Sunday, June 12, 2011

Finally, my glowing review of Bridesmaids

My friend Steve looks at me as if I am crazy every time I tell him that Bridesmaids is a great movie.  He seems quite skeptical of my raving review for the movie.  At some point I’ll just make him see it.  The rest of you, however, are going to need to trust what I tell you about the movie right now.

                I was initially skeptical of Bridesmaids.  Hell, I hadn’t even heard a damn thing about it until I was waiting for someone at the theater and noticed the poster for it.   To me it just seemed like another teeny bopper romantic comedy.  It was much to my pleasure to eventually learn that it was neither a teeny bopper movie or a romantic comedy.

                Yeah, I didn’t get a good look at it the first time.  I saw the title in big letters and thought it was some knockoff of lowly girlie comedies like The Sleepover or Jawbreaker.  Had I gotten closer I would have seen the smaller font that indicated that the producer of Superbad, Knocked Up, and The 40 Year Old Virgin was involved.  That is Judd fucking Apatow.  I can’t recall that man being involved with anything remotely near cinematic garbage.  I also totally blanked on the fact that the movie was written by and starred Kristen Wiig.   I freaking love Kristen Wiig.  She is usually one of the few highlights of any episode of Saturday Night Live.   She was brilliant in her small part in Knocked Up.  She has a way delivering very dry, yet lively lines.  Anyways, I was suddenly interested in the movie at this point.  I read some good reviews and decided to go see it myself.

                As I stated earlier, Bridesmaids is by no means a romantic comedy.  Sure there is a side plot with a love interest, but it is not the focus of the movie.  The movie is much more interesting and can best be described as a basic R-rated comedy that focuses on a female lead character.  Basically it is like taking any one of the Apatow comedies and swapping out the cast with mostly women.  There is swearing.  There is some sex.  And there are raunchy gross out moments.  All this stuff happening to a bunch of women is an alien concept for a mainstream Hollywood movie.  Regardless, it clicks on all cylinders.
                Wiig stars as Annie, a down on her luck Milwaukee woman who recently lost her cake making business due to the horrible economic situation.   Maya Rudolph plays her best friend, Lily, who gets engaged in the first act of the movie and thus sets up the basic premise.   Lily chooses Annie to be her maid of honor and we soon meet the rest of her bridesmaids.   First the is Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey), Lily’s cousin and a married mother of several teenage boys.   Then there is Becca (The Office’s Ellie Kemper), a newly-wed who has only ever been with one man.  Thirdly, there is Lily’s future sister in law, Megan (Melissa McCarthy) who is a strong, independent, and confident woman.  Rounding out the bridesmaids is Helen (Rose Byrne), who is a relatively new friend of Lily.

                The central conflict of the movie is that the one good thing in Annie’s life, her relationship with Lily, is being threatened by Helen’s involvement in the wedding.  An unspoken rivaly is born as both Annie and Helen try to out-do the other in showing Lily how great of a friend they are.  Now if Bridesmaids were a cliché of a movie, Annie would be imagining that Helen was deliberately trying to one up her.   That is not really the case here and it makes us root for everything to work out in Annie’s favor.  Needless to say, this rivalry is the catalyst for a series of comedic follies and misunderstandings.

                Some really great scenes are created out of this core conflict.  One of them, and I never thought I would say this about a movie, takes place in a dress shop while another goes down on a flight to Las Vegas.  Both are scenes that will, without a doubt, win you over.  After you see those scenes, you should be involved in the movie until the closing credits.  

                Wiig is utterly brilliant in Bridesmaids.  If anything, the movie will be a catapult for her into mainstream success.  She will get more leading roles and will write many more films after this.  She has mastered the art of behaving in a crazy manner, but still keeping her characters grounded in reality.  Wiig is also great doing some physical comedy in Bridesmaids, which is totally a lost art in movie making.

                Mad Men fans will be thrilled to see Jon Hamm in the movie as well.  He has a small bit part that I can’t describe without ruining its awesomeness.  His first lines of the movie are words I never expected to hear the man say.  I look forward to him doing more comedies in the future as he always brings his A game. 

                Ultimately, the real scene stealer in Bridesmaids is Melissa McCarthy.  Her portrayal of Megan rivals the zaniness of Zach Galifinakis in The Hangover.  I don’t think there was a word that came out of her mouth that wasn’t funny.   Right from the moment Megan is introduced all the way into the credits sequence, she owns every bit of her performance.  When you leave the theater, she will be the one you are talking about.

                All in all, Bridesmaids was a solid summer comedy.  I will go as far as saying that it is the best comedy of the year.  Hell, I am putting it up with the contenders for best movie I have seen in 2011 period.  It is the perfect balance of comedy with a strong emotional core.  It is a wonder as to why more movies don’t mold themselves in the Apatow formula.  Oh well, if they did, then Bridesmaids wouldn’t be this summer’s hidden gem.