© 2011 Ray Wong
Judd Apatow may not have directed Bridesmaids, but the producer's signature is everywhere. The gender of the protagonist may have changed, but the raunch and grossness are still there.
Annie (Kristen Wiig) thinks she's hit bottom after her business (as a baker) failed, and she's stuck at a dead-end job and a loveless sex-buddy relationship. But when her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) is getting married, Annie can really feel the pain of her failures. As Lillian's maid of honor, she tries to focus her energy on making Lillian's wedding great.
But things don't go that well when Annie realizes how lavish Lillian's wedding is turning out to be. Worst of all, Lillian has a new best friend, Helen (Rose Byrne), who is beautiful, rich and successful, and is slowly taking over the wedding plans. Annie becomes increasingly jealous, while feeling sorry for herself.
She starts to act out her frustration and anger, thus further alienating Lillian. Then she meets a kind cop, and just when she thinks she may have a chance for happiness, she runs away. It's only when she loses her job, her friendship with Lillian, and her apartment does she know she's now really hit bottom.
Kristen Wiig (Paul) is one of the funniest ladies in Hollywood now, but alas! she's been having trouble finding her breakout role. With Bridesmaids, however, I think she's got it. She plays to her strength as a lanky, awkward, self-conscious girl-next-door "loser." Wiig has a very relatable presence and she is at her best when she plays someone we could all laugh at and with. However, Wiig also shows dramatic capability when delivering the more heartfelt scenes. Don't get me wrong, Wiig is hilarious all the way, but it's also nice to see her shine in the poignant moments.
Wiig's former SNL cast-mate Maya Rudolph (Grown Ups) is also funny as Lillian, the unfortunate bride. Rudolph has a great sense of comic timing and doesn't shy from acting silly and crazy. She and Wiig also has a great rapport. Rose Byrne (Insidious) is also perfectly cast as Annie's nemesis. She more or less plays the "straight" girl in this ensemble, which makes the other bridesmaids look even more hilarious.
The group of oddball bridesmaids are played by Melissa McCarthy (The Back-up Plan) as Lillian's sister-in-law, Wendi McLendon-Covey (Reno 911) as Annie and Lillian's high school pal, and Ellie Kemper (Get Him to the Greek) as Becca. They are all hilarious. The handful of men are pretty good also, most notably Chris O'Dowd (Gulliver's Travels) as the smitten cop, and Jon Hamm (Sucker Punch) as the douche-bag that is Annie's sex-buddy.
Kristen Wiig, together with Annie Mumolo (In the Motherhood), wrote the screenplay (they also have a funny airplane scene together). This is Wiig's first screenplay and it's comedy gold. Now, I don't know how much help Wiig and Mumolo got, but the screenplay is hilarious without sacrificing the heart and soul of the characters and story. The characters are well drawn and complicated and immensely flawed, but you root for them anyway. The situations are raunchy and, quite frankly, disgustingly outrageous.
Wiig and Mumolo manage to combine the female sensibilities, the most sacred female rituals, and gross-out comedies that would make a grown man cringe. Some of the situations and jokes (not to mention language) make me blush with embarrassment. Kudos for Wiig and the cast to act and say them with straight faces. However, what really impresses me isn't just the raunchiness and hilarity, but also the heart of the story. It's basically one about a depressed woman's downward spiral to a nervous breakdown. Also, the relationships are nicely drawn and beautifully acted.
Director Paul Feig (The Office) makes his big-budget movie debut with Bridesmaids, and he's done a rather good job. The production is adequate and mostly, he just turn on the camera and let the actors do their thing. Still, Feig paces the film just right and there's not a dull moment. Considering the last cast, he gives each actor the equal opportunity to deliver their materials and shine.
If you think the previews of Bridesmaids looked hilarious, then you must run to the theater to see it. Hilarious it is, but it also has a lot of heart. It shows that when it comes to comedies, gender doesn't matter. There is a market for gross-out comedies about women. And this one is definitely a bride, never a bridesmaid.
Stars: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ellie Kemper, Chris O'Dowd, Jon Hamm
Director: Paul Feig
Writers: Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexuality, language
Running Time: 125 minutes
Script – 8
Performance – 8
Direction – 7
Cinematography – 7
Editing – 8
Production – 8
Total – 7.8 out of 10