May 17, 2011

Always a Bridesmaid

When I first saw the trailer for Bridesmaids, I immediately thought, "Oh a female version of The Hangover"---which I finally saw a few weeks ago courtesy of Netflix, and didn't care for. But I like Kristen Wiig, and my curiosity for her debut screenplay (which she co-wrote with Annie Mumolo) won out. I still had my reservations, because it is produced by Judd Apatow after all. Despite the now infamous, totally unnecessary gross-out bridesmaids' dress fitting scene that Mr. Apatow added, I truly enjoyed this hysterically funny and surprisingly tender film.

Annie (Wiig) is not exactly having the time of her thirtysomething life. She lost all her money when her Milwaukee bakery went under, lives with 2 weird English roommates, hates her job at a jewelry store, drives a crappy car, and occasionally sleeps with a handsome jerk very sleazily played by Jon Hamm. Her mom (Jill Clayburgh in her last film) isn't much of a confidence-builder either.

Things get even worse when she is asked by her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) to be her maid of honor. The rest of the bridal party is led by Lillian's new friend Helen---every old girlfriend's worst nightmare---beautiful, wealthy, the perfect party planner. There is bored Rita (Wendi MCClendon-Covey), married with 3 children; naive newlywed Becca (Ellie Kemper), and Megan the indelicate future sister-in-law (a very blunt, crude, scene-stealing Melissa McCarthy). Eager to fulfill her maid of honor duties, Annie manages to make a disaster out of every pre-wedding activity. Of course usurper Helen is on hand to thwart original BFF's attempts. While wallowing, Annie shares her problems and frustrations with Mr. Nice Guy Rhodes. Chris O'Dowd charmed his way into Annie's, and my heart as well.

Paul Feig's film is not about bridezillas. True, there are women behaving badly. But it's about complex female relationships, friendship and loss, and taking charge of one's life. I'm not one to have many close girl friends. I couldn't identify with the Sex and the City girls. I remember being in elementary school and being in the middle of a big-to-do about who was best friends with whom. Even now, I cringe a little when a friend of mine calls me her best friend. (That's probably a whole other blog post, and certainly not here.) But who hasn't been in a position where a friend asks for your advice, but nevertheless continues with their self-destructive and self-defeating ways? Or felt a bit left out when a friend finds a new friend. Or gone through the change in dynamics once someone gets married, has children, or even just becomes involved with someone. It also makes a statement about the insanity surrounding weddings.

Anyway, this film is NOT The Hangover with women. It is about friends, an ensemble piece with very talented comediennes in serious, heartbreaking, raunchy, life-altering, comical situations. But mad props goes to Kristen Wiig. She gave a very touching performance as a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown. She's still hilarious, but a revelation in the dramatic scenes. At her best friend's wedding (and in this movie), Ms. Wiig is no bridesmaid; she is a star.

(photo from Imp Awards)


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