Thursday, May 19, 2011

Movie Review: Bridesmaids

Annie (Kristin Wiig) and Lillian (Maya Rudolph).
Bridesmaids (2011)
Starring: Kristin Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Chris O'Dowd and Jon Hamm
Screenplay By: Kristin Wiig and Annie Mumolo
Directed By: Paul Feig

This movie is being sold as "the female version of The Hangover." However, it's not as crass and vulgar as the 2009 buddies comedy and places more emphasis on the relationships between the characters involved -- and I think most people will consider that a good thing. Bridesmaids is a good enough film to stand on its own without the help of comparisons to The Hangover. 

Bridesmaids is a fresh and funny take on your average female-bonding flick, which is a welcome change. It's a genuine comedy, not a romantic comedy (although there are elements of romance in the background). There is no sad, 30-something "spinster" woman who spends the entire two hour running time mourning her lack of a boyfriend while forgetting/ignoring all the other great things she has going on in her life (because, apparently, all women do is dream about their wedding day). Kristin Wiig (who co-wrote the script) set out to make a character-driven film about female friendship without falling into tired stereotype traps. Her character may be a little sad -- but sad in a completely charming, likeable and relatable way. 

Annie (Wiig) has a lot of loose ends in her life -- a series of failed commitments have prevented her from ever finding success. Her attempt at running her own bakery backfired, leaving her strapped for cash and having to resort to a job as a sales girl at a jewellery store. On top of all that, Annie's strange British roommates, Brynn and Gil (Rebel Wilson and Matt Lucas), want her out of the house and she's in a dead-end, "no strings attached" relationship with Ted (an uncomfortably creepy, albeit awesome, Jon Hamm). The only respite Annie has from her unhappy situation is her lifelong friendship with Lillian (Maya Rudolph). However, when Lillian reveals that she's getting married and asks Annie to be her maid-of-honour, it forces her to come out of her shell and relate to the "other" women in Lillian's life. The engagement of her closest friend upsets the constancy of Annie's life and she must learn to come to terms with all the changes that come with it. While planning the wedding, Annie must learn to cope with the eclectic group of Lillian's bridesmaids -- the voracious sexual appetite of the groom's sister, Megan (Melissa McCarthy), the timidity of Becca (Ellie Kemper), the brashness of busy working mom, Rita (Wendy McLendon-Covey) and the overbearingly irritating, rich and beautiful "new friend", Helen (Rose Byrne).

The script doesn't give Annie a clear goal -- there are a variety of issues she must combat and, ultimately, her end goal is to simply survive everything involving her personal life and Lillian's wedding. The antics that ensue, which range from the gross to the charming, allow Wiig to show off her comedic chops which, up until now, has only been used in secondary-character roles. A wonderful comedic actress, Wiig plays Annie in such a refreshingly honest (and awkward) way that it's impossible not to root for her. However, she doesn't completely steal the show, letting her co-stars share in the glory, especially the hilarious McCarthy, who plays Megan with such egoless abandon that she almost completely steals the spotlight. Despite all those loose threads in Annie's life, the script throws in one more situation for her to tackle -- her growing affection for a nice-guy Irish cop named Rhodes (Chris O'Dowd). Although some may consider his role unnecessary to the outcome of the film, Rhodes allows Annie to show a softer side to her personality and the chemistry between Wiig and O'Dowd make the whole Annie-Rhodes subplot a welcome addition to an already bloated plot.

Bridesmaids is an incredibly entertaining film that proves that women can be just as funny as men. Despite it's multiple plot threads, it manages to always come back to its main focus -- Annie and her hilarious awkwardness. It's an interesting hybrid of a film, part female-bonding flick, part quirky romance and part gross-out comedy. But, in the end, it's thoroughly enjoyable.