Bridesmaids

Bridesmaids

Hi, my name is Rich and I'm a big fan of romantic comedies. But even if you don't have this particular personal problem quirk, I think most people will find something to laugh seriously at in Bridesmaids. If you're male and in a dating situation it also has the benefit of appearing to be a chick flick while (I'm pretty confident) appealing to a broad population.

Guys – don't worry, this isn't like Sex in the City 2, where you went to be nice and spent the next two and a half hours deciding if the downside of clawing your eyes out outweighs the benefits of not having to see what was going on for the rest of the picture. That said, Bridesmaids isn't is a film to bring your young daughters (or sons) to…unless you want to expand their vocabulary a bit, and not in the workplace acceptable way.

Even the most casual film viewer from the last hundred years will recognize the story and the milestones along the way. Annie (Kristen Wiig), a woman without a lot of luck in love or business, struggles with emotional baggage while serving as her best friend Lillian's (Maya Rudolph) Maid of Honor.

The arc of the story delivers all the required genre comedy touch-points – the engagement party where Annie is upstaged by Lillian's new and fabulous friend, the dress shopping excursion, and then of course the wedding. They even throw in the obligatory bachelorette party trip to Vegas. In all this they still find time for a potential love interest for Annie, the failed cake baker.

In a lot of ways Bridesmaids, will be familiar to anyone who has ever seen a picture with Julia Roberts (when she's not playing a prostitute).  What makes it stands out is that it's consistently downright funny, and does so in a way that's raw and rawnchy enough that it makes you keep asking yourself, "This is a movie about a wedding, right?" The comedy was so strong I'll even forgive the one scatological scene that seems to be obligatory for anyone making a hard R comedy piece these days. Honestly, that's not really my cup of tea. Though if you're going to do a food poisoning scene and swing for the fences, I must admit that the end image of what Bridesmaids delivers truly raises the bar.  So in that sense, heaven help us all…

One of the reasons I think the picture works is that the character of Annie feels more like a real person than the caricature that tends to get drawn in this scenario. She's dealing with some serious setbacks, living with a pair of continually inappropriate British siblings, scratching out a living in a job she hates and to some extent wallowing in her own failure. She'd tried to make a go of a bakery that crashed and burned.  Whether that was because of or just incidental to the failure of her relationship with the boyfriend that worked at the shop is always a bit unclear. But even though it's clear she she might be jealous of Lillian's success in landing a truly good man, Annie genuinely goes out of her way to be a supportive Maid of Honor. She knows Lillian well and has what at least seems like a clear and positive vision of how to help – though when you see her planning skills (such as showing up at a posh boutique without a call ahead), one maybe starts to suspect what the business problems were. The real dramatic/comedy tension in the film comes from the bride's boss' wife Helen (Rose Byrne) who has adopted Lillian as her best friend.  Whitney's energy and cash infusion to the proceedings continually puts Lillian on the defensive – something she tries, and tries again, to hide throughout the picture.

The discussions and language feel pretty natural, and it's easy to sympathize up to a point with Annie. Though the film doesn't completely neglect addressing the character's not take simple affirmative steps to improve her lot in life.  That (for lack of a better term) doormat quality leads to her encounter with and subsequent rocky yet burgeoning relationship with an adorable police officer that pulls her over early in the film. But I can almost assure you that you won't be thinking too hard about the character's motivations due to the twin distractions of laughter and/or groaning. This is a movie that revels in uncomfortable moments and wrings laughter out of some you don't always 100% see coming.

Those uncomfortable moments are often goosed along by an impressively ballsy performance by Melissa McCarthy (as bridesmaid Megan).  Melissa is the group's incarnation of raw Dionysian id, a woman with no filter who lets no desire be shamefully repressed. She's both hysterical and in a way the true hero of the story. And she does things with a sandwich after the musical finale that's both extremely disturbing and pretty entertaining.

The film was written by and starring Kristen Wiig (who you likely somewhat know from Saturday Night Live) and her collaborator Annie Mumolo. I suppose one could spend a fair amount of time analyzing how gender issues factor into this comedy, conceived by women and starring essentially an all female cast. Maybe about how the raunch is somehow different, or how the women's emotions are treated less as a punchline – with a reference to how men are more visual or something (though that might be an analysis of something else, not too sure). I'm sure there may be something to that line of thought, but at the end of the day it's just laugh out loud funny – so who the heck cares?