Apatow’s specialized brand of smart gross-out comedy turns its eyes on the
women – a group that has tended to be decorative and underdeveloped in other
films which Apatow has loaned
his production muscle.
Written and starring Saturday Night Live comedienne Kristen Wiig,
Bridesmaids takes the basic Apatow template – a frothy mix of low humor
and high drama – and turns it on its ear. It’s the best Apatow comedy in a
while (since Get Him to the Greek, or perhaps Forgetting Sarah
Marshall) and that is mostly due to that new perspective.
However, with the exception of one completely misjudged sequence in which
the film delves way too far into gross-out humor – I won’t tell you exactly
what happens, but let’s just say it revolves around accidental food
poisoning and a high-end bridal boutique – the naughty humor translates well
to the woman’s perspective.
In fact, the storyline that the humor revolves around
could not be more chick-flick-ish – a woman becomes a bit freaked out and
jealous when her life-long best friend announces her wedding. But what they
do with the story is not necessarily very lady-like.
It is a wonderful showcase for Wiig, who has been
steadily building a film career based on terrific supporting turns in movies
like Whip It and Paul. With Bridesmaids, she hits it
out of the park and will undoubtedly from here on in be shopping for
Wiig plays Annie, a woman stuck in a dead-end job and a
dead-end fuck buddy relationship with a vain (but gorgeous) doctor (played
with funny dense self-absorption by Mad Men’s Jon Hamm).
Her life-long best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph), who
she has bonded over a life of bad relationships and a mutual soft spot for
the music of Wilson Phillips, has just announced that she is getting
married. Beyond the normal slight jealousy that her friend has found love
before her, Annie has to deal with the responsibilities of being the maid of
honor, suddenly having lots of new jobs and responsibilities that are
totally outside of her skill set.
To make things worse, Lillian has a new friend named
Helen (Rose Byrne), who is gorgeous, smart, rich, confident and a party
planner to boot. In her passive/aggressive way, Helen keeps trying to help
Annie while undercutting her at every turn.
Okay, I know what the guys in our reading audience are
thinking… okay, I see the chick-flick part, but where is the gross-out
humor? Well, it’s an Apatow film, so as the old spaghetti sauce commercial
used to say, “It’s in there.”
This crass but hilarious laughs are provided by the
game Wiig and the other bridesmaids, also including Ellie Kemper (The
Office) and Wendy McLendon-Covey (Reno: 911).
However, the best moments belong to Melissa McCarthy of
Mike & Molly and Gilmore Girls in the Zach Galifianakis role
of the bridegroom’s crazy, butch sister. McCarthy’s eccentric line readings
easily steal almost every scene she is in.
Yet, luckily, Bridesmaids is able to create real
characters to supplement the mayhem. There is a sweet budding romance
between Wiig and a local policeman, played by British actor Chris O’Dowd
(Pirate Radio). Wiig also has some sweet moments with her mother –
which was the final role played by wonderful 70s actress Jill Clayburgh, who
died earlier this year.
The enemy character of
Helen is much more three-dimensional than we would have originally imagined,
with Byrne eventually allowing the woman insecurities and depth that we do
not originally expect. Hell, even McCarthy has a pretty damned well-done
serious(-ish) scene with Wiig, in which the crazy sister finally helps get
the Maid of Honor get some perspective on her life and problems.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2011 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: September 20, 2011.