Friday, July 15, 2011

Bridesmaids Wiig Out Under Pressure.


It is amazing how fickle the business of film can be. Studios executives and Hollywood pundits are constantly talking about a film’s success in regards to dollar values. Yet they consistently are surprised when certain films, that they show little faith in, get big numbers at the box office. The funny thing is that many of these" surprise hits" are not surprises at all. Take Bridesmaids for example, it has been called the sleeper hit of the summer, but is it really that much of a “sleeper”? You would think Hollywood would learn from the success of the Sex in the City films, Titanic, Dear John, The Blindside, The Twilight franchise, and almost every single Tyler Perry film that women are big cinema goers. They always have been and, just like their male counterparts, they crave a good story with identifiable characters.

Written by, and starring, Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids is a comedy that looks how life can alter friendships in the most unexpected ways. Annie (Wiig) and Lillian (Maya Rudolph) have been best friends since they were children. Annie’s life has been in a tail spin ever since her bakery business closed down. Working at a job she hates, and in a “friends with benefits” type of relationship with Ted (John Hamm), Lillian is the only uncomplicated thing in Annie’s life until she announces that she is engaged. Annie then finds herself in the Maid of Honor role responsible for planning the Bachelorette Party for Lillian and the rest of the bridesmaids. Lillian’s bridesmaids include Helen (Rose Bryne) who is the wife of Lillian’s fiancé’s boss, Lillian’s future sister-in-law Megan (Melissa McCarthy), Lillian’s jaded cousin Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey), and her naive friend Becca (Ellie Kemper). As the cost surrounding the wedding events continue to rise, Annie struggles to fulfill her Maid of Honor duties for fear of not only disappointing Lillian, but of being usurped by Helen who is itching to replace Annie as Lillian’s number one friend.

Bridesmaids is a film that delivers the laughs without sacrificing the story. Sure it may not be the laugh-a-minute film that the hype may have led some to believe but, when the jokes hit the mark, there is plenty to smile about. While Melissa McCarthy has been getting all the praise, and rightfully so, for her scene stealing work as Megan, I thought that John Hamm and Kristen Wiig were extremely good as well. As Ted, Hamm has some hilariously sleazy lines that had me howling with laughter. Kristen Wiig shows that she is capable of carrying a film. Not only does she hit all the right comedic notes but she manages to keep her character grounded in reality despite all the craziness that occurs in the film. It is not only a reflection of Wiig’s talent as an actress but her skilful writing as well.

Wiig’s script is not only well written and manages to capture the complexities of female friendship. Especially in regards to how situational female bonds can be. Annie and Lillian are friends who have built a bond since they were children yet, in many ways, Annie is replaced by Helen long before the insanity ensues. Lillian and Helen are only friends because their husbands roam in the same circles. She is drawn to Helen, the very type of person she used to despise. Annie is essentially pushed aside for a woman Lillian has only known for a few months.

My only real complaint with the film is that Megan, while funny, is given the worst outfits. I understand that Megan is rough around the edges but her character looks awful even by tomboy standards. You would think Hollywood would have evolved from the “she is fat, so she is sloppy” style of humour. It would have been better had McCarthy been given a reasonable fashion sense like the rest of the characters. Especially considering what her character reveals about herself in the last act. Also, another minor gripe is that, the arc between Rita and Becca is completely dropped once the airplane scene ends. In fact they are barely seen at all in the second half of the film.

Minor issues aside, I had a good time watching Bridesmaids. It did not have me crying with laughter like I had expected, but it was a very good film nonetheless. It is one of the few recent comedies that I foresee holding up well upon repeat viewings.


  1. Sorry, but I'm going to have to disagree here. I thought the film was the worst edited movie I've seen since Wild Wild West (which is saying something), with at least three characters too many (the landlord, his sister, and the shrewish bridesmaid), and the jokes flat out unfunny. A complete waste of Maya Rudolph.
    It seemed pretty clear to me that a great deal of footage was shot, and then edited down as best they could to fit into the movie's runtime. Whole strands were left unexplained and not followed up.

  2. Great review! Though there are bits and pieces (like most films) that left me wanting, overall, this was a very enjotable film. I laughed LOUDLY in the theatre, which is a rare thing for me. It is nice to see a film led by smart, multi-dimensional, funny, flawed women. And as far as Megan's dress code, well, she was decidedly "unsexy" but it's never an issue with the other women. Or the other men. Kind of awesome, really, that a woman's appearance was not once the focal point of any conversation. Word!

  3. This is a film that really did have me laughing even though it was a bit over-long and felt like another Judd Apatow comedy, with just chicks. But still a funny one. Good Review!

  4. You're right about Megan. McCarthy's character in Mike and Molly have the same strands of brashness and yelling, but at least she's allowed to look pretty there. In Bridesmaids she only has two 'pretty' scenes. It's like all of them have fashion forward moments unlike her.

    And the film does feel uneven. Even if all parts of it felt like it's from the same movie, the middle part felt too depressing for a comedy.

  5. @Colin - While agree Maya Rudolph is under used in the film. I did not think the editing was as bad as you. Granted two Bridesmaids get dropped from the film altogether, yet I did not think the editing was as bad as something like The Wild Wild West.

    @Sarp - Good point, none of the other characters even acknowledge Megan's wardrobe in the film. They just act as if it is the norm.

    @Dan O - Yep it does feel like a classic Apatow but just with women. Still it was one of the better Apatow films of late.

    @Paolo - I guess Hollywood still is a step behind when it comes to certain body types. Also, the film does have its slow spots but I did not find it as bothersome as others did.

  6. I don't know, I liked it but I can't agree that Wiig's script is well written. It has some beautiful moment, but it could have done with some tighter editing. But, the acting overall is fine.

    (Jill Clayburgh is lovely in those few scenes.)

  7. @Andrew - Jill Clayburgh was rather enjoyable. I expected her character to have a much bigger role than she did.

    As for the script, I found that Wiig really nailed to dynamics of female friendship. Plus it was never overly sappy which often occurs in films like this.


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