It’s odd how rare and unexpected female comedies are nowadays, with Judd Apatow‘s R-rated stamp on every joke, and bro-mance films like The Hangover raking in millions, women are usually never the prominent lead in anything remotely funny. Sure Tina Fey is around, but her style of humor is more sensible and playfully witty compared to resorting to utter swear words in an uncontrollable manner.
The only actress now with the talent to step foot in R-rated territory and come out looking good would have to be SNL alumni Kristen Wiig. Her solid track record of cameos and small roles in films for the last two years has always generated laughter and her time on television has made her a prominent force in comedy. Truth be told, without Wiig, SNL would lose its momentum and suffer a crippling lose that’s only happened in the past when the likes of Will Ferrell or Jimmy Fallon left the show.
Her raw expression to balance physical gags with sheer perfect comedic timing makes her an asset that’s not used too much in Hollywood as of late. With Bridesmaids, Wiig finally has the chance to prove herself beyond her keen comedic chops where she’s tasked with leading a large female cast and holding the film together emotionally. Not only does she succeed but the film itself is a hilarious experience and in terms of fresh content, is bound to surpass The Hangover Part II as this year’s best ensemble comedy.
As far as plot goes, Bridesmaids sticks to the routine formula of following the craziness leading up to a big wedding and the inevitable horrors of those involved, What makes the film so much fun is getting primarily involved with the female characteristics of the wedding by spending time with the women caught up in it. These include the bride (Maya Rudolph), her maid of honor (Wiig), and of course the bridesmaids (Rose Byrne, Ellie Kemper, Melissa McCarthy and Wendi McLendon-Covey).
It’s not a chick flick however; don’t be fooled by the commercials because it’s as foul as anything Apatow’s ever produced. The script does a good job of staying on course without delving into tasteless territory that seems too extreme. Aside from a disgusting but physically outrageous scene concerning vomit and gown fittings, most of the film’s humour relies on comedic delivery and clever dialogue.
Bridesmaids really shines in the performances that grow beyond the image of women doing and saying nasty things. Each of the women has their own persona with different tweaks making them stand apart from one another and portray a natural chemistry that’s unforced. There are scenes where certain reactions from the characters (especially McCarthy) are laugh out loud funny due to the situations these unique personalities continuously get dragged into.
Even the romantic interest for Wiig proves to be interesting with a likable male co-star Chris O’Dowd that is genuine enough to be a believable match for her. Jon Hamm also pops up in an extended cameo as Wiig’s on-again off-again boyfriend, who is as sincere as male chauvinistic pigs get. Judging by his time on SNL, it seems Hamm loves the chance to jump into comedy and his limited screen time is certainly a highlight. His demeaning character is further evidence that this is not a movie even remotely modeled as resembling a romance.
The glue that holds everything together is Wiig. Her plucky attitude and generally understandable demeanour is always apparent throughout the film, it makes her an amiable presence to get attached to. As an actress, Wiig has the capacity to make a truly awkward person somewhat lovable by adding subtle details, showing her as more of a human being with real flaws than just an interesting written character.
In a time where female leads are not only almost extinct but also designed to be considerably shallower than any male, it’s invigorating to see an experienced actress cover so much ground in a film that doesn’t require her to do so. Wiig deserves the credit along with her female co-stars, with each bridesmaid being just as fleshed out as she is. Byrne revels in playing the bitchy princess vying for the maid of honor status and McCarthy is hysterical as a confident package of raw grit.
Kemper and Covey are also standouts, adding more depth and unexpected edges to the group. Rudolph does an excellent job as the bride going through a hell but at the same time enjoying the absurdity of it all. This role would have been ruined if it was played in a vain expression by Rudolph, but instead her good natured honesty solidifies the friendship that bonds all the women together.
Bridesmaids is a success for multiple reasons. It’s an original concept for such a traditional storyline and a great example of the difference a good movie can make where the central characters are not only all women, but well-developed ones too. It’s also an extremely funny comedy that appeals to pretty any crowd out there and has every ingredient required for a memorable time at the movies. Wiig gives a fantastic performance along with the rest of the crew who all make the film breeze by.
With such high expectations for laughs this summer from men, disappointment is inevitable and to be expected. But Bridesmaids is a reminder that fresh content is still alive and well, especially when it’s delivered by a group of talented actresses eager to prove their worth in the world of comedy.