G-S-T Review…Bridesmaids

The female ‘The Hangover‘ this is not. And this film, which is a lot cuter and heartfelt than you’d expect, is probably getting a lot of steam based on that misconception. Make no mistake, anyone wanting a raunchy female comedy will get their money’s worth as this is a laugh riot. But hidden amongst the girl crazy antics is a sweeter film than expected. Moreover, what looks like a crazy series of events befalling all 6 members of the bridal party is really about Wiig, Rudolph and Byrne. Its a mostly endearing film that plays fairly to both male and female audiences and that’s a rare feat in film these days.

SNL comic wiz Kristin Wiig plays Annie a woman who is elated to be maid of honor to her best friend Lillian. But that joy turns sour as every step closer to the wedding she’s being helplessly upstaged by another bridesmaid Helen and  now Annie feels she’s losing her best friend. Worse yet is that the wedding planning, which should be loads of fun is actually affecting her life in very unfortunate and negative ways. She loses her job, find out the guy she’s sort of dating is a real jerk, her roommates kick her hour, she movies in with her mom, then meets a nice guy but pushes him away. But while in that downward spiral she might be content to have a “pity party”, one of her new friends (played gruff and brilliantly by Melissa McCarthy) helps her get back on her feet. So while life isn’t always roses and doves, as she has seen first hand, she gets back to trying to right the ship and get her friend back.

Wiig has a relatability that you can almost touch. Sure things are going super wrong for her and in a scene where she seems to channel Lucille Ball goes off the handle when she reaches the boiling point, she still conveys real emotion. That’s refreshing as all her previous work was about as over the top and off putting as it comes. Have to say I found her performance and wit sharp and hysterical.

As Wiig and Rudolph are old friends she wrote the parts specifically for them and it shows. A good portion of the film was just those two having fun being friends and you can imagine that’s probably how they are in real life as all those scenes seemed effortlessly and possibly ad-libbed. Further I wouldn’t be surprised if they were really outtakes put in place of the scripted material because it worked better.

The one draw back to this apparent ensemble female comedy flick is the unfortunate lack of the Bridesmaids as a group. It’s pretty one sided either focusing on Wigg/Rudolph. Sure all of the girls are thrown together because of the wedding but while each actress is know for a comedy background and certainly has a knack for it (including WendiMcLendon-Covey and even Ellie Kemper), we don’t get as much screen time as thetrailes would lead us to believe. The dress fitting scene followed by the airplane ride was about as close to a comedy troupe performance as we got…and that lasted about 8 of the 125 minute run-time. Please Wiig, can we have some more ensemble antics?

Now aside from the female cast there are three male lead/supporting characters help balance the estrogen heavy film. Jon Hamm, in his few scenes, proves to be a jerk that helps Wigg come to a realization about herself (yes, even in a rom-com you need a heavy). Its a far cry from his Don Draper but here he shows he can handle slight humor. But the two fine characters helping pepper this comedy are UK comedians Chris O’ Dowd (The IT Crowd) and Matt Lucas (Little Brittan). It’s great to see them both get some much needed publicity because they are too funny across the pond to not make their names know in the US. Still don’t have the charisma or notoriety here to carry a film all on their own but it’s refreshing to see how UK humor can add to American comedies.

G-S-T RULING:

Can’t say I would have expected to laugh this much and so far Bridesmaids is my most unexpectedly surprising movie of 2011. Not saying I loved it or it’s the best to date but I would gladly see it again. 2 hours seems a long time especially for what is essentially a “chick flick” but they needed all that time to crame in some simply hysterical jokes. It does feel longer than it is as the film at times has trouble feeling like a cohesive story where consistency is about as present as a reasonably priced Bridesmaid dress. Wiig is a sketch artist and as the writer of this story she writes in the language she knows…2 minute sequences. Thankfully that pattern starts to disappear near the second act and becomes a feature length film. This certainly looks hopeful for Wiig’s future endeavors and takes her one confident step closer to leaving SNL behind…but with a future in film brighter than Chris Kattan that’s for sure.