I have a long “movies I missed at the cinema” list and now this 2011 comedy starring Kristen Wiig is off it. I believe that watching a film by yourself at home, without the infectious communal atmosphere of a movie theatre, is a pretty good test of just how funny a movie is. I laughed out loud a good many times during Bridesmaids; bonus points for tickling my funny bone while I was feeling like a sleep-deprived zombie.
Wiig is playing Annie, a thirty-something whose life, put bluntly, stinks. The bakery business she invested all her money in has gone bust, she’s miserable at her job in a jewelry store where she’s supposed to put on a happy face, her old car is one bump away from the rubbish heap, and her demeaning sex-buddy relationship with shallow Ted (Jon Hamm) makes Annie hate herself. Other than her mother, the only bright spot in her life is her long-time friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph), who at the beginning of the movie gets engaged, with Annie to be her maid of honour.
Soon Annie meets the rest of the bridal party, including Megan (scene-stealing Melissa McCarthy), a brash and assertive woman who doesn’t mince words, and Helen (Rose Byrne), the wife of the groom’s boss. Helen seems to have been deliberately created in a lab to push every single of Annie’s insecurity buttons: she’s rich, beautiful, poised, confident, a natural organiser, and threatens Annie’s position as Lillian’s best friend. Through a series of disasters and Helen’s interference, Annie’s relationship with Lillian becomes frayed, but it’s clear that, Helen notwithstanding, Annie is her own worst enemy and can’t help shooting herself in the foot. Her self-destructive impulse also poisons her new promising relationship with Rhodes (Chris O’Dowd), a cop with an Irish accent and good heart she (duh) is obviously meant to be with.
At the time of its release a lot of noise was made about how this ensemble comedy is some sort of revolutionary answer to the raunchy and rude male-dominated comedies like The Hangover, but to someone who’s watched and rewatched Sex and the City for years the fuss feels maybe a tad overstated. I guess it does serve to highlight the gulf between the film and TV land, which has increasingly become the true home for the more risqué material. Also, as is often the case with Judd Apatow-produced material, some scenes go on for too long and aren’t as funny as they think they are. Still, Bridesmaids has a big heart, is very frequently hilarious and is a fantastic showcase for Kristen Wiig’s comedic and dramatic talents.