Review: Bridesmaids (2011)

Director: Paul Feig

****

It would be easy to market Bridesmaids as a kind of hen party to counteract The Hangover’s testosterone, but unlike that raunchfest (or its unfortunate sequel), Bridesmaids is a more affectionate and friendly affair. One might be tempted to say it’s more feminine, but then come the drunken antics and disgusting pratfalls, and that description just doesn’t seem to fit anymore.

The most apparent difference between Bridesmaids and The Hangover is that while the latter involved idiots setting out to do stupid things, Bridesmaids sees Annie (Kristen Wiig) become maid of honour for her best friend Lilian’s (Maya Rudolph) impending nuptials. Wiig has one of those adorable faces that elicits sympathy, so when this lovelorn little Bambi encounters resistance/competition from Lilian’s wealthier, snobbier friend Helen (Rose Byrne), Annie must do all she can to make the wedding build-up all the more memorable. Considering the other bridesmaids she has to work with, surely memorability wouldn’t require that much effort. Wendi McLendon-Covey’s bitter housewife and Ellie Kemper’s newlywed innocent have their moments, but Melissa McCarthy threatens to hijack the entire film as Megan, Lilian’s sister-in-law to be, and a farting, swearing disaster area. For all its niceties, Bridesmaids isn’t subtle. There’s shouting, tears and all manner of situations held hostage by OTT bodily functions (a dress fitting being a particular highlight). However, isn’t that to be expected? Judd Apatow is a producer on Bridesmaids, and his template of life lessons being learned over awkward sex/farting/other bodily functions is a proven winner. Annie tries her best but between the wedding planning, a shaky relationship with a traffic cop (Chris O’Dowd) and her dissatisfaction with work, she’s bound to see them all come crashing down. How will she ever recover?! Well, this is rom-com land, so take a guess.

If it doesn’t win points for originality, Bridesmaids more than gets by being simply hilarious. Wiig and Annie Mumolo’s script fizzes with bitchy asides and simple but snigger-inducing setups. From a bizarre opening sex montage with Annie and her jackass sex buddy (Jon Hamm, brilliant as always) to a disastrous flight to Vegas to the climactic bridal shower, Bridesmaids is consistently funny. Veteran TV director Paul Feig (Arrested Development, The Office) leaves the OTT flourishes to the characters. Indeed, what makes Bridesmaids stand out is not just how outrageous these characters can be, but how likeable they are, even when they’re doing less-than-ladylike things. Annie may be a screw-up, but she’s an adorable screw-up. This is Wiig’s first feature script and her first lead role. In both cases, let’s hope it’s not her last, because Bridesmaids is a hoot.

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