Movie Review: Bridesmaids
By Ryan Mazie
May 13, 2011
I rarely see movies twice. It’s not a personal choice, more of a time constriction from how many I already see. But when I walked out of Bridesmaids, I was immediately ready to see it again; knowing that this film was more than your typical star-breaking-away-from-Saturday-Night-Live laugher.
Don’t let the lazy title or poster of the six female stars fool you. Bridesmaids isn’t a chick flick, a romcom, or some “you go girl!” female empowerment schlock. Bridesmaids is simply a comedy. It just so happens that there are more ladies filling the screen than Hollywood is normally comfortable with. That extra dose of estrogen helps raise the sweetness to the surprisingly raunchy Judd Apatow-sealed comedy, which is coarse even by the Knocked Up director’s standards.
Invading the TV airwaves and theater screens for the past few years after becoming the most popular SNL cast member in recent memory, this is Kristen Wiig’s first headlining role.
Not remembering a film with so many laughs from start to finish besides 2009’s The Hangover (the sequel will be released in two weeks), if I had to compare Bridesmaids to one film, it would be that.
With a wide-ranging cast of bumbling misfits that only a wedding could bring together, both films are crass and revolve around major set pieces. The only difference here is that there is a clear ringleader, and that is Wiig, who stars as the down-on-her-luck Annie. Struggling to maintain her personal and professional life afloat after happenstance, she tries to keep her best friend, Lillian (SNL-alum Maya Rudolph), the one constant in her life, from drifting away. Asked to be her Maid of Honor, Annie does her best to plan the wedding while Lillian’s new rich bitch friend Helen (Rose Byrne in a radically different role) is trying to dishonor Annie from the position.
Armed with a strong female ensemble, notably Reno 911!’s Wendi McLendon-Covey as an exhausted mother of two teenage boys and Mike & Molly’s Melissa McCarthy, whose unrefined mannerisms nearly steal the show from Wiig, Bridesmaids hits a homerun when it comes to characters. Developing each female role beyond a vignette, Bridesmaids doesn’t have characters you just laugh at, but also have a strong emotional connection to. Like the boys in The Hangover, you aren’t laughing at the girls, but rooting for them, whether it is in finding true love or escaping airport security in an airplane scene that is a highlight of the film.
Co-written, co-produced, and starring Kristen Wiig, it is quite obvious she has a lot riding on this movie. However, you would never guess by her spot-on performance that she was worrying. A problem with SNL stars switching over to feature films is all that they do is take a sketch and stretch it out just barely to a theatrical running time. Yet, lasting a shockingly long two hours and five minutes (which flies by), and is lengthy by any comedy film standard, it is obvious that Wiig and co-writer Annie Mumolo (a friend of Wiig’s when they were in the famed comedy troupe the Groundlings together) put more than enough thought into the film.
Director Paul Feig (creator of Freaks & Geeks and director of a handful of The Office and Nurse Jackie episodes) could have used a little more theatrical experience to pace the film. Only his second theatrical directorial effort (the first was Unaccompanied Minors), some scenes rattle on a bit, a few of the transitions sag, and the emotional scenes towards the end come off more inserted than natural. Where Feig succeeds is featuring all six of the strong bridesmaids together in a scene – most clearly during a fiasco that happens in a bridal shop that has so many hilarious gross-out gags, you might think that the Farrelly Brothers directed the flick.
With a few bumps here and there, the rapid-fire jokes in Bridesmaids had me too busy laughing to truly notice. Wiig proves her screen presence is just as big on the silver screen as it is on a TV set. Bridesmaids is a flick just as appealing for the groomsmen too. Not a weak link among the cast (oh yeah, speaking of groomsmen, Jon Hamm and newcomer Chris O’Dowd are the sole testosterone providers), the ensemble of women who curse and yell could probably drink the guys from The Hangover under the table. But turning stereotypes upside down is only half the fun. While the bride might be the star on her wedding day, this posse of Bridesmaids takes the cake.
8 out of 10