Andy Bockelman: She-power is ever-present in ‘Bridesmaids’
June 1, 2011
3 out of 4 stars
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne and Melissa McCarthy.
Ideally, when all the single women line up after a wedding to catch the bouquet, they have some sense of decorum.
However, if any of the gals from "Bridesmaids" show up at your ceremony, be ready for some hair-pulling, scratching and elbow-throwing.
Annie's (Kristen Wiig) life has been in a constant state of disarray lately.
Her love life involves a one-sided relationship with a beefcake (Jon Hamm) who shows her no respect; her roommates (Matt Lucas, Rebel Wilson) are beyond the normal definition of irritating; and with a bakery business that's gone belly-up, she's broke and working at a jeweler's shop where she sees nothing but happy couples.
The one consolation is that the life of her best friend Lilian (Maya Rudolph) isn't much better.
But, Annie's misery has just lost its company, as Lilian's boyfriend (Tim Heidecker) pops the question. While the idea of being the maid of honor for her lifelong friend brings some brightness to her near future, the lengthy list of matrimonial responsibilities that fall to someone in her position only gets longer and longer.
And, planning wardrobe, a bachelorette party, bridal shower and more with practically no budget is made all the more difficult when Annie has to contend with Helen (Rose Byrne), the runner-up among Lilian's bridesmaids, who's jockeying to move up the ranks.
It's hard to believe that it's taken this long for a movie to come along where Wiig plays the main character and not just a love interest or a minor spot.
It probably didn't hurt that she co-wrote the screenplay, but no matter, since all of her smaller roles have built her up to this starring part, shining strong as well-meaning but self-pitying Annie, who, in spite of her best efforts, can't stop screwing up in her maid of honor duties.
Fellow "Saturday Night Live" funny lady Rudolph is just as good as Lilian, though she's slightly outdone by Byrne as Helen, whose sense of oneupsmanship goes to ridiculous lengths. Does any sensible person throw a party with gift bags that include golden retriever puppies wearing pink berets?
As for the rest of the bridal party, Wendi McClendon-Covey and Ellie Kemper have some good moments as Lilian's sex-starved cousin, Rita, and Lilian's jelly bean-brained work friend, Becca, respectively, but Melissa McCarthy has all the best lines as the bride's sister-in-law-to-be, Megan, an excitable weirdo whose idea of a good bridal shower is to start a female fight club and beat the guest of honor within an inch of her life.
But, even outside those involved with the wedding, there are still laughs to be had, with Hamm playing against his usual sophisticated type as Annie's uncouth, quasi-boyfriend Ted; the late Jill Clayburgh as her oddball mother; and Chris O'Dowd as a traffic cop who actually treats Annie like she's worthwhile, an approach she can't really understand.
Since the main duty of the maid of honor is to reassure the bride on everything leading up to and during the most special day of her life, you couldn't hope for a worse girl for the job than Annie, whose self-esteem has been in freefall for ages.
But, despite her many failures, the desire to stay in her corner is irresistible, especially seeing Wiig and Rudolph carrying on like a pair of old friends.
Wedding preparation already lends itself to plenty of potential humor, but when you factor in a freak-out at 30,000 feet, a set of toasts that resemble a political debate, and the most disgusting, disastrous dress-fitting ever, you've really got something special. But, it goes beyond the boundaries of the average chick flick, as well as the run-of-the-mill gross-out comedy, with a crew of very funny women giving it all they've got in this hilarious tale of friendship, frenemies and ugly carrots.
And, let's not forget the best use of Wilson Phillips' "Hold On" since "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle."
The winning style of "Bridesmaids" lies in its refusal to adhere to the belief that women don't have the same comic capabilities as men.
While there haven't been nearly as many successful comedies predominantly featuring the fairer sex, this laugh-a-minute story is just as welcoming to men as it is to women, especially if you want to see Don Draper steer a car without using his hands.
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