Bridesmaids is the culmination of some of comedy’s greatest rising female talent. The film was written by former The Groundlings members Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig. Wiig, perhaps best known for her work on Saturday Night Live, stars as Annie, a 30-something year old single woman whose life begins to fall apart while her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) announces her engagement and asks Annie to be her maid of honour. While Annie hits rock bottom (she lives with strange brother and sister duo Gil [Matt Lucas] and Brynn [Rebel Wilson], works at a jewellery store her mother’s Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor owns, and struggles to form a meaningful relationship with her “fuck buddy” Ted [Jon Hamm]), she is faced with the lavish and glorious lifestyle that Lillian now lives.
Annie’s fellow bridesmaids include Lillian’s sexually bored cousin Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey), who notes that her teenage-boy households leaves so much semen around the house she could “crack a blanket in half”, newlywed Becca (Ellie Kemper), future sister-in-law and scene stealer Megan (Melissa McCarthy) and apparent rival for Lillian’s friendship, Helen (Rose Byrne). As Annie attempts to complete her maid of honour pre-wedding duties, her financial and social status is in conflict with the extravagant lifestyle Lillian is marrying into.
A lot has been written concerning the audience perception and projection and whether a man sees a film the same way a woman sees a film. My lack of vagina did not make this film any less funny. Scenes that are claimed to be intended to draw in male viewers (such as the scene in which the girls get food poisoning before attending a dress fitting) were actually some of the less enjoyable moments of the film. Perhaps I am desensitized to vulgarity and raunchiness, but I found the film contained neither in the proportions being touted around. The film, like other Judd Apatow produced films, works because it takes the time to get involved in the emotional lives of the characters, providing them with the ability to show depth and development. To claim the film as a female version of The Hangover is to ignore the fact that film goes beyond a simple mishap comedy. It goes beyond a romantic comedy in which the characters are unlikable and predictable. It goes beyond a chick flick not in its inclusion of perceived “toilet humour”, but in the fact that the failing life Annie experiences are events that many men have also experienced. True, bride-specific mishaps such as wedding showers have not befallen many men, but feelings of inadequacy, defeat and despair are universal, even with a strong support system of family and friends behind you.
The two breakout stars of the film are Melissa McCarthy and Chris O’Dowd, who plays Annie’s cop love interest Rhodes. McCarthy has shaped Megan into one of the most hilarious characters I’ve seen on screen that I can recall while O’Dowd demonstrates the comedic everyman, the anti-“rom-com” pretty boy that relies on his chiseled jaw to get the girl, but instead wins her through his humour, wit and charm. His character is a gender role reversal from expectations – it is he who must wait for Annie to realize what’s in front of her, an experience I’m certain more than a couple of guys have had to deal with.
Bridesmaids is directed by Paul Feig and is rated 14A.