In 2007 Judd Apatow emerged as the new king of comedy, with films like Knocked Up and Superbad under his belt he was doing well for himself. He became the go to comedy genius in Hollywood, but after commercial misfires (Funny People) and critical flops (Year One) it seems that Apatow may have been on his way out, that is until he tapped into a new market. Why not take his proven success with lewd comedy and adapt it for a female audience? For years the female comedy market has been playing it safe with the most risqué option being the trashy Sex and the City movies but Bridesmaids aims to change all that. We follow the story of Annie (Wiig), a 30 something woman whose life is going nowhere who has just been asked to be the maid of honour at her best friend Lillian’s (Rudolph) wedding. Annie is forced to deal with difficult bridesmaids (Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Ellie Kemper and Wendi McLendon-Covey) and whilst watching her friend take a new step in life, Annie has to start to question where her life is going.
This film is exactly what the multiplexes needed to shake up the female demographic; it’s smart, sweet, funny and ballsy. It’s very reminiscent of The 40 Year Old Virgin in that way, a very smart and relatable comedy but never to afraid to lose its audience by venturing into American Pie territories of gross out humour. The film is long with a runtime lasting over two hours but you never get bored as the film keeps throwing jokes at the audience that remain funny throughout, there are deep belly laughs in every scene. The scene that stands out in particular is the fitting scene, if you’ve seen the trailer you’ll know it involves a little bit of food poisoning, I won’t describe it in great detail but it was definitely the greatest poo scene this critic has seen since Slumdog Millionaire (or maybe a better comparison would be Zack and Miri Make a Porno).
The cast in the film make for a great ensemble, Kristen Wiig’s performance does come off as a tad more over the top than everyone else (she is such a wonderful character actress and it seems that playing a grounded character is too restrained for her talents) but the rest of the cast knocks it out of the park. Each bridesmaid offer great moments through out the movie with special mention to Rose Byrne and Melissa McCarthy who both steal the movie. Byrne who was dreadful in the recent horror hit Insidious proves she has real comedy chops playing the lonely rich bitch trying to steal Annie’s best friend, keeping her own when playing against Wiig who is a great comedienne. McCarthy’s role can easily be compared to that of Seth Rogen in The 40 Year Old Virgin or Zach Galifianakis in The Hangover, she’s the one with the dirtiest and silliest gags but she handles herself well and is sure to be a huge comedy star by the end of the year. Maya Rudolph does a great job at paying the straight woman to Wiig’s craziness, it’s clear the two have great chemistry from their SNL days, it makes one wish they had actually shared a scene and not just a lover in MacGruber. Both Kemper and McLendon-Covey offer laughs as well but their roles feel reduced compared to that of the others but will probably be expanded on with the release of the inevitable unrated version on home video. The men in the film also do good jobs with John Hamm playing an awful slime ball that you love to hate, Hamm could play a serial rapist and you’d still love him, that is the power of Hamm! Chris O’Dowd plays Annie’s love interest and it is nice to see him finally get a plumb role after wasting time with such trash as Gulliver’s Travels and Dinner For Schmucks, he is a competent leading man, being both charming and funny, the screen seemed to light up whenever he was on it, hope to see more of him in roles like this.
There are times when it becomes apparent that writer and star Kristen Wiig’s history is in sketch comedy as some scenes (as well as her performance) come off like Saturday Night Live sketches, but really good ones, like 1970s Saturday Night Live standard sketches. Director Paul Feig is a veteran of TV, working with Apatow on Freaks and Geeks and directing many an episode of The Office and Arrested Development, this shows with the film often feeling segmented and having strange transitions where the locations are displayed prominently. This is not a bad thing though; it works with the sketch like way the film is written and actually helps to keep even the smallest scene memorable. Though the film has small screen pacing, it doesn’t look like a TV show in its cinematography and easily comes out as the best of Feig’s big screen career.
Like Knocked Up and The 40 Year Old Virgin before it, this is a film that will get even better after watching it a couple of times, that way you can get all the jokes and fall in love with each character. Its runtime is long but with it you get more jokes than you can handle and it takes time to work on it sensitive but sweet message about life not holding you down. Despite Wiig not being the strongest performer in the film (perhaps Tina Fey would have been a stronger choice) she still has come out with a remarkable film that proves that you don’t need a penis to be funny. The film is easily one of the funniest of the year and deserves to be remembered as a comedy classic due to its great breaking of gender stereotypes.