Friday 27 May 2011

Movie Review: Bridesmaids (2011)

A clever chick flick that borrows heavily from raunchy bromedies then dramatically outdoes them, Bridesmaids is a most enjoyable comedy, unique for investing in character development without losing comic momentum. Kristen Wiig of Saturday Night Live co-wrote and stars, and in the process establishes herself as a potential superstar movie comedienne.

Thirty-something Annie (Wiig) lives in Milwaukee, and is finding out what life at rock bottom looks like. Her small bakery business went bankrupt; she is stuck in a dead-end sales job; her room-mates are insufferable; her car is falling apart; and the one man who pays any attention to her uses her purely for sex. Lilian (Maya Rudolph), Annie's best friend since childhood and now working in Chicago, announces that she is getting married, and of course wants Annie to be the Maid of Honour.

Annie gets to know the other bridesmaids, and quickly finds out that Chicago socialite and control-freak Helen (Rose Byrne) also considers herself Lilian's best friend. Helen's life is as perfect as Annie's is shambolic, and the two are immediate frenemies.

Also among the bridesmaids are the stocky and aggressive Megan (Melissa McCarthy), who will become Lilian's sister-in-law; the blonde Rita (Wendy McLendon-Covey), who is stuck in an unhappy marriage, and the naive Becca (Ellie Kemper).

In preparing for the wedding Annie tries to be a good Maid of Honour, but everything she touches turns into an unmitigated disaster, from gown fittings (diarrhea) to the bachelorette trip to Vegas (kicked off the plane), to the shower (destroyed). Annie also manages to sabotage a frail relationship that was developing with police officer Nathan (Chris O'Dowd), who genuinely cares about her.

With the catastrophes mounting and the wedding looming, the friendship between Lilian and Annie is ruptured, and Helen is installed as the new Maid of Honour. Annie needs to find the incentive to pick up the pieces and reassemble her life.

At just over two hours, Bridesmaids is long for a comedy, but director Paul Feig (a veteran of TV sitcoms) uses the time wisely to nourish the characters and the narrative, and the film takes advantage of the available elbow room to work on a variety of levels. Most importantly, it is extremely funny, with some laughs, such as the sequence in the bridal shop, of the side-splitting, rib-cracking variety. Yes the humour is sometimes (or almost always) vulgar and related to body parts and fluids, and the vulgarity works brilliantly.

But the film is successful because it ventures beyond the laughs to create a triangle of stressed friendship between Annie, Lilian and Helen, and the script by Wiig and Annie Mumolo takes the time to probe how people, and therefore what they value in a friend, change over time. And finally Bridesmaids finds a heart by colouring in a lot of distress in the life of Annie, and becoming a rare example of a comedy that provides eloquent context for hilariously anguished behaviour.

A thoughtfully unapologetic romp, Bridesmaids leaves a trail of delectable destruction in its wake.

All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.

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