Always the “Bridesmaids” (A Review)

An audience’s reaction to comedic material is purely subjective. What one person views as a side-splitting comedy, another person can view as tedious.

As a result, I have found that relying on reviews of comedies to be a very tricky business. And as a result, I generally do not “recommend” many comedies either.

So for this weekend’s screening of Bridesmaids, I decided ahead of time to go into it with as little information as possible. No reviews, previews, or trailers – nothing except the movie poster, which I could not avoid in New York City. I even managed to dismiss the From the Makers Of … tagline sitting atop the poster. I pushed the envelope even further by seeing Bridesmaids by myself – realizing that often what makes a film so much fun to watch in the cinema is reacting to how others around you.

All of these factors in consideration, I would have to say that it was a film that exceeded my expectations and I found myself laughing quite often.

Story wise, the plot is pretty straightforward – “bestest,” oldest friends Annie and Lilian (played by Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph, respectively) are on very separate life trajectories. Wiig is a failed entrepreneur forced to live with a pair of odious siblings (Matt Lucas and Rebel Wilson). As goes with someone whose life is headed in a southward path, she also has “relationship issues.” Lilian, on the other hand, is a bit more stable and very early on, announces that she is engaged. As her oldest friend, Annie is immediately appointed the maid of honor. At the engagement party, we are eventually introduced to the remaining bridal party. It reads like this:

  • The Bored Housewife, Rita (played by Wendy Mclendon-Covey)
  • The boorish sister-in-law, Megan (Melissa McCarthy)
  • The “Disney” princess, Becca (Ellie Kemper)
  • The Stepford Wife and “new” best friend, Helen (Rose Byrne)

The establishment of this Motley Crew sets the stage for a series of events at which I found myself laughing consistently. And beyond the laughs, there is an emotional heart dealing with issues of friendships, fear of failure and finding our place in the world, even for those in our 30’s.

As an engaging side story to the wedding events, Annie enters a world of new romantic complications with a Wisconsin State Trooper (Chris O’Dowd).

Of course this is not a film without flaw. At over 2 hours in length, several scenes could have been excised without sacrificing story. On the other hand, these scenes did deliver the laughs they promised.

The ensemble cast, led by Wiig and Rudolph were obviously having a blast while making the film. In the cameo/supporting category, Jon Hamm is good/loathsome as a rakish-Don Draper type, circa 2011. On a more touching note, it was nice to see Jill Clayburgh in her final screen credit as Wiig’s mother.

The story was co-written by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolu and directed by Paul Feig whose background is mostly in television productions as a writer, director and actor. Bridesmaids is Feig’s third feature film.

Just based on the poster, it is obvious that the movie-marketing machine were positioning this film a female version of The Hangover. On a practical level I get it – it is sort of a Netflix promotional indexing system (“if you loved X, you will definitely like Y”). However, that calculus does not always work and in a worst-case scenario can confuse (and even turn away) a potential viewer. So one piece of advice I can offer is to try to watch a film, in this case, a comedy, based on its own merits.

If you are looking for a funny night out with the girls (or guys) see Bridesmaids. You might be surprised.