Published May 12, 2011Here's a litmus test for Bridesmaids: do you find the thought of Kristen Wiig pretending to be an erect penis funny? Because if you do, this is the flick for you.
In chronicling the plight of the immature slacker, Judd Apatow and his band of merry male pranksters have been accused of writing the other sex out of the equation (or relegating them to type-A taskmasters) more than a few times. Therefore, it's tempting to view Bridesmaids, which Apatow co-produced, as simply swapping out the dudes for the ladies. But that sort of thinking fails to recognize the formidable talents of director Paul Feig and writers Wiig and Annie Mumolo.
While the dick jokes have been replaced by their female counterparts, the film delivers where dozens of hackneyed rom-coms have failed. Annie (Wiig), a single, 30-something, is her best friend Lillian's (Maya Rudolph) maid of honour. A failed business owner sleeping with a rich, but emotionally vacant asshole (a perfectly smarmy Jon Hamm), Annie soon finds her position as Lillian's BFF under fire from her newest friend, the beautiful and wealthy Helen (Rose Byrne). Helen's continued attempts to undermine Annie and Lillian's relationship magnify Annie's problems, pushing her to the breaking point.
Unlike, say, He's Just Not that Into You, 27 Dresses or the entire post-Almost Famous career of Kate Hudson, Bridesmaids succeeds because it presents a group of characters who are instantly relatable rather than aspirational. Yes, Annie's fuck buddy is a dick, but it's easy to see why she continues to fall for him. Similarly, when alternate mate Nathan (Chris O'Dowd) is thrown into the mix, his charm is palpable, while Annie's self-destructive streak naturally pushes him away.
This kind of simple, character-driven drama was a hallmark of cult cancelled-before-its-time dramedy Freaks and Geeks, which director Feig created. The story does drag, at times, as Annie spirals towards rock bottom, but a stellar supporting cast (Mike & Molly's Melissa McCarthy is especially hilarious as Lillian's sister-in-law to be), along with Wiig and Rudolph's natural chemistry, carries the film through its slower moments. (Universal)