggressive, coarse, and…um…”butch.”
In trying to do everything she can to make Lillian’s wedding perfect, Annie just makes things horrible, as things build up toward a showdown with Helen, and in turn, Lillian. At one point, Lillian even kicks Annie out of her wedding party.
While the bridesmaids storyline does get a lot of laughs—there’s a dress fitting at a fancy boutique that turns ugly due to a rash of food poisoning (can you say “projectile vomiting?”); a flight to Vegas for a bachelorette party that lands prematurely after Annie causes a commotion after downing some pills Helen gives her to relax; and a Paris-themed shower that eventually turns ugly—and while the movie itself is called BRIDESMAIDS, I found that the movie was really all about Annie and her emotional crisis in the face of her best friend’s happiness.
We’ve seen a lot of Kristen Wiig lately, she’s appeared in everything from SNL to movies like WHIP IT and ADVENTURELAND (both 2009), McGRUBER and DATE NIGHT (both 2010) and this year’s extraterrestrial comedy, PAUL. She always stands out, she always gets a laugh, and she’s proven herself to be a go-to character actress for a lot of directors. It’s about time someone gave this woman a leading role. And she’s brilliant in it. You care about this character, and she can be very funny. I would go so far as to say Wiig is the number one reason to see BRIDESMAIDS.
For people who like raunchy humor, there’s plenty of that, too. This is an R-rated comedy for a reason, and the movie’s sensibility reminded me a lot of movies like THE HANGOVER and a multitude of Judd Apatow productions.
Aside from Wiig, other stand-out performances include Melissa McCarthy as the extremely vulgar Megan. She steals just about every scene she’s in with her gross antics, and yet she’s got a lot of heart as well. It’s funny to see this woman who played such a sweet character as Sookie from the TV show The Gilmore Girls, now playing such a gross-out character as Megan. Rose Byrne is point perfect as the snooty Helen, who also turns out to be very sympathetic as we get to know her, and Wendi McLendon-Covey has several very funny lines as the unhappy mother of teenagers. Jon Hamm is suitably shallow and a complete jerk as Ted. And Chris O’Dowd has one of the best roles in the movie as Officer Nathan Rhodes, a cop who pulls Annie over for a broken break light and who eventually gets involved with her. Rhodes is a totally sweet guy – the exact opposite of womanizer Ted – and the scenes between Wiig and O’Dowd are very well done, as Annie slowly comes to realize not all men are jerks.
Director Paul Feig’s past work has mostly been on television (shows like Arrested Development, Weeds and Nurse Jackie), and he does a fine job here. Of course the great script by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo must have made his job a helluva lot easier.
BRIDESMAIDS is the kind of movie a lot of guys would go see as a date movie and unexpectedly find themselves laughing out loud to.
I am predicting that BRIDESMAIDS will be the movie to make Kristen Wiig a star, and rightly so. I hope to see a lot more of this terrific actress and comedian. I give this one three knives.
© Copyright 2011 by L.L. Soares
LL Soares gives BRIDESMAIDS - three knives!