Review: "Bridesmaids" Sets The Bar High For This Summer's Comedies

Review: "Bridesmaids" Sets The Bar High For This Summer's Comedies

By the end of Bridesmaids, one thing is clear: Women, despite however much we men want them to always be quote-unquote feminine and prissy, do indeed defecate. Oh, and they also vomit. And make crude penis jokes. And, most importantly, they can anchor a Judd Apatow-produced, R-rated comedy just as well as our dudes Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, and Jason Segel.

complex-review-bridesmaidsIn true Apatow fashion, Bridesmaids showers raunchy humor and profanity-laden dialogue exchanges upon viewers at a relentless pace, yet that’s not what makes the super-producer’s movies so effective; he never overlooks the characters’ hearts and souls, an awareness of emotion that permeates throughout Bridesmaids, a slightly overlong yet genuinely funny success that’s easily the funniest movie of 2011 thus far.

It must be noted, however, that the applause for Bridesmaids shouldn’t be pointed in Judd Apatow’s direction; the film’s undeniable MVP is none other than Kristen Wiig, who’s long been the best thing about Saturday Night Live, and who’s now, thanks to Bridesmaids, a bona fide movie star. Wiig co-wrote the screenplay with close friend Annie Mumolo, providing a deep connection to the material that certainly helped the character actress soar in her first leading role.

Contrary to what the posters and commercials might tell you, Bridesmaids is the Kristen Wiig show, featuring assists from an impressive ensemble of strong female comedic talents. But make no mistake about it—Wiig is the movie’s flesh-and-blood nucleus, and Bridesmaids is her coming-out party as one of the game’s sharpest funny persons.

Bridesmaids Shows That Weddings Are About More Than Trying To Smash The Single Friends—Who Knew, Right?

Wiig plays Annie, whose longtime best friend Lillian (played by fellow SNL alum Maya Rudolph) asks her to be the maid of honor at her forthcoming wedding. Annie quickly accepts, yet her newfound pre-ceremony responsibilities (planning the bachelorette party, helping pick out the dresses) arrive at a time when she’s feeling lonely in the romance department and forced to move back in with her mother.

Despite the non-wedding drama, Annie moves forward with her duties and meets the rest of the bridal party: Helen (a wonderfully pretentious Rose Byrne), Lillian’s wealthy and stuck-up new BFF towards whom Annie immediately feels jealous; Becca (Ellie Kemper, who is one of our favorite interview subjects ever), a prudish and clean-living newlywed; Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey), a horny, overworked mother looking for some hot and steamy infidelity; and Megan (an attention-grabbing Melissa McCarthy), the groom’s vulgar sister.

Bridesmaids is easily the funniest movie of 2011 thus far.

Bridesmaids, directed by Paul Feig (who created the beloved cult TV show Freaks And Geeks), unfolds somewhat predictably. Annie becomes more and more contemptuous toward Helen, while her inability to give her inner self to a charming cop/new love interest (played with solid everyman appeal by newcomer Chris O’Dowd), coupled with a slew of other demons (one being Jon Hamm’s womanizer character, whom Annie can’t resist), hinders her maid of honor abilities. With the film’s endless barrage of one-liners and drawn-out comedy sequences, it’s quite remarkable how well Feig manages to land each of the dense script’s true-to-life human moments. And Wiig, revealing deep facets of her skill set that have been concealed in her previous bit-player roles, is a massive reason why Bridesmaids scores whenever its tone is grounded in emotion.

Female Flatulence Has Never Been So Agreeable

Whenever Feig’s pic isn’t focused on the drama, however, which is more often than not, its sole purpose is to generate uproarious laughter. In that mission, Bridesmaids is largely victorious. The jokes are strong enough to recommend this one as more than just a date movie; you know, the kinds of flicks that dudes will only see when their girlfriends coerce them to do so with promises of post-screening whoopee or promise to let them play video games in peace the next night. The film’s romantic subplot (that of Wiig and O’Dowd) does indeed justify its distinction as a worthy see-it-with-your-girl movie, but Bridesmaids achieves an unusual feat for a flick your chick is dying to see: It’s one that you could see with your boys, as well.

complex-review-bridesmaids-kristen-wiig-rose-byrneThe raunchiest bit takes place inside a wedding dress shop, where the ladies try on various looks after a group meal at a low-rent Brazilian restaurant, suggested by the financially strapped Annie. In the middle of debating Annie’s inexpensive dress-of-choice with Helen’s pricier top pick, the food catches up with them, triggering stomach pains for some, projective puking for others, and a case of uncontrollable feces for McCarthy and Rudolph’s characters.

While funny in its unabashed filth, the sequence does feel a smidge gratuitous, not because it’s a bunch of women acting out a vile scene that’s often used to well-received effect in male-dominated comedies. The rest of the movie’s gags and punchlines earn valid guffaws without having to stoop to the laughter genre’s lowest-common-denominator tropes; spending so much time with poop feels trite by comparison.

Like Fine Women Themselves, Bridesmaids Is Desirable Despite Its Imperfections

An unnecessary bout with bodily waste isn’t the only problem in Bridesmaids. A few of its humor-driven scenes overstay their welcome, mirroring an issue that plagues the least effective of skits on Wiig and Rudolph’s SNL meeting ground. The too-much-of-a-good-thing dilemma is especially potent in a decreasingly efficient episode on an airplane ride to Las Vegas, as well as a bit where Wiig attempts to gain a hurt O’Dowd’s cop-minded attention by breaking every driving law possible.

Whereas several scenes run too long, most of the bridesmaids themselves are underused, namely Kemper and McLendon-Covey, who get to say a bunch of funny lines a piece before pretty much disappearing from the storyline at the film’s midway point. It’s Wiig’s vehicle, yes, but Bridesmaids glaringly leaves its strongest role players confined to the back seat.

But, think about that: When a movie’s chief problems are that there are too many likable performers and sporadic overindulgences of humor, is that really such a bad thing? Besides, there’s a larger and more relevant issue at play here.

Come the end of August, we very well might look back upon Bridesmaids as one of the summer’s biggest event movies, though its impact won’t necessarily be measured with dollar signs. Rather, this Wiig/Feig collaboration could quite possibly usher in a new wave of female-populated comedies that we actually want to see. Until then, Bridesmaids wears the crown as the year’s funniest movie to date. Or should we say tiara?

Tags: kristen-wiig, maya-rudolph, ellie-kemper, rose-byrne, judd-apatow, bridesmaids
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