Issue 12  •  Spring 2013

Film: Bridesmaids Directed by Paul Feig

Written by Anne Vauclain
Bridesmaids.jpgAccording to many in the media, the level of box office success of the new film Bridesmaids is supposed to indicate whether people will actually watch, and draw humor from, a film based around female characters. If anyone is truly surprised that a film co-penned by (and starring) Kristen Wiig, produced by Judd Apatow, and directed by Paul Feig, is actually funny then I would suggest he/she has his/her head examined. The key appeal of Bridesmaids is that it allows us the unmitigated pleasure of spending time with Kristen Wiig and her mostly female cohorts, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Ellie Kemper, and Wendi McLendon-Covey (the ones from the poster with the women all in pink). Oh, and Jon Hamm is there, too!
According to many in the media, the level of box office success of the new film Bridesmaids is supposed to indicate whether people will actually watch, and draw humor from, a film based around female characters. If anyone is truly surprised that a film co-penned by (and starring) Kristen Wiig, produced by Judd Apatow, and directed by Paul Feig, is actually funny then I would suggest he/she has his/her head examined. The key appeal of Bridesmaids is that it allows us the unmitigated pleasure of spending time with Kristen Wiig and her mostly female cohorts, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Ellie Kemper, and Wendi McLendon-Covey (the ones from the poster with the women all in pink). Oh, and Jon Hamm is there, too!

In the film, Wiig’s character, Annie, is asked by her best friend Lillian (Rudolph) to be the maid of honor for her upcoming wedding. Annie’s life is stalled: she’s in a dead-end fling with a sleazy womanizer (Hamm), and her bakery business has closed its doors (a casualty of the recession). When she goes to Lillian’s engagement party, she realizes that she has some stiff competition for Lillian’s (best) friendship, in the form of the beautiful Helen (played by Rose Byrne), the wife of Lillian’s boss. The film explores the ways women have to compete with one another to be the “best” at life—the prettiest, smartest, most “put together,” most supportive (Helen’s ability to throw lavish parties and wear stunning gowns marks her status as “winning,” which means we are supposed to hate her?). A series of mishaps ensue, as Annie tries to out-friend Helen and live up to the maid of honor title, until finally Annie and Lillian’s friendship is seriously strained.

While the movie sometimes feels more like a series of sketches than a full-blown feature film, as a vehicle for watching these women interact, it is highly enjoyable. Wiig is relatable and charming as a “regular gal,” and her signature wacky comedic talents are showcased, such as in one scene, when she has a drunken meltdown on a plane. Wiig and Rudolph seem to have a genuine friendship, and are a great on-screen pair (can we watch them having lunch together more often?). Melissa McCarthy plays the obligatory loudmouth, raunchy sidekick (sort of like a version of Zach Galifianakis in most things), but she brings a dignity to her over-the-top character.
 
Gross-out jokes in the movie seem a bit out of place and were surely added to satisfy the teenage male audience. Additionally, this cast would have been over-the-top amusing without the issue of rivalry imposed onto the story (are women really always adversaries, studio?). The film is best when it lets Wiig and Rudolph (who are like funnier versions of the funniest girls you went to high school with) show their stuff. Hopefully the sequel will include less of what studios think guys want, and even more of what’s genuine and hilarious about the way girls relate.

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