Years ago, Steve Faber and Bob Fisher, the guys who wroteÂ Wedding Crashers , were on a panel at Austin Film Festival. Someone asked them, â€œWhere are the R-rated comedies starring women?â€
Women are usually ancillary characters, hovering in the background, the object of leering or the cause of all the problems in the male characterâ€™s lives. This was only a few years after The Sweetest Thing came out, and since then I suppose Knocked up would count. This year, Kristen Wiig, co-writer Annie Mumalo and director Paul Feig bring us Bridesmaids, a raunchy comedy that proves the ladies can be just as rude and outrageous as the guys.
Wiig plays Annie, a woman whose life has gone way off course. Sheâ€™s lost her bakery business, her boyfriend, and seemingly her self-respect. The movie opens with Annie having ridiculously comic sex with Ted, played with glorious caddishness by Jon Hamm. Ted will have sex with her but he doesnâ€™t like her, but no matter, she doesnâ€™t like herself very much, either. Since everything in Annieâ€™s life must go wrong, her walk of shame from Tedâ€™s house becomes a walk of public humiliation. Annie is having a bad day that has stretched into years.
Lillian (Maya Rudolph), Annieâ€™s best friend, announces her engagement, sending Annie into an existential crisis. Â Not necessarily because she wants to be married, but because her life is falling apart just as Lillianâ€™s is coming together. Annie becomes self-destructive, her actions more and more impulsive with little regard for the consequences. Things get even worse for her when Lillianâ€™s new friend, Helen, gets involved with the wedding planning. Helen is beautiful, rich, and has the perfect life. Helenâ€™s presence makes Annieâ€™s failed attempts at organizing wedding activities more conspicuous by comparison. Their rivalry begins to act as a wrecking ball on Lillianâ€™s wedding, nearly demolishing everything in its path.
Wiig and Mumaloâ€™s script is fairly good and manages to conceal some serious and heartfelt undertones beneath its frothy exterior. The laughs are relentless, and thereâ€™s a decent story to keep you engaged between jokes. Feig directed many episodes of Arrested Development and The Office (US), and brings a great sense of comic timing here. One of the few shortcomings of the movie, though, is that sometimes the funny bits overstay their welcome. There are a couple of times where something moderately funny at first gets run into the ground. At Lillianâ€™s engagement party, Annie and Helen try to one-up each other with toasts becomes a torture session. The second-hand embarrassment factor in this movie is high, but here it is out of control. Judd Apatow was a producer, andÂ Bridesmaids has a few of those Apatow touches. One scene in particular (I wonâ€™t spoil it, but it involves food poisoning and formal attire) is probably going to cause a lot of discussion. Some people are already asking why a movie featuring women has to include a gross out element normally found in â€œguyâ€ movies. Wiig herself has said sheâ€™s ambivalent about it as it was something Apatow insisted they add. Â I myself have nothing to add, except that this particular scene made me laugh like hell, and I am not a fan of gross out humor. The tone can be uneven at times,
I enjoyed the performances in this movie, the actresses all did a wonderful job. Â Wiig, Rudolph, Byrne, and supporting cast Ellie Kemper, Wendi McLendon-Covey, and Melissa McCarthy all fill their roles with a breezy joy that makes this movie so much fun to watch. McCarthy in particular stands out as the groomâ€™s tomboy sister, a woman with no social graces and a foul mouth. Wiigâ€™s Annie is not someone who suffers her trials and tribulations heroically, she very loudly lets everyone know how unhappy she is, and it does not matter if itâ€™s on an airplane in mid-flight or her best friendâ€™s very expensive bridal shower. Annie wants sympathy for her many hardships yet blows every chance given to her earn it, and eventually it costs her a few relationships. She drives away a handsome State Trooper named Rhodes, the anti-Ted, because sheâ€™s not sure she deserves a man that is nice to her.
Make no mistake, this is not a â€œchick flick,â€ though it may be about weddings and bridesmaids. The heart of the movie is about the friendships and rivalries between the women, and how Annie continues to mess up her life regardless of if thereâ€™s a man in it or not. At one point, Rhodes attempts to get her back into baking since thatâ€™s what makes her happy. â€œI donâ€™t need you to â€˜fixâ€™ whatâ€™s wrong with me!â€ she says before storming out. Itâ€™s refreshing, because in a lot of movies about women, apparently it takes a manâ€™s penis to magically change everything in the lead female characterâ€™s life. Here, itâ€™s another woman that literally beats some sense into Annie. Rhodes and Annie also do not have one of those insufferable â€œmeet cuteâ€ moments. They just meet, period. Unfortunately, this is not to say thatÂ Bridesmaidsdoesnâ€™t have some fairly predictable romantic comedy plot elements, but it has something unique to balance it out.