by Bret Dorman
Every year there comes a movie that gets great buzz. Then it comes out and people love it. And then I see it and don’t like it as much. And then when I say I don’t like it people are all like “You just don’t like it cuz everyone else liked it!” That’s not true! I like movies everyone else likes!
So… Bridesmaids came out to great reviews and buzz. Then people started saying they loved it. After seeing it, could I dare say… This movie isn’t worth all the hype?
The Story: Kristen Wiig’s Best Friend Maya Rudolph is getting married and Wiig is asked to be the maid of honor! Only planning the celebratory ceremonies with her female bridesmaid companions turns out to be more difficult then she had hoped! And maybe a little funnier as well? Also, there are NUMEROUS poop jokes. Awesome.
I could be a dick and nitpick and critique this movie over the smallest things. A few of which being: 1) Some of the potty humor gets bigger laughs just because its ladies doing it. 2) Some of the minor bridesmaids characters are pretty one dimensional and used for cheap stereotypical jokes. 3) The movie is predictable.
And while these points are true, there’s something more going on here. In response to nitpick numbers 1 and 2, yes some of the minor characters may be used just for cheap laughs that I didn’t laugh at, but the main characters not only take the comedy spotlight through genuine laughs, they take the dramatic spotlight with genuine emotions.
Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph are so good in this movie its sad to think that this is their first major movie pairing together. They wield their comedic/dramatic chemistry like a double edge sword. One the one edge, when one is going crazy the other can choose to ground herself and make a touching scene. On the other edge, when one is going crazy the other can go even crazier and its hilarious. And both women can exchange roles of grounded one/crazy one/crazier one at any given time.
Rose Byrne plays a rival best friend to Rudolph character who’s strength is in being as non-wacky as Wiig is wacky. While Wiig bounces and stutters around, bringing her usual (un)confident charm to the movie, Bryne plays it straight the whole time. And Melissa McCarthy, who plays the ‘curvier’ fight club endorsing bridesmaid does a great job at playing the wild card of the bunch. Some might say she steals the show but I don’t think that’s totally accurate. She does have one great motivational scene towards the end but never really qualifies as a scene stealer in my opinion.
As for the guys in the movie, John Hamm’s character is fun but its been done a little bit too much without having any real unique trait behind it. It helps that its John Hamm in this role though because his star presence alone makes the character work. And Chris O’Dowd brings a certain nice guy charm to his ‘funny talking’ cop role that plays as the more ‘serious’ love interest for Wiig. Also, Tim Heidecker plays Rudolph’s Husband-to-be. Great Job! (Spoiler! No Eric Wareheim cameo… or at least that I saw… and I was looking…)
Which brings me to the biggest question for the review (and one that I have been personally asked several times): Is this movie for guys?
And honestly this question pisses me off. Its like “well, its mostly women in the cast so girls will OBVIOUSLY want to see it, but that means guys won’t want to because if there is one thing guys hate, its women… and if there’s two things guys hate, its women AND comedy…”
I’m sure I am not the first to bring up this point, but this movie is NOT a chick flick. In fact, a chick flick would probably have more men in it and more man-screen-time in it because its nice for women to have some eye candy (in a chick flick) while the female lead does stupid and relatable female things that aren’t funny or clever at all then falls into a puddle of mud before a big date/interview.
But this movie isn’t that. This movie is at heart an endearing drama that shows the power of friendship and how putting aside your own personal needs to be there for a friend can be more rewarding than acting selfishly. But that’s at its heart. On the surface level, its a wacky comedy that has tons of good character jokes as well as some good ol’ fashion poop jokes.
And if the name Kristen Wiig doesn’t inspire at least some sort of interest by now, you have to get your funny bone re-calibrated.
Director Paul Feig luckily has a background of working on TV Shows that have strong writing and improvisors so luckily he doesn’t seem to interfere too much, simply providing an atmosphere where the comedy and chemistry can happen naturally. In fact, big kudos for the people behind letting this get released as an R Rated comedy. It could have worked as a PG13 movie, but it wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun.
You can definitely tell that improvisors/sketch writers were at work here. Some scenes, like the overly long but well built up plane scene seems more at home as as sketch on SNL. But its also ‘deviations’ like this that make the movie work as a more old’ fashioned comedy than a newer one. Writing a scene in mostly for the sake of getting jokes and laughs but really letting it run and build at its own pace was almost annoying at first as I just wanted the story to move on before the performances started getting amped up and I was having a blast by the end.
As for the improvising, two things really shined through that also correspond with the above-mentioned Wiig/Rudolph chemistry.
The first one is playing true to your emotions and trying to get your wants (aka what your character wants in the scene). This is done so well on the (jump cut to) the bus ride home after the ultimately and embarrassingly trip ending plane ride incident. Rudolph wants to just have a normal wedding and given Wiig’s streak of bad luck knows this can’t happen if she is in charge and Wiig just wants to recapture some of that best friend magic they had previously in her life. Both characters want what’s best for the other so its actually kind of heart breaking when Rudolph asks Wiig to give up her ‘Maid of Honor’ duties to Byrne and Wiig unselfishly complies. Part of what makes it a strong scene is that both characters know what the other wants, So Rudolph knows by asking she is really asking Wiig to give up her want and by Wiig doing so she is letting Rudolph have a more stress-free wedding but sad she can’t be the one to provide it. Overall this scene is just well written and performed.
The opposite edge of that, the comedy edge, comes in the form of ‘yes, and’-ing and not only taking the blame, but taking pleasure in taking the blame (an old improvisors trick). When Wiig flips out on Rudolph she at one point mentions she probably has seen and likes Byrne’s ‘bleached asshole’. Rudolph, without missing a beat, basically says ‘YES I’ve seen it and like it AND I got mine bleached too!’ Its this element of even when they are fighting they are perfectly complimenting each other that most normal fight scenes between best friends in these kind of movies lack.
The only big problem I have with the movie is it goes a little too much into normal ‘all the relationships are failing’ territory. By the time she apologizes for the third time to the cop character, and you know they will end up together, you just want him to take her back and get it over with. It seems out of character for him to delay it so long. Also after her heart-to-heart with McCarthy’s character, Wiig seems a little too mean to Byrne who ends up opening to Wiig and confiding in her, asking for her forgiveness first when I think it should of been Wiig to initiate that exchange (it was still great to see Byrne let loose in the car though).
But that’s about my only complaint. I like the beginning with the ‘semi vague could be sex talk?’ actually turning out to be sex that goes into a funny montage of sex positions instead of the ‘normal’ route of having them doing something else. Also, the food poisoning poop and barf jokes were great and I laughed a lot at them.
In Conclusion, by the time this movie ends, it ends with every Hollywood Happy Ending in the book. And some people could point that out as a flaw. But this is a rare example of where the movie actually earns those endings. Its a feel good fun and funny movie and to end any other way would be ridiculous.
Bridesmaids isn’t just formula and cheap laughs. Its a comedy of heart and farts that everyone should see this summer.
Final Grade: A