Review – Bridesmaids

Finding out a close friend is getting married can be an exciting moment only sullied by the news that you are part of the bridal party. Some people spend their entire lives engaging in friendships hoping that one day they will get the call up. Other people (like me*) prefer to simply show up as a guest and indulge in the open bar, gourmet food and chicken dancing. Being part of a bridal party is a full time job, especially if your tasked with ‘best man’ duties or the highly sort after ‘maid of honour’ position. The term ‘bridezilla’ wasn’t invented for nothing and there are certainly enough horror stories to facilitate a million wedding themed Hollywood comedies until the apes rise up and enslave us all. Comedy producer extraordinaire Judd Apatow has heard some of these horror stories and has compressed them all into ‘Bridesmaids’. In ‘Bridesmaids’ Annie (Kristen Wigg) is a baker down on her luck after her cake business closes due to the recession. She’s in a bad relationship with her ‘friend’ Ted (Jon Hamm) that doesn’t extend beyond the bedroom, she’s sharing a flat with two creepy housemates Brynn (Rebel Wilson) and Gil (Matt Lucas), she works at a tacky jewelry store and to make matters worse her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) asks her to be the maid of honour at her wedding. Annie soon meets up with her fellow bridesmaids; the newlywed Becca (Ellie Kemper), the tomboy Megan (Melissa McCarthy), the repressed housewife Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey) and the rich and beautiful Helen (Rose Byrne) who has her eye on taking Annie’s spot as maid of honour. Soon Annie’s life starts to spiral out of control as the group goes on a series of misadventures that threatens her relationship with Lillian and she meets a kind police officer Nathan Rhodes (Chris O’Dowd) who just might be Mr. Right. ‘Bridesmaids’ is a fantastic comedy led by a strong performance from Kristen Wigg backed up by a talented supporting cast and director that manages to miss all the pitfalls of most wedding based comedies.

Performances are all spot on in ‘Bridesmaids’ with Kristen Wigg proving she is one of the best female comedic actors around today who can easily be put in the same category as her former ‘Saturday Night Live’ co-stars Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Wigg is effortlessly funny and not only excels at delivering big laughs, but also the emotion that comes with a lot of the films second act as relationships start to fray. Wigg also proves she has got the writing talent putting the script together with fellow writer Annie Mumolo. The entourage that make up the rest of the bridal party provide apt support with another former ‘Saturday Night Live’ cast member Maya Rudolph excellent as the bride to be who drives the films plot and is likeable enough for you to hope that her dream wedding comes together. The bridesmaids themselves are a mixed bunch that all bring something to the table, Rose Byrne is annoyingly sympathetic as the perfect Helen, Ellie Kemper is perfectly cast as a squeaky clean newlywed and Wendi McLendon-Covey almost steals the show with very small screen time playing a bored housewife. The only character I didn’t enjoy was the tomboy ‘Megan’ played by Melissa McCarthy who felt forced into the film as the female version of Allan from ‘The Hangover’, it just doesn’t work and it’s mainly due to the characters reliance on a lot of gross out humour. Representing the XY chromosome in ‘Bridesmaids’ are Jon Hamm who adds another comedic feather into his cap (after a successful stint on 30 Rock) playing the ultimate douchebag while Chris O’Dowd delivers a down to earth performance as the love interest that breaks the mould of clichéd romantic interests by just being a normal nice guy.

After sitting through bland comedies like ‘Hall Pass’ and ‘The Dilemma’ this year it’s refreshing to see something like ‘Bridesmaids’ come along because it’s a comedy that’s actually funny. At times I thought I was going to burst I was laughing so hard. Most of the credit must go to director Paul Feig who has earned his stripes directing a lot of television that includes episodes of the American version of ‘The Office’, ’30 Rock’, ‘Parks and Recreation’, ‘Arrested Development’ and the brilliant short lived series ‘Freaks and Geeks’. Feig makes sure the laughs are big and you can tell he let the cast improvise and experiment with the script. Evidence of this is in the trailer verses the film; you will notice a lot of jokes are different in the trailer or missing from the film entirely which is probably put down to the amount of material Feig had to work with from improvisation, expect a heavily unedited version of the film to be released on DVD and BluRay. Feig also misses a lot of the pitfalls of most wedding films by not glossing over the romantic aspects of the film and instead focusing on the laughs. The clever twist is that underlying the entire film is the great friendship of Annie and Lillian that serves as the beating heart of the film that is packed with just the right amount of emotion. Feig does a great job of balancing the comedy and emotion.

Letting the film down in a big way is the runtime that is stretched to breaking point at just over 2 hours. For a comedy it’s way too long and there are certainly scenes that could have been cut down or taken out of the film that still wouldn’t have hurt the end result. Some jokes drag on way past the punch line and too much time is wasted on Annie’s dead beat unfunny housemates played by Rebel Wilson and Matt Lucas.

‘Bridesmaids’ is the diamond in the rough of a year of some terrible comedies that proves the ladies can deliver the laughs just as big as the boys. A lot of critics are calling this film the female version of ‘The Hangover’ and in many ways it is. ‘Bridesmaids’ took the U.S box office by storm making over 100 million dollars off an estimated 32 million budget, most of the cast are relatively unknown and the story is based around a wedding. Despite those comparisons ‘Bridesmaids’ is a real winner because it taps into the crazy that comes with planning a wedding. It’s the ‘bridezilla’ of wedding movies, prepare for the onslaught of poor imitations.

4/5

The Popcorn Junkie

*FYI: I have been asked to be a groomsmen at a wedding this year and I would like to advise the bride and groom that I am most looking forward to it despite my bad experiences in the past

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