Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"Bridesmaids" Offers More Than Just Belly Laughs

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 89 (of 2011) by Leroy Douresseaux

Bridesmaids (2011)
Running time: 125 minutes (2 hours, 5 minutes)
MPAA – R for some strong sexuality, and language throughout
WRITERS: Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo
PRODUCERS: Judd Apatow, Barry Mendel, and Clayton Townsend
EDITOR: William Kerr and Mike Sale


Starring: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd, Jill Clayburgh, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ellie Kemper, Tim Heidecker, Rebel Wilson, Matt Lucas, Michael Hitchcock, Franklyn Ajaye, Terry Crews, Jon Hamm, and Wilson Phillips (Carnie Wilson, Wendy Wilson, and Chynna Phillips)

Bridesmaids is a 2011 comedy and drama starring and co-written by Kristen Wiig, a current cast member of “Saturday Night Live” (as of this writing). Produced by Apatow Productions, Bridesmaids follows a down-on-her-luck maid of honor whose personal problems threaten to derail a friend’s wedding.

Annie Walker (Kristen Wiig) is a single woman in her mid 30s and lives in Milwaukee. In recent years, she has seen her dream bakery (called Cake Baby) fail and drain away her life savings. Her current boyfriend, the self-absorbed Ted (Jon Hamm), really isn’t her boyfriend; Ted is just someone who uses Annie for sex. When her best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph), announces that she is engaged to marry her boyfriend, Doug (Tim Heidecker), Annie should be happy for her, but Lillian’s impending nuptials only make Annie think about her own sad state of affairs.

Lillian asks Annie to be her maid of honor, but at the engagement party, Annie is shocked to discover that one of the other bridesmaids, Helen Harris III (Rose Byrne), has a relationship with Lillian that can best be described as “best friends.” Annie is also put off by the other bridesmaids: raunchy, cynical, frustrated housewife, Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey); idealistic new bride, Becca (Ellie Kemper); and Lillian’s crude, but lively future sister-in-law, Megan (Melissa McCarthy). Annie’s attempts at being maid of honor are disastrous and her life isn’t much better. Meanwhile, a local cop, Officer Nathan Rhodes (Chris O’Dowd), takes a liking to Annie.

The title, Bridesmaids, is a little misleading. This film is really about Annie Walker; all the other characters are supporting players to one degree or another. Even Lillian’s wedding, an event that weighs heavily on the story, is merely a subplot in Annie’s complicated life. I would say that much of what was shown in trailers and in television advertisements for this film, especially the hijinks of the Bridesmaids, mostly comes from a section of this film that runs from the end of the first hour to the first 30 or so minutes of the second hour.

That’s not to say that this movie isn’t funny. It’s quite funny. I found myself laughing out loud (really loud, sometimes) at many moments throughout this movie. The bridesmaids live up to the expectations, especially Melissa McCarthy, an Emmy winner for the CBS sitcom, “Mike & Molly.” McCarthy steals practically every scene in which she appears; there should be, at least, some kind of award nomination coming her way. On the other hand, one of this film’s faults is that Maya Rudolph’s Lillian is not in this movie enough. Every time Lillian appears, the movie seems to beg her to stay longer.

Still, this movie is really about Annie Walker, and to that extent, it is well-written by Wiig and co-writer Annie Mumolo. Wiig also gives an excellent comic performance, one that brings humor and sarcasm to Annie’s troubles without making them seem less troublesome. Annie’s life is pretty crappy. That Annie’s dilemmas feel so real is probably why having the policeman, Nathan Rhodes, show up in her life, adds such a lovely romantic touch to this movie. Irish comedian and actor Chris O’Dowd gives what is probably a career-turning performance as the genial, extremely likeable Rhodes, who is a kind of a knight in shining armor. Even I have a crush on the character.

For all the credit that Kristen Wiig, her co-writer, and the rest of the cast deserve, credit should also go to director Paul Feig. He knows just what tone to strike for each scene and also which genre conventions should be present depending on the moment. It’s one thing to direct a comedy-drama, but to also direct a romantic comedy that is connected to a spirit-crushing mid-life crisis is quite a feat.

Do believe the hype. Bridesmaids was a big hit in theatres because people liked it and kept spreading the word about it. And the word I want to use for it is “classic.” I hope it lives up to that. I think it will.

8 of 10

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

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