Thursday, 16 June 2011

Review of 'Bridesmaids' (Paul Feig, 2011)

Synopsis: Down-on-her-luck Annie becomes maid of honour for her best friend Lillian’s wedding. Fighting and bonding with the other bridesmaids, Annie attempts to deliver the best wedding she can.

Kristen Wiig is officially a comedy Goddess. The co-writer and star of Bridesmaids takes centre stage after years on American television’s Saturday Night Live and being sidelined with smaller roles in recent comedies like Paul and Date Night. Here she is barely off screen and is a hysterical joy to watch throughout. Funnier than the entire cast of The Hangover (either of them), she would be enough to single-handedly split your sides, but with an ensemble this brave and funny and writing this hilarious, Bridesmaids is a laugh-out-loud comedy that deserves to rule this summer. The sisters are doing it for themselves!

Bridesmaids is very rude, occasionally very sweet and often ass-clenchingly awkward. If you think gross-out comedy belongs to boys, wait till you see these girls at their dress fitting. If you think men being mean to women is funny, wait till you see it as written by a couple of women. If you think the writer/producers of films like The Hangover push the boundaries of taste, wait till you see these girls get angry. But most of all if for some reason you think women, can’t be funny, give yourself a slap and go see this film!

The story might follow a fairly conventional path with the romantic-comedy trimmings resulting in an ending that lacks much surprise. However the narrative is tightly constructed and Annie really ‘hits bottom’ (allowing for countless awkward and self-deprecating moments) before the film delivers its predictable resolution. The script is brilliantly written with a touching and believable relationship between the two best friends, Annie and Lillian. The comic set-pieces escalate in a consistently hysterical fashion, standouts being the dress fitting and a plane journey that allows Wiig to show off what a gifted comedy performer she is. The script crackles with witty and memorable dialogue, much of it delivered by Wiig, but the supporting cast all get their own moments to shine as realistic and funny characters.

The best reason to see this film is Wiig. There is nothing she won’t do in this film for a laugh. Whether it’s flailing her legs in the air in the opening sex scene, toilet humour, acting drunk, selfishly ruining parties, or swearing at a young woman, all vanity is left behind. Wiig’s performance is consistently hilarious. As writer she has rightly put herself up-front, giving her a vehicle to finally show off her comedic prowess. The supporting cast are excellent with particular standouts being Melissa McCarthy as Megan (in another unflinchingly funny/awkward performance) and Chris O’Dowd as a sweet cop. However despite the presence of a couple of male British TV stars (O’Dowd and Matt Lucas), the women get all the best lines and even Matt Lucas is totally outshone by his look-a-like ‘sister’ in the film. All give solid, believable and occasionally completely over the top performances, but they are anchored by a sweet script that (like so many other Judd Apatow produced/directed movies) isn’t afraid to poke and prod at the state of people trapped in unhappy marriages.

Paul Feig directs effectively, drawing riotous performances from the cast and keeping the pace brusque throughout. Like many recent comedies that are produced, directed or executive produced by Apatow, the film is over two hours, but unlike some others, Bridesmaids does not drag or sag after the half way mark and its story feels full and not overburdened by an abundance of improvisation.

The film is a sweet look at female friendships, the madness that surrounds wedding preparation and could be seen to deal with the pressures put on modern women to conform, succeed (in both love and career) and above all get married! Wiig’s loveable loser clearly does not have enough respect for herself and the audience will find themselves rooting for her to make big changes in her life. However Bridesmaids is a comedy; there’s no message of self-empowerment and marriage and heterosexual romance are still held as the aspiration for modern women.

Aside from the overly familiar romantic comedy elements the film should be enjoyed for the hilarious script and the performance of a brilliant ensemble of very funny, very entertaining women. It is hugely refreshing to see a film with female performers totally lacking in vanity that is this rude, this vulgar and this amusing. Written by women, starring mostly women but aimed squarely at both men and women, Bridesmaids deserves to be a huge comedy hit.