Monday, April 25, 2011

Movie Review: Bridesmaids

Rated: R

Website: Official Bridesmaids site

Starring: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd, Jon Hamm

My Review: I was lucky enough to attend an advance screening of the comedy Bridesmaids, so figured a brief step out of my hiatus to share my thoughts on it was in order. You are allowed to show your pleasure.

Bridesmaids wants very badly to be a female-centric comedy without delving into the realm of romantic comedies and being labeled with the unfairly tainted hallmark “chick flick.” Being produced by Apatow Productions and having Paul Feig as director is a step in the right direction, but the movie still lacks that certain something that would make it the next The 40-Year Old Virgin comedy sensation.

Annie (played by Kristen Wiig) is going through a bit of a rough patch in life. Her bakery business went under due to the recession, so she now works at a boring jewelry store job she got through one of her mother’s Alcoholic’s Anonymous contacts. She shares an apartment with a pair of very creepy British siblings. The closest thing she has to a real relationship is occasional sex with a guy who would prefer that she not spend the night (played by Jon Hamm, so it’s hard to feel too sorry for her). And to add the cherry to her crap-life sundae, her life-long best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph) is getting married and wants Annie to be her maid of honor. Wanting to be supportive, but in way over her head, Annie agrees, and is introduced to her fellow bridesmaids, including Helen (Rose Byrne), an overgrown mean girl who is hell-bent on using her rolodex of important contacts and her husband’s money to give Lillian the wedding of her dreams, thus muscling Annie out of the role of “best friend.”

While Bridesmaids tries hard to avoid typical romantic comedy tropes, I wish it had tried a little harder. While the bulk of the movie is about the women and their relationships with each other—the groom only has one line in the whole movie; “I do”—it can’t resist dipping into the familiar well a couple of times. In addition to the cattiness that bubbles up between Annie and Helen in their fight for Lillian, Annie is also presented with the classic dilemma of having to choose between two men: One is handsome, but treats her poorly, the other is kind of nerdy, but adores her. Whoever will she ride into the sunset with at the end?! (Hint: Exactly who you think she will.) There was plenty of comedy to mine in having an inept maid of honor try to make her best friend’s big day memorable, so having to shoehorn in a love triangle and rehash the stereotype that women would rather fight than be friends was disappointing.

Being an R-rated comedy in the Apatow family, Bridesmaids is rife with adult-only humor that you wouldn’t want your children (or possibly your parents) to see. The movie opens with a sequence of Annie having awkward sex with her disinterested fuck buddy, and the biggest gag involves a case of food poisoning that leads to massive uncontrollable vomiting and explosive diarrhea. The laughs are plentiful throughout most of the movie, but about midway through they start to feel kind of cheap. Sure it’s an adult comedy, so things are bound to be a bit raunchy, but most adults can find humor in things other than bad sex and bodily functions.

Though their times on Saturday Night Live overlapped very briefly, Kristin Wiig and Maya Rudolph make such a natural pair of best friends, you would think they’ve been working together for years. The fact that the uptight Helen thinks she even has a chance of coming in between them is almost laughable. But the real standout in Bridesmaids is Melissa McCarthy as Megan, the groom’s sister and one of Lillian’s bridesmaids. If, like me, you were a fan of her Sookie on Gilmore Girls, prepare to be shocked, as brash, bawdy, and vulgar Megan is the anti-Sookie. It would have been easy to stick her in the role of “token funny fat person,” so it was refreshing that she got to be genuinely funny (and kind of gross) with her weight having nothing to do with her comedy.

Bottom Line: Bridesmaids offers lots of laughs, and some heart, but there just isn’t enough there to make it a comedy that you’ll want to revisit again and again, or to pick you up when you need a laugh. If a movie ever manages to capture the true hilarity that can come from female relationships, leaving cattiness and overdone love complications out of the equation, I’ll happily be first in line to see it. But if they wanted to cast Jon Hamm as another casual sex partner, I’d be OK with that.