I haven’t been in a movie theater in ages. Though there isn’t really a reason for this, when the idea of going to the movies came up this weekend, I thought, “hey, what a great time to see Bridesmaids.” The pre-movie buzz for the movie was almost deafening. From strong showings at film festivals, terrific scores on Rotten Tomatoes, and many hailing it as “the female version of The Hangover.” Why not take the chance to end a dry, movie-going spell?
In the end, I can honestly say Bridesmaids is not the female version of The Hangover but rather a damn funny movie that’s worthy of the praise it’s getting. A terrific cast and great chance for really funny women to do what they do best. There’s improv, there’s witty dialogue, and completely gross-out moments. Is it flawless? No. Is it worth your time? Totally!
First off it needs to be clarified – this is not an ensemble movie, as much as the ads and marketing want us to think there was some kinda fem-wolfpack happening. Bridesmaids is most certainly a Kristen Wiig vehicle, in which we follow her character Annie as she struggles to reclaim her life after being kicked around. She’s lost her way, self-worth, is living with some very weird albino British siblings, and is trying to figure it all out as it everyone around her appears to have it so together. Most notably, Helen, played by Rose Byrne, who makes it look effortless and is subtly encroaching into the Maid Of Honor role for Lillian, the bride in question played by Maya Rudolph. Lilian is the lifelong friend of Annie and getting hitched to a decidedly mute man, played by Tim Heidecker. Byrne serves as the film’s main enemy, but in the end its Wiig’s character Annie’s own struggle that’s the impetus for much of the movie’s action.
Though it’s not all the gang all of the time, the extremely hilarious and best moments happen when the group gathers. We aren’t introduced to them until about 20-25 minutes into the film but when they get together, there are at least three separate scenes when the scene-stealing Melissa McCarthy, underutilized Wendy McLendon-Covey, and somewhat invisible Ellie Kemper deliver the memorable moments of the film. In fact, I’d rank the bridal fitting scene as one of the most outrageous and funny moments of recent memory.
A lot will be said about the women of this film but we can’t write out the men. Though he was collectively on screen for maybe 5 minutes, Jon Hamm pulls off the incredibly dickey, womanizing playboy Ted, who trysts with Annie because she has low self-esteem and he’s well, a douche. Chris O’Dowd’s portrayal of Rhodes, is subtle, sweet and makes you want to root for him to end up with Annie, if she can just pull it together. Rhodes is the guy you want to take home to mother, start a family with, and always rely on. Someone Annie isn’t initially ready to have in her life. Hell! There’s even a super-brief, but funny Terry Crewes moment.
It’s obvious to say Bridesmaids is a good movie, but what needs to be said is that Bridesmaids could’ve been a great movie. In fact, the movie’s hangups are irksome, and for as developed some characters are, some just are not. The ensemble cast that this movie is supposed to boast really isn’t an ensemble. More than half of the women on the movie poster seem to exist simply to round out the size of the bridesmaids party. Both Ellie Kemper and Wendy McLendon-Covey were virtually background scenery, two actresses who are tremendously skilled in improv and could’ve had meatier parts. Rose Byrne’s Helen was also deserving of a better redemption than she got.
By the end of the movie, McCarthy’s character Megan owns one of the more interesting arcs of the film, she does however suffer from a crisis of identity. A confident woman, but maybe too tomboyish. She also gives off all the stereotypes of a lesbian but is hitting on men in throughout the film. Not that she needs to be pigeonholed, I was just left wondering what she was “going for” with certain aspects of her character.
And this brings us to the biggest flaw of the movie and probably the one that effects it’s enjoyment most… it’s long. As with pretty much every Judd Apatow movie, you can slice about twenty minutes off the overall running time and it would be a better movie. In fact, the editing of the film paces it slower than it should be. We’re nearly 20 minutes into the film before the premise is set up via engagement. Long, drawn-out scenes often keep us from the next riotous bridesmaids meet up. We’re also subject to good funny gags lasting too long. Case in point, a terrific airplane scene that ended up in need of a few more edits. And as we near the movie’s end, comedy in threes should be sufficient with Annie’s attempt to get Rhodes’ attention. But this scene being drawn out is particularly taxing since it’s also the very moment Annie is set against the clock to find a character and save the day.
The slow pacing of the movie drags out time in between hilarious group scenes and they ultimately take the film down a notch because it’s not constantly funny.
All-in-all, Bridesmaids is worth the time, a terrific group of comedic actors truly made something funny. But if you are expecting a comedy phenomenon of a movie, it shoots for the moon, but falls amongst the stars.