The opening sex scene between Kristen Wiig and Jon Hamm gives the impression that Bridesmaids will be the female counterpart to your typical Judd Apatow comedy. That’s not much of a reach considering Apatow is the producer. As someone who has had a hand in helping shape the careers of Adam Sandler, Steve Carell and Will Ferrell among others, Apatow had a goal in mind with Bridesmaids; he wanted to make Kristen Wiig a star.
Their relationship began easy at first. Wiig played a colleague of Katherine Heigl’s in Knocked Up. Later that year she played Dewey Cox’s jilted ex in the music comedy parody Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. When Apatow asked her to pitch him some script ideas, Wiig, along with her friend Annie Mumolo, spent days locked in a house together with a screenplay-writing book and came up with the story of Bridesmaids, where a woman has a nervous breakdown at the expense of being her best friend’s maid of honor.
Wiig’s character, Annie, is a total mess. Her small dessert business went belly up when the economy started to sour. Her boyfriend left her, she’s almost penniless and she lives in a cramped apartment with an off-the-wall British brother and sister (Matt Lucas, Rebel Wilson). In her 30s, dressing homely and driving a car that looks like it should be impounded, if Annie’s life hasn’t hit rock bottom yet she should be bracing for impact.
Annie’s personal hell, a cesspool of bad decision making – being Jon Hamm’s booty call, for starters – does have one glimmer of hope. Annie is “besties” with Lillian (Maya Rudolph, who is one of Wiig’s real-life BFFs). Growing up together in the ‘90s, their lives were simpatico and still are to a degree. They laugh at the same jokes, have similar music tastes, and even finish each other’s sentences. But the bond they share has strained as their lives veer in different directions. Then Lillian delivers a bombshell. She’s getting married. Annie tries to hide her state of shock, which is quickly masked when Lillian asks her to be her maid of honor.
That may be the setup, but don’t think Bridesmaids is just another clichéd wedding comedy riding on the bridal train of such nuptial duds as Bride Wars and License to Wed. Take the basic ingredients of your typical Judd Apatow comedy cocktail, which mixes two parts raunchiness with one part sentimentality, replace the guys with gals and stir gingerly. The result is a comedy that is at times genuine in its attempts to illustrate female friendship and how insecurity causes the relationship to dissolve. It also maintains the raunchiness we’ve come to expect with Apatow comedies, including one gross-out scene that, while seemingly unnecessary, is still funny.
Compared to the maid of honor, the groom’s best man has it easy. His biggest task is to remember to bring the ring to the wedding. Outside of that, the rest of the responsibilities boil down to planning the bachelor and hiring the cleanest entertainment. The maid of honor, unfortunately, doesn’t have the same luxury. From scheduling dress fittings, sharing lunches with the other bridesmaids, deciding where the bachelorette weekend will take place, the number of responsibilities is maddening. To makes Annie’s situation worse, she has to contend with Lillian’s apparent new BFF Helen (Rose Byrne), who lives a more opulent life than her and is more task-oriented. Annie feels threatened by Helen’s passive-aggressiveness so the two begin a competition of one-up”woman”ship – Helen is doing her best to deflect any influence Annie has as the maid of honor, instead trying to give herself more brownie points with Lillian by taking over other maid of honor functions, like the bridal shower.
Away from wedding duty, Annie is also busy sabotaging her own love life by finding ways to blow it with a local cop, Rhodes (Chris O’Dowd). A bit of a goof, the man is portrayed as the most honest guy in Milwaukee (where the movie is set). He immediately takes a shine to Annie and his own sense of humor complements hers.
Kristen Wiig is the star without a doubt, but she has plenty of help from the other bridesmaids. Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey) is a dissatisfied wife and mother of three. Becca (Ellie Kemper) is a Disney-loving newlywed who has only had one sexual partner in her life – her husband. Neither character is as developed as the rest of the bridal party, but they do get some laughs.
And then there’s Melissa McCarthy as Lillian’s future sister-in-law, Megan. Large and in charge this government employee is brazen in her demeanor. Never at a loss for words when talking sex, she’s also the most assertive bridesmaid of the bunch. McCarthy ultimately steals the comedy in the same fashion that Zach Galifianakis did with The Hangover.
And despite what the advertisements portray, this comedy isn’t a female Hangover. Nor does it try to be a “womance” like the recent staple of bromance comedies. Guys will like it. As for those persnickety viewers that get dragged to it by a friend or relative, they’ll be grateful that the comedy sidesteps Mad Lib insert problem clichés for women (like growing old or needing a baby to feel complete).
Bridesmaids will not put an end to conventional comedies aimed toward females (Kate Hudson loves the paycheck), but it is funny and crude in the way those movies aren’t. Kristin Wiig may be recognized as that comedienne on SNL at the moment, but hopefully the masses will embrace her performance here, because she is good.
Director: Paul Feig Notable Cast: Kristin Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ellie Kemper, Chris O’Dowd, Jon Hamm Writer(s): Kristin Wiig and Annie Mumolo
Travis Leamons is one of the Inside Pulse Originals and currently holds the position of Managing Editor at Inside Pulse Movies. He's told that the position is his until he's dead or if "The Boss" can find somebody better. I expect the best and I give the best. Here's the beer. Here's the entertainment. Now have fun. That's an order!