BRIDESMAIDS (15): On General Release Friday 24th June
2011 has been a bit slow so far for blockbuster comedies with The Hangover Part II and Bad Teacher failing to tickle many funny bones. Bridesmaids goes a long way to redress the balance as it’s a frequently hilarious gem with well-crafted and likable characters.
Kristen Wiig plays Annie, a single thirty-something who works in a retail job she hates and is desperately trying to convince herself that she’s satisfied with the casual relationship she has with the hunky but uninterested Ted (Jon Hamm).
When her childhood best friend Lil (Maya Rudolph) announces that she’s getting married, Annie is the natural choice for the maid of honour but it brings to a head all of her insecurities. Things get worse when she’s threatened to be upstaged by one of Lillian’s new friends, Helen (Rose Byrne), a disgustingly opulent rich bitch with a neat line in waspish backhanded compliments.
Kristen Wiig is a talented comedy writer, actress and SNL veteran who is frequently the best thing about the movies she’s in and for far too long she’s been inexplicably kept in supporting roles. Bridesmaids is her first lead role and she’s crafted a movie which is fast-paced, sharply witty and worthy of her formidable talents.
A particularly vulgar scene following a bout of food poisoning is laugh-out-loud funny but admirably well restrained; a reminder of the hit comedies of The Farrelly Brothers when they were still funny (i.e. about 10 years ago). But while that might bring unexpectedly ribald laughs, it’s not the only string it has to its bow; there’s some cracking character-based comedy here.
A calamitous drunken plane ride; a disastrous engagement party speech and a scene in which Annie gives a piece of her mind to a particularly snotty customer will have audiences in stitches. They’re well-observed slices of humour which play on the expectations of ladylike behaviour, social conventions and the trials of friendship – a pitch perfect Rose Byrne excels at being hatefully over-achieving but also believably human.
The overweight and oversexed Megan (Melissa McCarthy) gets most of the supporting laughs but there are some great turns from Wendi McLenvon-Covey and Ellie Kemper – it’s a shame that some their stories aren’t fleshed out a little further.
There are one or two hiccups. There’s really no need for a shoe-horned romantic subplot involving Chris O’Dowd’s traffic cop (although he gives the best exasperated “fuckin’ hell” ever seen on camera), nor for her bitchy British roommates (Matt Lucas and Rebel Wilson with a very peculiar stab at an English accent). There’s also a tendency for scenes to go on a little bit longer than necessary and a disappointing detour into “group hug” territory in the final segment – familiar problems with much of Judd Apatow’s canon (who is producing here).
But these are minor blips for a film which provokes more laughter in its 125 minutes than other 2011 comedies have done in their entire combined running times – It’s not often you find a comedy that can make you laugh, really laugh till popcorn comes out of your nose and that’s a huge achievement.
The standard’s been set; it’ll be a tough one to beat.