Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Jill Clayburgh, Jon Hamm, Matt Lucas DIRECTED BY
Paul Feig SCREENPLAY
Annie Mumolo, Kristen Wiig MPAA RATING
Rated R RUNNING TIME
125 Mins. DISTRIBUTED BY
Universal Pictures DVD EXTRAS
Unrated & Theatrical Versions
Feature Commentary with Director Paul Feig, Co-Writer Annie Mumolo and Cast Members Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McClendon-Covey & Ellie Kemper
Extended & Alternate Scenes
There's something about Bridesmaids that you're truly going to love. It may be the film's relentlessly raunchy humor, a rarity in female driven films that is both incredibly welcome and marvelously pulled off. It may be the film's perfectly cast ensemble of ladies who, like virtually every other Apatow production, are both hilariously naughty and infinitely lovable. It may simply be the film's abundant heart, admittedly sometimes well disguised underneath scatological humor, name-calling and over-the-top bitchy rivalries.
Whatever the reason, even if you don't absolutely rave about the film there will be something you love about Bridesmaids, directed by Freaks & Geeks co-creator Paul Feig and co-written by and starring Kristen Wiig, who has found practically the perfect leading role for herself while giving ample opportunities for those around her to truly shine. While the film is never quite as consistent nor as funny as 40-Year-Old Virgin or even Knocked Up, it is easily one of this year's most satisfying and entertaining R-rated comedies.
Wiig plays Annie, a 30ish blonde struggling to get by after her neighborhood bakery went under, her boyfriend left her and she lost pretty much everything. She's reduced to working in a jewelry store gig arranged by her recovering alcoholic mother (the late Jill Clayburgh), never a great gig for someone on the down side of a recently ended relationship. Annie's only confidantes are her fuck buddy (Jon Hamm) and her best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph). Things go from bad to worse when Lillian announces her engagement and, of course, Annie is to be the Maid of Honor and finds herself surrounded by four new friends, 'er bridesmaids, a Disney poster girl newlywed named Becca (Ellie Kemper), a jaded and worn out and nearly alcoholic wife named Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey), an awesomely crass and brash government employee with mega security clearance called Megan (Melissa McCarthy) and Helen (Rose Byrne), a ridiculously rich and controlling woman who might mean well but might not.
Sound a bit like The Hangover?
It probably should, complete with an almost trip to Vegas and enough alcohol and life-fueled hijinks that only occasionally feel manipulative or forced and even then are usually laugh out loud funny. The master stroke of the script from Wiig and Annie Mumolo is that it, at least for the most part, avoids female stereotypes and embraces humorous situations that could played as easily by a Seth Rogen-led male ensemble as it is by this Wiig-led cast. Wiig, though, is perfectly cast here and the perfect choice to helm such inspired and yet surprisingly meaningful lunacy. Wiig showed glimpses of drama in the under-rated Paul, and here she goes full out as an actress who manages to be both heartbreaking and hilarious with equal ease. On a certain level, Bridesmaids even feels like the perfect companion film to Will Ferrell's Everything Must Go, another film centered around a lovable yet achingly flawed character.
Wiig portrays Annie as the sort of everyday lovable type, the kind of woman a guy really wants to fuck but then ends up dumping because they find someone prettier or richer or funnier or just a whole hell of a lot more sparkly. Then, 10 years down the road it occurs to the guy that maybe, just maybe, he actually passed on the perfect woman.
Wiig's Annie is the perfect woman, an intelligent and beautiful and sensitive woman. She just doesn't know it, and it's not an insight her fuck buddy cares to share. So, the cycle continues.
Maya Rudolph can do practically no wrong, and she sparkles here as the best friend who is uncomfortably able to both dance on the dark side with her new rich friend while being her old irreverent self with Annie. Rudolph has nearly always displayed a gift for finding the humorous nuances in the simplest of lines, a gift that works wonders here. Melissa McCarthy is extraordinary and scene-stealing here, avoiding the potential pitfalls of playing the "fat friend" and instead creating in Megan a full-bodied humor that exudes heart and soul and balls to the walls brashness. Bridesmaids also gives Rose Byrne a great gig, and Byrne makes the most of it with a performance that never gets cheapened by falling into "rich bitch" caricature.
Despite the film's slightly over two hour run-time, the other two bridesmaids are mostly afterthoughts here, a particular shame with Ellie Kemper's Becca. One gets the sense that some of Kemper's best stuff landed on the cutting room floor, leaving audiences with a sort of Enchanted type of Disney princess who we'd have enjoyed getting to know quite a bit more.
Jon Hamm is appropriately creepy and smarmy as Annie's casual fling, while Chris O'Dowd does a nice job as a local cop who takes a bit of a liking to Annie and could potentially offer a glimmer of hope. Bridesmaids was also the last film for the late Jill Clayburgh, and her performance here is rather bittersweet as she radiates that warmth and intelligence that we've loved about her for years yet she also appears gaunt and weakened.
Bridesmaids runs a good 15 minutes long, courtesy of camera work from Robert Yeoman that occasionally lingers too long on facial expressions and waiting for second laughs that sometimes never arrive. While Annie's roommates, a rather odd brother/sister British duo, are interesting characters they feel a bit irrelevant here and unnecessary. It would have been much more entertaining to spend more time with the two afterthought bridesmaids rather than these two who are mostly irrelevant to the story.
Modestly flawed yet consistently funny and far fresher than most of the comedies we've seen in recent months, Bridesmaids isn't quite as raunchy as is being portrayed by most media yet it is far raunchier than what we've come to expect from female dominated casts. In this film, characters aren't so much defined by their gender as they are by their quirks, kinks, flaws and relationships. Bridesmaids isn't funnier because this is women acting this way and we're not used to it, but because this is an incredibly talented cast that mines perfectly the highs and lows of their characters with tremendous results.
The Independent Critic is proud to support Indy-based Heartland Film by committing to the 50/50 x 2020 Pledge - By the end of the year 2020, The Independent Critic will achieve gender parity in its reviews of both shorts and feature films. Furthermore, The Independent Critic also pledges support for the Ruderman Family Foundation's call for authentic representation of people with disabilities in film and actively commits to leverage its journalistic influence to effect genuine change in the film industry by calling for and actively promoting authentic and inclusive casting and hiring of people with disabilities.