Directed by Paul Feig
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Chris O’Dowd, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ellie Kemper, Melissa McCarthy, Jon Hamm
Release Date: May 13, 2011
Hollywood finally thought that a movie about women having fun should get made, and that this novel perception could be adequately funny. What a great idea! Not a pampered fun, though, the girls in Sex and the City have been relishing. Not even a subdued fun the girls in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants had. Let’s try for a fun that is manly, demeaning, and vulgar. Maybe this is the kind of comedy women will flock to see. Geez, such wishful thinking. Maybe the bulk of moviegoers fantasize about the deconstruction of the ideal beauty women rightly and proudly possessed for decades and millenniums. Truthfully, what’s not to admire when a woman bears striking resemblance to a character that Jonah Hill or Seth Rogen played? It is about time Hollywood let women experience the glitz and glamor not of Gucci or Vera Wang, but of the films Judd Apatow has had some influence on.
Striving for justice in a comedic world littered with uninspiring material that poses as comedy may seem like a daunting task. Genuineness is inapplicable in most comedies and the streak, sadly, continues with director Paul Feig‘s Bridesmaids, scripted by co-stars Kristen Wiig, of Saturday Night Live fame, and Annie Mumolo. The script has no abundance of humor. It is scarce and limited. Scenes desperately seeking that elusive, original idea that permits and encourages the audience to revel in its inventiveness are nowhere to be found.
What begins as a potent idea quickly dissolves because we glaringly witness the lack of refinement the women in the film have. Their uncouth demeanors are as flagrant as can be and are meant to produce hysterical laughs, but never does that happen. Their coarseness, akin to the vulgar men in recent bro-mance comedies (Hangover, Super Bad), reaches an inordinate level of absurdity. Where we should be shown these women’s soul deep torments we are detoured, forced to bear witness to their projectile vomiting, discharging of body waste, and childish jealousy. These women are characterized by qualities endlessly associated with men. There’s evidence that Bridesmaids has characters that are emotionally hurting. Many of them are — and not just due to food poisoning. But the film takes the low road and never deals with their problems seriously, always meandering around a serious issue and never animate in its attempt to skillfully and insightfully solve an issue where immaturity isn’t the root of it all. A film that has reliance on comic vulgarity as being the only way out of a situation is inconsequential. Bridesmaids displays this perfectly. When the film plays around with a personal crisis of a character, how can the audience accept or sympathize with that character when the film doesn’t show any remorse?
To best sum up, Bridesmaids is — to borrow a title of a film by Pedro Almodovar — Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Instead of the plural “˜women’ let’s make it a singular “˜woman.’ Ms. Wiig’s character, Annie, is on the verge of a nervous breakdown and is trying to endure, or maybe even elude, such a catastrophe that is self-inflicted. Wiig instills a sense of desperate urgency in Annie and right off the bat Wiig proves to be watchable. A failed bakery owner now working at a jewelry store, Annie’s best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph), has chosen her to be her maid of honor at her upcoming wedding. Annie resembles Paul Giamatti’s character in Sideways in that they both expose their vulnerabilities unabashedly and when she tries to help Lillian in preparation for her marriage she uncovers deficiencies in her own life that she never thought existed. Soon they ascend to her discernment and once aware of them she is rendered hopeless, in a state of perpetual despair, anguish, and jealousy.
It stems when Annie comes into contact with the other bridesmaids played by Rose Byrne, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Elli Kemper, and Melissa McCarthy. Annie realizes how terribly poor she is, causing her to hit rock bottom emotionally, economically and physically. They all strive to make Lillian happy, taking her to eat, bridal parties, dress fittings, and bachelorette parties. Mostly to blame for Annie’s depression is Lillian’s new bf Helen (Byrne). Not only is she elegantly gorgeous to Annie’s simplistic beauty, but she happens to be extremely wealthy, using her wealth as a means to win the affection of Lillian, and possibly snatching the title “maid of honor” from Annie.
Director Feig, really a TV-oriented man, has proved to show some life in episodes of The Office and Nurse Jackie. But with Bridesmaids he proves to have little stamina, exhausting all of its available humor on scenes that last longer than they should. Another issue Feig faces is trying to differentiate between genres. Is his film comedy, melodrama, chick-flick, or romance (Annie has flings with a police officer played by the enjoyable Chris O’Dowd and a man whore played with coolness by Jon Hamm)? There is no long lasting tone that can produce a believable and much needed stable ambiance, only scenes of intermittent consistency trying to tackle each genre, and to little avail. At least we are in Wiig’s presence throughout. Her acting, which is usually limited to sketches on SNL, proves to be endurable and likable. She only needs a better film.
Rating: **1/2 out of *****