Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Opens locally Friday, May 13th, 2011
Run Time: 2 hours, 5 minutes
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ellie Kemper, Melissa McCarthy, Jon Hamm
Directed by Paul Feig (TV Director of Freaks & Geeks, The Office, Nurse Jackie, and Parks & Recreation, amongst many more)
“Bridesmaids” is the definition of a chick-flick, crossed with the low-brow immaturity usually found in male-driven movies like “Billy Madison” or “Anchorman.” The result is a new breed of comedy, the R-Rated vulgar gross-out comedy aimed at a female audience. But that’s not the only intended audience, and doesn’t give the movie enough justice. “Bridesmaids” is funny for any gender, and is the hands-down funniest film thus far in 2011, which also includes, dare I say, the best female performance of the year as well.
The Plot. Kristen Wiig plays Annie, a down-and-out gal who is unlucky in love, broke, and not quite where she thought she’d be in life. Her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) is getting married, and Annie is asked to be the Maid of Honor, responsible for planning many of the events surrounding the wedding such as the shower and the bachelorette party. Annie and Lillian are old friends, and the honor of being asked to carry on these important responsibilities is more than Annie can handle. When Helen (Rose Byrne), a rich, successful, and beautiful bridesmaid enters the picture, she threatens Annie’s friendship to Lillian. Helen is the new friend acting like the best friend, and her expensive tastes and different ideas for Lillian’s wedding drive a wedge between her and Annie. The result is a hilarious story about female friendship, self-image, and the ties that bind.
Featuring an all-star cast of comic talent, the movie is funny from the get-go. You think Jon Hamm is a charismatic and charming cat? Think again. His douche-bag take as Annie’s bed-buddy will have you pissed at him the next time you watch him in an episode of Mad Men. The other bridesmaids, including Wendi Mclendon-Covey (from Reno 911) and Ellie Kemper (the secretary of NBC’s The Office), all bring remarkably funny moments and characters into the film. None however steal scenes like Melissa McCarthy, the overweight, obnoxious and uninhibited bridesmaid who will find a new level of stardom after this film is released. She’s abrasive, gross, and laugh-out loud funny in nearly every scene and a true joy to watch.
But the true star of the film is Kristen Wiig, the break-out Saturday Night Live star who over the past few years has established her not as the next Gilda Radner, but as the first Kristen Wiig. In the past year or so on SNL, she has almost been over-used and over-the-top, not nearly as consistently funny as she was when she was a bit player in the beginning. But in “Bridesmaids,” Kristen Wiig is a perfect storm. She is amazingly talented and with this material, she is hysterically funny without ever giving us too much. She has great timing as a comedian, and as a co-writer on the film, you can tell that she played the role to suit her best talents.
But it’s her charm in-between the zaniness of the movie that makes her performance here a true achievement. At it’s heart (and “Bridesmaids” does have one), Wiig makes her character believable and relatable, much in the same way Tina Fey’s adult-loser Liz Lemon does on 30 Rock. Wiig’s friendship needs to be believable to make us care about her inner turmoil about losing her friend, and it helps that the bride is played by Wiig’s real-life friend and former SNL-er, Maya Rudolph.
So what am I doing talking about acting in a movie like “Bridesmaids?” Don’t worry, there is memorable scene after memorable scene, and the entire ensemble is given room…just maybe not quite as much character development. It’s a perfectly cast, pitch-perfect comedy, brought down only by some bits that don’t work maybe as well as intended (like the entire party getting indigestion after eating at a restaurant Annie recommended, or a musical number at the end featuring Wilson Phillips).
It may shock people, but it shouldn’t, that women are not always “proper” as they were perhaps a century ago. To my generation (Gen Xer) and beyond, it’s kind of odd that a movie such as bridesmaids hasn’t been released before. Hopefully this movie sets off a wave of more dominant roles for female comedians, and as this movie portrays, there are a whole slew of talented comic women ready to take the spotlight. It’s in the vain of The Hangover, but comparisons need to stop…this movie is a much better representation of friendship and overall a much better film.
Bottom Line. So kick me out of the movie critic club for saying this, but if there was ever a comedic role worthy of award consideration, it is Kristen Wiig in “Bridesmaids.” She is funny, but understated at times and gives one heck of a performance. The movie itself will be an important one, as far as comedies go, as one of the first R-Rated raunch-comedies for women, but also as the turning point for Kristen Wiig, where we see her go from comedic character to A-List Comedy Queen.
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