While watching Bridesmaids this weekend, one thought kept going through my head: “This could totally happen to me and my group of close female friends.” The debauchery that Kristen Wiig and company get up to is not unlike many of the stories from my women’s college days, stories that I will never share on the Internet. But, to be fair, Bridesmaids puts every one of my displays of unladylike behavior to shame.
Bridesmaids is SNL star Kristen Wiig’s chance to prove she can be a likable comedy film actress. This is a woman, who despite Lorne Michael calling her one of the show’s best performers, is easily, quickly, and often maligned by SNL viewers. Wiig leads the pack of the aforementioned bridesmaids of destruction in the comedy film she co-wrote with Annie Mumolo.
Wiig’s Annie is an all around sad sack. A victim of the recession (her adorable cake shop just couldn’t hack it on the mean streets of Milwaukee), Annie works at a jewelry store, lives with creepy British siblings, and sleeps around with a repulsive jackass. We first meet Annie as she is being tossed (literally and figuratively) around by Ted who doesn’t know the nice way to tell her to leave the morning after. (Jon Hamm really does no wrong in this role.)
Thank god Annie has a friend like Lillian (Maya Rudolph). Anyone who will gladly scam those “lets exercise in the park” classes by hiding behind a tree with you is the kind of friend everyone should have. Then Lillian announces her engagement to Dougie (girl, you are seriously marrying down) and asks Annie to be her maid of honor. Let the mayhem begin!
Annie quickly discovers that she is no match for one of Lillian’s bridesmaids, Helen (Rose Byrne). Helen is proper, statuesque, and perfect at party planning (except she is a control freak with the emotional capacity of a needle). They fight for control over the bridal events and other bridesmaids: married Rita (Reno 911‘s Wendi McLendon-Covey), innocent Becca (The Office‘s Ellie Kemper), and scene-stealer Megan (Mike and Molly‘s Melissa McCarthy). The road to Lillian’s wedding is not easy. As her friend’s life moving forward, Annie’s life is falling apart. She moves back in with her mother (Jill Clayburgh!!!), starts a messy relationship with a cop (Chris O’Dowd), and can’t deal with the pressure of planning a wedding. There are many fights (that poor defenseless giant cookie), adorable puppies, Wilson Phillips, a disastrous plane ride to Las Vegas and a very important lesson in why you shouldn’t eat sketchy Brazilian food before a dress fitting.
Director Paul Feig (finally making a successful movie) and producer Judd Apatow delivered in bringing a very funny, female-centric comedy to audiences. Even if the raunchy Bridesmaids isn’t exactly for you, it is an important step for women in comedy. The ensemble clicks perfectly throughout and especially on the plane ride to Las Vegas scene. By now you have seem a glimpse of that scene in the trailer (“I’m here and I’m ready to paartaay!”). The scene is just like that except 1000 times better because each actress makes it work. Better yet, Melissa McCarthy as the loose cannon Megan is the movie’s true breakout star. The actress already has two films in the works. Having watched McCarthy be underused in the best friend role on Gilmore Girls and Samantha Who?, I’m ecstatic that McCarthy is finally getting the praise she deserves.
Bridesmaids works best because underneath the raunch, the hijinks, and the silly things women do for/at weddings, it actually gets at an aspect of womanhood that is sometimes treated as a gimmick in movies. Female friendships, especially those lifelong bonds, can be intense, emotional, and, most often, revolve around moments of complete lunacy. On Saturday, my friend in Kentucky and I decided to see Bridesmaids at the same time but in our respective states. (Get it, so we could go the movie together.) Afterwards she sent me a Facebook message that I adore:
“How great was Bridesmaids? A tiny bit of a romantic comedy, but mostly about the bonds and friendships between women. A raunchy comedy with a great message/a discussion about the nuances and complexities of female relationships.”
There you have it — Bridesmaids in (kind of) a nutshell.