While I am a movie fan, I’m not normally inclined to give reviews. For the most part I agree with the mainstream opinions of movies and am content to let other, more skilled, writers have their say.
But every now and then a movie makes such an impression on me that I feel the need to sing its praises. So, yes, this is going to be a positive review, so if that’s all you needed to know, or if you disagree, feel free to stop reading now. Otherwise, let the love-fest begin!
I’ve always enjoyed the Judd Apatow produced comedies as they tend to have a lot more depth of character than you usually get. The characters, however bizarre, have a touch of humanity that greatly elevates them above the 2-dimensional one joke caricatures that you find in most comedies these days. But Bridesmaids put them all to shame. In a movie marketplace where the female characters are almost always some variation of man-obsessed arm candy, the characters in Bridesmaids, at least the principals, have a depth and range worthy of a serious drama, Kristina Wigg in particular.
A quick summary for those unfamiliar with the movie: Annie, (Kristen Wigg), and Lillian, (May Rudolph) have been best friends from childhood. Then one day Lillian tell Annie she’s engaged and asks if Annie will be her Maid of Honor. Complications ensue as Anne encounters Lillians new friend, the beautifully, rich and apparently perfect Helen, (Rose Byrne) who seems determined to politely upstage Annie’s efforts. In the background of this central conflict, a covey of bridesmaids, (Ellie Kemper, Wendi McLendon-Covey and the hilarious Melissca McCarthy), play comedic back-up vocals. If this plot sounds stale and typical to you, it is. It’s nothing that hasn’t been done a hundred times before, ad nauseum, and the inability of the trailers to portray much beyond this basic idea is why so many people, generally guys, are willing to write it off as just another chick-flick/rom-com.
But what Bridemaids provides is some of the best comedy I’ve seen since Hangover, (a film with which Bridesmaids is frequently compared). The laugh out loud moments are frequent and hilarious. The jokes range from the low-brow, (no shortage of poop and drunk jokes here), to the refined, (passive aggressive bitchiness abounds), but strung through it all is a cord of humanity and love that keeps it all firmly rooted to the ground. Nothing feels out of place or trite here, every joke springs naturally out of the characters, who are deep and interesting enough that you actually care what happens to them.
Helen, (Wiig), is an actress I’ve never taken much notice of before, but when she’s given free reign, (she co-wrote the screenplay), she’s one of the funniest screen presences I’ve seen in years. Her character initially appears to be you typical sad-sack protagonist. Everything that can happen to her, has. She’s lost her dream business, she’s in a dead-end relationship of the worst sort, (F**k buddy #3), her roommates are truly awful, and she’s about to lose her best friend. But through it all she keeps going, while the anguish she’s feeling is subtly conveyed through Wiig’s masterful acting abilities, there’s an inner core of strength to the character that’s impressive to watch. It’s miles beyond the sad-face/grim look of determination acting you normally see on actresses playing out these sorts of roles. Wiig almost never looks like she’s winning, she looks like she’s surviving, which is far more interesting to watch.
The two other performances particularly worth noting are Rose Byrne as Helen and Melissa McCarthy as the “wacky” bridesmaid. Once again, where stereotypes would have sufficed for most, these two performances are far more interesting than they at first appear. Perfect Helen could easily have been played as a Mrs. Too-Perfect, a upper class bitch out to step on her female rivals. But while she comes off as competitive, she never appears malevolent. From early in the film we get the impressions that her faults are not the result of pure evil but her own demons, which are as pernicious, in their way, as those that haunt Wiig. And McCarthy, whose comic ability cannot be understated, (one gets the impression that several of her lines were at least partially adlibbed), starts off in high gear and pretty much stays there for the whole film. Her eccentric and totally herself character is always moving forward and if she has an unfunny line or two I’m not able to remember them. And even this apparent stereotype will have her shining moment of characterization before the movie ends.
There are almost not false notes in this movie. There are characters who are underused or whose sole job is to shine line on the principals, (Wiig’s love interest, the state trooper played by Chris O’Dowd does this very well), but they all have their moments. All in all, Bridesmaids is my favorite movie of the year and I suspect it might well continue to be, given the looks of its competition in the coming months.