The Queens of Comedy

Bridesmaids (September 20, 2011*)     4/5

Directed by Paul Feig (Universal Pictures)

Allow me to begin by making two bold statements.  Statement 1 – Bridesmaids is not a chick flick.  And yes, I do know that it is a movie about women.  Statement 2 – Bridesmaids is just as funny as The Hangover, and in fact, is probably the better film overall.  I am also aware that The Hangover is the highest-grossing R-rated comedy of all time, the winner of the 2009 Golden Globe for Best Comedy, and is beloved by a good proportion of teenage boys.  It is therefore key to note that Bridesmaids has become the biggest success that raunchy-comedy-with-heart guru Judd Apatow has ever had, grossing approximately $287,585,379 worldwide. But what does this have to do with the quality of the movie, you may ask? Nothing, really. But it does convey what the film has done properly. 63 percent of Bridesmaids‘ audience was over 30, and about 33 percent were men. So in other words, it consisted of very few teenage boys.

Annie (Kristen Wiig, who also co-wrote), is a single 30-something who has recently lost her own bakery, and is now working in a jewelry store.  Meanwhile, her childhood friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) has just become engaged to her boyfriend, Doug (Tim Heidecker), asking Annie to become her maid of honor.  Annie loves her best friend, and it is fair to say that Lillian helps sustain her happiness.  Yet she is slightly jealous of Lillian getting married, especially when caught in a flimsy relationship with obnoxious Ted, played by Mad Men‘s Jon Hamm.  To make matters worse, Helen (Rose Byrne), the wife of Dave’s boss, seemingly wants to take over her role as Lillian’s best friend, an act that drives Annie up the wall.  Sparks fly, complemented by the shenanigans of her fellow bridesmaids, including those played by Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey, and Ellie Kemper.

The friendship between Annie and Lillian is one of the most genuine relationships between two woman I have seen onscreen in a long time.  I am clearly not a female, but this appears to be how woman talk to each other, fight and make up, rely on each other, and share their feelings with the only ones who appear to understand.  At least, the movie convinced me that this is realistic.  If not, it seems to have fulfilled its purpose anyway.  The most interesting situation Bridesmaids portrays is how Annie feels she must hide her pain for the sake of Lillian’s happiness.  It is not until friendly police officer Nathan Rhodes (Chris O’Dowd) comes along that Annie begins to realize that she too deserves to be happy, and if she wants to claim that happiness, she must take control over her own life and dismiss the envy and self-sorrow that sometimes plagues friendships, as well as life itself.  Only in this case would she be ready to obtain what Lillian now has.

Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph, both associated with Saturday Night Live, are two VERY funny actresses, as are the rest of the cast.  Wiig and Byrne’s frequent attempts to outdo one another are both relatable and hysterical, two adjectives the film accomplishes in equal doses.  In fact, Bridesmaids has so many ridiculously hilarious sequences that you could count them on both hands.  Basically, you’ll have to peel yourself off the floor.  Melissa McCarthy, who now stars on the CBS sitcom Mike & Molly, is by far my favorite bridesmaid, stealing the best lines and often delivering the most gapingly funny moments in the film’s ever-so-raunchy segments of comedy.  Because of the film’s gross-out humor, Bridesmaids should appeal to far more than the older female demographic.  Yet the fact that it has been so successful within this group is a sign that the film has accomplished something fairly special.

Bridesmaids is a film that understands women and the lives of women, yet still has the courage to embrace the free-flowing, dirty hilarity that not only men enjoy.  Yet plenty of dudes also love Bridesmaids.  This is a great thing; a film that is so genuinely funny and well-written can appeal to both sexes, as well as be marketed to a demographic that is not often targeted for movie-viewing.  Bridesmaids may be overlong and lack a well-executed conclusion, but it also makes a star out of Kristen Wiig, as well as fully displays the talent of so many young, female comedians.  The Hangover was a great comedy, but the ladies in Bridesmaids do more than hold their own.  They make modern comedy universal.

*Video Release Date

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