BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
DECEMBER 19, 2011
I was not a massive fan of “Bridesmaids” after my initial viewing. Partial blame rests on the hype surrounding the film after its opening weekend. , The female-written, Judd Apatow-produced film was billed as the funniest comedy of the year, and it could not live up to that. Seven months later, after the hype died down, I saw Bridesmaids again, and this time, I laughed until I cried.
The same thing happened with “The Hangover” in 2009. Similar in style and subject matter, it was raved about for weeks, followed by a slew of audiences disappointed from expecting the next coming of comedy Christ. I saw “The Hangover” opening night and adored it, and the fact that there was absolutely no hype surrounding it made it that much more surprising and enjoyable. After seeing “Bridesmaids” for a second time, I saw it for the female-oriented romp that it was, instead of what was supposed to be the super-comedy, laugh-fest of the year.
Kristen Wiig is a fantastic comedian known for her “Saturday Night Live” roles and her recent side roles in “MacGruber” and “Paul.” Finding a way to encapsulate Wiig as a leading player instead of just the quirky sidekick is beneficial for this film’s success and all her future endeavors. Her off-beat responses and dead-pan reactions make for some hilarious moments. She also finds an excellent middle ground between down-to-earth and over-the-top Lucille Ball slapstick.
The best performances result from actors appearing not to be acting at all and instead embodying the role they are to portray. I believe this is why Melissa McCarthy has gotten much praise for her role as sister-in-law Megan. She is so natural in the part that you think this is her personality. Her dialogue rolls off the tongue, spoken as her own words with such precise comedic timing that it is hard to register that this is a performance. On a comedy front, McCarthy steals the show, setting this film apart and becoming the equivalent to Alan (Zach Galifinakis) in “The Hangover.”
A few problems I had with Bridesmaids include:
The constant tonal shifts.
The lack of any significant events.
The misuse of several characters.
For starters, it is hard to grasp any one emotion in the film, jumping from comedy to brutal fights to deep stretches of depression and back to comedy. “The Hangover” also had highs and lows but used the lows sporadically instead of constantly.
Also, the film teases too often at significant events, like the trip to Vegas or Paris, which have limitless possibilities yet are never delivered. There are no critical events besides the shower and wedding. The film lacks any “wow” factor besides the spoken comedy. And lastly, the film tends to rely too heavily on the tension between Annie (Kristen Wiig) and Helen (Rose Byrne) vying for Lillian’s (Maya Rudolph) affection and, in the process, loses far too much focus on some of the fellow main characters. Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey) and Becca (Ellie Kemper) disappear, save for a brief appearance on the airplane in which they don’t share the screen with any prominent women. At times they feel like filler rather than equal parts on screen.
The film can also carry on a little too long at times, taking a funny moment and beating it like a dead horse. The sequence at Lillian and Dougie’s engagement party where Helen and Annie toast battle is borderline unbearable. Though meant to be awkward, that notion eventually alienates the audience, leaving them begging for someone to make it stop.
“Bridesmaids” marks a successful female-driven raunch comedy and an excellent companion piece to a film like “The Hangover.” Hype theories aside, it is definitely on par with the comedies released this year, but it isn’t the best comedy of the year by any means. If this film does prove anything, it’s that many more of these female-induced films will be sprouting up in the upcoming years.
May 13, 2011
(for some strong sexuality, and language throughout)