Whoever said women aren’t capable of being funny was out of his damn mind. And yea, it had to be a guy because come-on, what self-respecting woman, funny or unfunny, would trash her own sex (key word: self-respecting so Sarah Palin doesn’t count). Anyway, I digress. Sandwiched between the releases of two mega blockbusters (Thor and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides), Bridesmaids has been sold by Universal as the “female version of The Hangover” – the best marketing gimmick a star-less comedy could hope for. And while I’m not going to completely disagree with that label, I’m more inclined to call it a cross between The Hangover and Bridget Jones’ Diary as in it’s a laugh-out-loud raunchy & romantic comedy about an unlucky in love, 30-something woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown. That may sound like a bizarre mix but it somehow works – and it’s not because of the creative influence of producer Judd Apatow (whose fingerprints are all over the film) or that of director Paul Fieg (Freaks & Geeks) but because of star and co-writer Kristen Wiig who gives a star-making performance.
Wiig plays Annie, an attractive 30-something who works at a crappy jewelry store as a salesperson, now that her bakery business has collapsed. If you think that’s sad, wait till you get a load of her piece of shit car! This thing has paint chipping off on all sides, is sans air-conditioning and lacks tail-lights. And that’s from what I could see. On a similar note, her love life is also in the dumps as she keeps sleeping with an arrogant playboy (a hilarious Jon Hamm) who treats her like a third-grade prostitute and humiliates her by calling her his “f-buddy.” Just about the only thing Annie has going for her is the relationship with her best friend Lillian (the always wonderful Maya Rudolf) who is her single confidant in all things love and life.
When Lillian tells Annie that she’s getting married, Annie is understandable a bit distraught – seeing how everything in her life is going to shit. But being the good friend she is, she naturally accepts Lillian’s request be her maid of honor. But their friendship is put to risk when Lillian introduces her to Helen (Rose Byrne), the conniving control-freak wife of Lilian’s fiancée’s filthy rich boss. From the moment they meet, Annie is convinced that Helen is out to steal Lillian from her (and she isn’t wrong). As the bridal preparations get under way, Annie and Helen start to engage in a hilarious and intense rivalry of one-upmanship for the affections of Lillian. Whether it’s a hilarious engagement toast scene or a contest of who has the better bridal shower idea or who can come up with the better bachelorette party, things start to progress from bad to worse, with Annie falling off the deep end in most of the cases.
While you’re supposed to feel bad for Annie (and man, we certainly do), you’re going to find it hard to keep a straight face because Wiig and co-writer Annie Mumalo infuse the film with one great set-up after another until all hell breaks loose. Seriously, the laughs in Bridesmaids come so fast and continually that you’re going to be trying hard to listen to the dialogues over the laughter of the audience. A sequence set at a bridal fitting had the entire audience I watched the film with screaming; Really! It’s a sequence that’s so filthy it could rival some of the raunchiest stuff in Superbad or The Hangover. Similarly, a lengthy scene set on a flight to Vegas will bring down the house.
A lot of Bridesmaids lies on the shoulders of Kristen Wiig and that’s a lot for an actress who’s never been cast as a lead before. From the moment I first set eyes on her a few years ago on SNL, I knew I liked her. And I’m not saying this as a man with a crush on an actress (although I do think there are very few things more attractive than an intelligent and funny woman). I think I’ve mentioned it before and I reiterate – Wiig is a phenomenally gifted actress and arguably the funniest comedienne in Hollywood right now (Tiny Fey fans can suck it!). But the big question was not whether she’s funny but if she could carry a film on her own. Most of her big-screen credits before Bridesmaids have been bit parts and small supporting roles – something that has suited many comedians who are better off experienced in small doses. But as Annie, Wiig simply knocks it out of the park. Whether or not you end up enjoying the film, I doubt you’re going to walk out of the film criticizing Wiig’s performance. If the film weren’t a raunchy comedy, you could bet that she’d be a serious award contender in the same way Renee Zellweger was for Bridget Jones’ Diary.
While Bridesmaids may be the funniest film I’ve seen this year, it’s far from perfect. For one, most of the comedy’s best laughs are in the first half while a lot of the character building and emotional moments are pushed over to the second half. When the jokes suddenly stop flowing in favor of more serious character building and relationship mending scenes, the movie begins to drag making it feel a lot longer than it actually is. It’s a good thing that all the supporting performers are equally tremendous. The highlight of the supporting cast being Melissa McCarthy as the foul-mouthed Megan who steals every scene she’s in.
Bridesmaids is funny, smart, heartfelt and just about the best romantic comedy you’ll see this year. Scratch that, it’s the best comedy I’ve seen this year so guys don’t have to worry about it being one of those garbage lovey-dovey, dolled up chick flicks. Led by an incredible star-making performance from Kristen Wiig, this is likely to end up being one of the summer’s best comedies. I highly recommend it.