Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: Paul Feig
Stars: Kirsten Wiig, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy,, Chris O’Dowd, Jon Hamm, Rebel Wilson, Matt Lucas, Maya Rudolph, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ellie Kemper, Jill Clayburgh.
This bittersweet, raunchy comedy is an attempt to make a female buddy comedy along the lines of The Hangover and its ilk, and for the most part it is quite successful. Bridesmaids is full of puerile and scatological humour, and it’s no surprise that Judd Apatow, best known for The 40 Year Old Virgin, etc, is on board as a producer. Bridesmaids is an exploration of female friendships, neurosis, insecurity, sex, and jealousy, but even male audiences who normally shun this type of film will find it far more enjoyable than the likes of Sex And The City and its dire sequel.
Bridesmaids offers genuine laughs, has broad appeal, beyond the usual audience for these female centric comedies. It shows that women can do gross out comedy just as well as the men! And as with most of Apatow’s work, there is a sweet nature beneath the vulgarity. The film has been written by SNL regular Kirsten Wiig and Anna Mumulo, and mixes some sharp humour, gross out humour and farcical moments. The pair worked together in the LA sketch comedy troupe the Groundlings, and they have a great sense for comedy.
Wiig also plays the film’s central character, Annie, a thirtysomething neurotic, lovelorn and highly-strung woman with low self-esteem. She’s in a “friends with benefits” like relationship with a narcissistic actor (an uncredited Jon Hamm) which is going nowhere. Since her own bakery shop went bust she has worked in a jewellery store, a job she is unsuited for and hates. She is also renting a room in a house with a pair of very strange British siblings (played by Little Britain’s Matt Lucas and Rebel Wilson, who make for a really creepy couple). But things gets worse when she is asked to be the maid of honour for her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph, also from SNL).
The other bridesmaids are a colourful bunch, each with their own ideas on marriage. The bridal party includes Megan (Melissa McCarthy, from tv series Mike & Molly, The Gilmore Girls, etc), mother of three Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey), the naïve Becca (Ellie Kemper, from The Office), and the rich and over confident trophy wife Helen (Aussie Rose Byrne). But when Helen tries to exert her own beliefs and take over proceedings, the rivalry between the two women threatens to derail the wedding plans altogether. Because of her money problems, Annie tries to keep celebrations simple. As the lead up to the wedding continues, Annie’s life spirals even further out of control.
The cast is generally very good and throw themselves into the material with enthusiasm. Wiig makes Annie’s sad sack character painful and real, but she is also very good with the slapstick, physical comedy. Byrne has started to carve out a career in Hollywood films, and she seems to be enjoying this rare foray into comedy, relishing the bitchy dialogue. McCarthy steals several scenes as the crass, overweight Megan, who unexpectedly turns out to have a heart of gold. Chris O’Dowd brings a touch of charm to his role as Rhodes, a sympathetic cop who is a potential love interest for Annie. And this film features the last appearance of the late Jill Clayburgh, who plays Annie’s mother. She brings her usual grace and dignity to her few scenes.
The director is Paul Fieg, a veteran of television series like Freaks And Geeks, etc, and he handles the off colour material with flair and energy. One of the more tasteless but hilarious scenes involves the girls suffering the after effects of a debilitating bout of food poisoning while visiting an upmarket, exclusive bridal boutique. With some projectile vomiting and lots of references to excrement, this is as good as anything in the films of Apatow and co.
We’ve seen plenty of wedding-themed romantic comedies of late (Bride Wars, 27 Dresses, etc), but Bridesmaids is easily one of the best. It is also one of the funniest and raunchiest comedies of the year.