September 20, 2011

Bridesmaids (2011)

BACK IN JULY, my wife and I celebrated 14 years of marriage with a week-long getaway (Dash and Jack-Jack enjoyed the spoils of spending the week with my folks).

In addition to the fine dining, gorgeous scenery, soothing atmosphere, and rediscovering each other, we did something we hadn’t done since April’s Win Win: We saw a movie in a theater without the kids.

Down-on-her-luck Annie (Kristen Wiig) is asked by childhood friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) to be maid of honor at Lillian’s wedding. But Annie’s competition with wealthy and beautiful bridesmaid Helen (Rose Byrne) threatens to destroy the engagement party, the bridal shower, the wedding, and even Annie and Lillian’s friendship.


The comedy in Bridesmaids is an effective mix of smart and broad humor, with conversations between the women (especially Annie and Helen) reaching Office-like levels of awkward, cringe-worthy moments.

For the first half of Bridesmaids, Wiig (who co-wrote the script) largely plays the straight role to the punchlines and sight gags happening around her. That thankfully changes halfway through the film, when Wiig gets to show off the comedic chops that made her a star on Saturday Night Live – especially the scene where the bridesmaids fly to Vegas and Annie gets loopy on pills and booze during the flight.

The stellar supporting cast includes The Office’s Ellie Kemper as a sexually repressed newlywed, Wendi McLendon-Covey as a sex-craving wife and mother, Mad Men’s Jon Hamm as Annie’s ongoing, regrettable hook-up, and Rose Byrne as Annie’s passive-aggressive nemesis Helen, a trophy wife who’s trying to wrest the title of Lillian’s BFF away from Annie. And Chris O’Dowd, as a cop who falls for Annie, is both funny and charming, eliciting quite a few “awwww” moments from my wife.

But the hands-down scene-stealer in Bridesmaids is Mike and Molly’s Melissa McCarthy as the profane, ambitious, inappropriate bridesmaid Megan. McCarthy’s delivery of lines such as “You feel that heat? It’s coming from my undercarriage” are worth the ticket price alone.

I hope I’ve made a good case to male readers to see this very funny comedy. But lest the women think it’s just a riotous raunchfest, I want my wife to explain how well Wiig and co-writer Annie Mumolo capture the female dynamic:

“This movie nails what it’s like for a woman when she feels like she’s competing with someone over a friend – especially some newcomer who thinks they know your lifelong friend better than you do.”

A few nits: Bridesmaids clocks in at over two hours, about 20 minutes longer than the sweet-spot running time for any comedy. Most of that extended time can be credited to several false finishes; each time you think you’ve seen the final confrontation or resolution, another one follows it. Also, there’s an ongoing theme surrounding Annie’s out-of-business bakery that’s never resolved. And a cheesy surprise cameo at the end has producer Judd Apatow’s fingerprints all over it.

Bridesmaids really is the best of both worlds: It’s a no-holds-barred, proudly R-rated comedy for the guys, and a well-written, terrifically acted female ensemble piece for the girls. It’s available on DVD, Blu-ray, and VOD starting today; make a point to see it.


Is it suitable for your kids?
Bridesmaids is rated R for “some strong sexuality, and language throughout.” There are several scenes of graphic, aggressive (yet nudity-free) sex; lots of explicit language and frank dialogue about sexual acts and bodily functions; and a brief scene of Wiig topless, with her hands over her breasts.

Will your FilmMother want to watch it?
Absolutely. In addition to laugh-out-loud dialogue and antics, Bridesmaids effectively portrays the relationships between women in all levels of friendship, from childhood best friends to casual acquaintances to oil-and-water mismatches. As long as your FilmMother can laugh at some scatological, sex-based, foul-mouthed humor, she’ll love Bridesmaids.

Say cheese! Or is it cake...? Chocolate...?

* Director: Paul Feig
* Screenwriters: Annie Mumolo, Kristen Wiig
* Stars: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Chris O'Dowd, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ellie Kemper, Jon Hamm, Jill Clayburgh, Kali Hawk
* MPAA Rating: R

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Budd said...

I have this one on queue at the library.

James (SeattleDad) said...

Wow a rom com we haven't seen and one that is actually good to boot? Going on our list.

Cinema Du Meep said...

I really enjoyed Bridesmaids. Very funny, and also a surprising character study. Glad you liked it!


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