Wednesday, November 30, 2011


In a lot of ways, Bridesmaids is just a regular comedy produced by Judd Apatow, and that generally seems to be to its benefit. I don't make a habit of watching comedies aimed at women, but a lot of them seem pretty dull in concept and execution. Bridesmaids aims a bit more toward the middle, featuring a mostly female cast, but with a familiar feel to guys who liked movies like Knocked Up, and I think the approach pays off well. I believe it is Apatow's most financially successful film to date, which shows that that kind of wider targeting can pay off. It's a movie about women, but that doesn't have to mean anything negative. The cast is fantastic, and laughs come just as frequently as they ever do in movies like this.

Kristen Wiig co-wrote the film and stars as a woman stuck in a rut with a bad job and a bad quasi-boyfriend played by a very goofy Jon Hamm. Things look up when her best friend played by Maya Rudolph gets engaged (to Tim Heidecker in a marvelously enjoyable non-role) and names her the maid of honor, though they turn sour when she realizes she has competition in the form of Rose Byrne's character, the beautiful wife of the groom's rich boss who clearly wants to step into the role of best friend for Rudolph. The oneupsmanship between the two competitors provides a deep well of humor and awkwardness, and provides the bulk of the tension in the plot. The other bridesmaids are played by Erin from The Office and Johnson from Reno 911!, and I suppose most famously Melissa McCarthy in a role that seems designed to steal the movie but doesn't quite. It's a similar role to Zach Galifianakis' in The Hangover (she even has an oddly symmetrical relationship to the characters getting married), but whereas he was easily the best part of that movie, there's enough good stuff happening constantly in Bridesmaids that no one scene or character really has a chance to do much overshadowing.

So the film plays out about the way you'd expect, with the main conflict damaging the protagonist's friendships and interfering with her own romantic subplot. If I had a complaint about the movie, it's that it's a bit too intense emotionally. The funny moments are very funny, but like most regular comedies, there comes that part in the second act where things get darker and angrier, and the movie goes a bit too far dragging its protagonist through the mud before she inevitably redeems herself. I watch comedies like this to laugh, and while I did that quite a bit during Bridesmaids, the last third was pretty light on the humor. It's a nice story though, and Wiig is a great lead and she's surrounded by terrific supporting performances on all side. It might be the only pure comedy I've actually seen that came out this year, but I doubt it would have a lot of competition for best of 2011 even if I had seen more.

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