Bridesmaids (2011) Movie Review

[Edit: Check out my post “10 Questions on Gender and Bridesmaids” here.]

Bridesmaids was the female-friendly straight-up comedy Sex And The City should have been. It was raunchy, real, and drew from a well of honest human emotions.

Let’s be clear. Despite promotional hype, Bridesmaids is not a female version of The Hangover. It also isn’t a bland Katherine Heigl romantic comedy. Bridesmaids is a smart, emotionally sound character study embedded in the taffeta and silk confines of a traditional wedding comedy.

The script, co-written by Wiig and Annie Mumolo was effortlessly funny, if a little scattered at moments. Paul Feig‘s direction was top-notch–save a few scenes. However, the bulk of the accolades for this movie have to go to star-on-the-rise, Kristin Wiig. She played nearly every scene pitch perfect, and wrung out every snappy comeback or quirky facial expression with limitless amounts of energy. We already knew that Wiig had good comic timing, but her work in Bridesmaids proves her ability to nail dramatic scenes as well.

Wiig stars as Annie, the maid of honor for childhood best friend, Lilian (Maya Rudolph). Annie quickly finds competition in Lilian’s new friend, Helen (Rose Byrne). Hijinks ensue as the two battle for Lilian’s affections, while Annie’s already dreary life disintegrates further. Along the way, we meet the rest of the bridesmaids, whose  scenes only left me wanting more.

There was one ensemble scene which I would have preferred not to have watched, but over-the-top toilet humor generally strikes me as unnecessary. Other than that, the interplay between the women was wonderful. In particular, Mike and Molly star Melissa McCarthy shines as the very funny and surprisingly endearing Megan, in a role which was both gross-out comic relief and inspirational Wise Woman.

The few scenes that didn’t quite ring with the same aplomb as the rest of the movie occurred mostly in the first act. Rudolph and Wiig have excellent chemistry and were believable best friends. However, Rudolph‘s character came off  as a bland straight woman in much of the first half of the film, while Wiig‘s character was alternately too big (the jewelery store scenes ran like SNL skits) and too passive (scenes with the odd brother/sister roommates).

Luckily, these issues subsided as the rest of the bridesmaids were introduced. I love that the film teased a hilarious, accident-filled romp through Vegas–just like The Hangover and so many male-oriented comedies–but ultimately stayed mostly in the confines of Milwaukee. Furthermore, while the ensemble cast had very funny moments, the bulk of the film focused on the deconstruction of Wiig‘s character, her problems, and her eventual journey from self-pity to proactive self-awareness.

In future generations, when film students write papers analyzing the importance of the “colonial woman” on the plane to Vegas, reams of paper will be dedicated to understanding the influence of Bridesmaids on changing the gendered culture of millennial movie-making.

But Bridesmaids isn’t a film about women, really. Bridesmaids is a film about one woman, and that makes an enormous difference.

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