Bridesmaids (2011) Review
In the trifecta of the lovely SNL ladies, I’ll admit that Kristen Wiig was always the one that slipped under the radar for me. Sure, I knew who she was and enjoyed watching her in the occasional skit, but with Tina Fey and Amy Poher getting their own shows and making it big in a few movies, Wiig seemed almost destined to live in their shadow. But with Bridesmaids, Wiig positions herself as a comedic rival to her sister SNL stars.
Down on her luck Annie (Kristen Wiig) is selected as the maid of honor for her best friend Lillian’s (Maya Rudolph) wedding. But when Helen (Rose Byrne) begins running every aspect of the wedding, Annie feels obliged to outdo the mild-mannered, well-to-do bridesmaid. Along the way, fellow bridesmaids Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey), Becca (Ellie Kemper) and Megan (Melissa McCarthy) are caught up in-between the crossfire.
The script by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo sports a strong set of female ensemble characters that are funny, complex and compelling to watch. While some border on stereotypes, particularly Rita, the weary housewife that fantasizes about other men, and Becca, the peppy newlywed, each character has another layer beneath them that makes the initial impression not necessarily the lasting one.
Bridesmaids is a film that shows the more complex side of women instead of simply displaying them as bags of emotions. These characters have ambitions, dreams and ideas about the world that go beyond romantic life. I hesitate to call the film feminist, if only because I feel certain strains of feminism will dislike the film for still ending in romance and also having Annie be a pastry baker, but personally, I think it does a good job of contrasting traditional female roles with a more progressive idea of what women can be.
While the film nails the character elements, it suffers from being yet another one of those comedies that insists on being fowl-mouthed and crass, hoping shock value will be able to elicit some laughs. For some reason, it seems the R-rated comedy must have an obligatory vomit joke and poop joke and Bridesmaids decides to combine the two into a painfully unfunny joke.
The film also suffers from some comedic pacing issues. While there’s a lot of smart, swift and snappy jokes, Wiig’s performances can’t sustain some of the lengthy gags. An extended scene of her trying to top one of the other bridesmaids with a speech and her attempt to sneak into first class goes quickly from initially funny to aggressively awkward and embarrassing before the gag finally runs out of steam and dies.
That being said, I have to say the big surprise of the movie is that I dug the Melissa McCarthy character. While on first impression she’s the obligatory crass friend, she delivers some of the best-written jokes in the film and her character actually ends up being more interesting than those silly trailers would leave you to believe. Plus, she tries to seduce a man with food. Ladies, take note.
While Bridesmaids doesn’t always work as a comedy, the writing and characters are strong enough to make up for it. The film still falls into the R-rated comedy stereotypes that drag the genre down, but it also has some smarty, non-bodily humor related jokes to balance it out. It’s the intelligent character writing that really shines here, making the film watchable and entertaining in spite of poor comedic decisions.