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Friday, May 20, 2011


The ladies of Bridesmaids get ready for a fitting.

3 Stars

Bridesmaids is NOT The Hangover with girls, despite Universal’s best efforts at making you think so. What’s different about the two films? This one is actually funny. Not side-splittingly so, but definitely funny. If’ you’ve seen Kristin Wiig on Saturday Night Live, you know her comic strengths and you ought to know what you’ll get from this film—some uncomfortable interactions and a lot of deadpan sarcasm. In some ways, it’s tough for that type of humor to carry a two-plus hour feature—and the script definitely hits a few potholes along the way—Paul Feig’s movie earns your two hours and ten bucks with plenty of solid laughs

The main character is Annie (Wiig)—a single, thirtysomething in Milwaukee with a failed business and low self-esteem. The person who keeps her going is Lillian (Maya Rudolph), her best friend since childhood. When Lillian tells Annie about her engagement, Annie is stunned, saddened, and nervous about the future. But she’s really excited about being Lillian’s maid of honor.

At Lillian’s engagement party, Annie meets the other bridesmaids, including the rich and beautiful Helen (Rose Byrne) and the loud and very strange Megan (Melissa McCarthy). Annie lets Helen—who’s a perfectionist and kind of a bitch—get to her head, and this threatens to drive a wedge between Annie and Lillian, as the Helen/Annie rivalry begins to overshadow Lillian’s big day.

The plot is very episodic, with each major event of Lillian’s engagement producing an extended comedic sequence. Some of these scenes are hilarious—the airplane to Vegas was by far my favorite. Others are kind of weak—the French-themed engagement party goes on way too long. Some better-than-average drama and romance fill the spaces between each of these sequences, which makes the story follow a familiar path. But the characters make it a path we’re happy to follow.

The best of the bunch is Melissa McCarthy’s Megan, who steals just about every scene she’s in. It’s pretty clear that she’s being marketed as the female Zach Galifianakis, and I think in that respect, the Bridesmaids/Hangover comparison is apt. She’s totally untamed and does some things that will shock you. Wiig is a likeable everygal, while Rudolph does a really good job in a typically throwaway role.

I also found the romantic subplot to be quite charming. Not the scenes with Jon Hamm, obviously. He’s a scoundrel and just a riot. Chris O’Dowd is someone totally unfamiliar to me, but he’s really quite sweet, and he and Wiig have tremendous chemistry. I actually wish the film focused a little more on their relationship, especially in favor of some of the Helen/Annie stuff, which feels played out by the end of the film.

I’m glad this film is succeeding because there’s definitely a gender gap in comedy, and I hope studios realize it can be bridged. Just look at all the female talent on display in this film and the way audiences are responding to it. It might not be as funny as something like The 40-Year-Old Virgin or Superbad (two of my all-time favorite comedies, but it’s better than 90% of the “funny” stuff that gets released nowadays. And for that reason, I’m more than happy to champion it, even though I find it somewhat flawed.

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