Girls gone (sort of) wild
With Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, 40-Year-Old Virgin) as producer and a trailer featuring a posse of raunchy gals eager for an epic party, you’d be forgiven for assuming that Bridesmaids was a cross between Girls Gone Wild and Bridezilla. Happily, star and co-writer Kristen Wiig (of SNL fame) has pulled off a real coup, delivering a smart and touching portrait of female friendship that is sharp, funny, and surprisingly true to life. Oh, and it’s rudely hilarious, too.
Wiig plays Annie, a likeable but messed up woman who lost both her bakery business and her fair-weather boyfriend during the recent recession. Now a poster girl for low self esteem, Annie is convinced she’s happy being the fuck buddy of a smug and patronizing lout who won’t even let her sleep over. Further provocation arrives when lifelong friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph, the SNL veteran who showed what a fine actress she was in Robert Altman’s Prairie Home Companion) excitedly announces her engagement. Of course she wants you-know-who to be maid of honour, and Annie is more than able to put aside any minor jealousies and embrace her best friend’s happiness; she has much more trouble when it comes to a bridesmaid named Helen (Rose Byrne, Get Him to the Greek). This wealthy, gorgeous, and impossibly polished creature not only starts acting like the bride-to-be’s best gal pal but also is manoeuvring to take control of the bridal shower and the wedding itself.
Relations between these two become an exercise in one-upmanship, breaking out into open hostility when Lillian, Annie and an amusingly mismatched group of bridesmaids head to Vegas for a wild weekend. Annie screws that up for everyone, but it is merely a down payment on the chaos that erupts when she goes nuclear at the postponed bridal shower, rescheduled at Helen’s ridiculously posh estate. Now banned from the wedding, estranged from her best friend, and self-sabotaging a budding romance with a decent guy, Annie has lots of work to do if she’s ever to achieve a Hollywood happy ending.
Although the plot outline to Bridesmaids is standard fare, what is so impressive here is the believability and depth of the characters who inhabit extremely funny and well-written scenes. Despite all the inspired comedic exaggeration, there is an underlying emotional truth that is heartfelt. Even the obligatory ultra-gross-out sequence when food poisoning literally erupts as the gals are being fitted for gowns at a snooty bridal boutique takes time for character development amidst all the diarrhea and vomit. This ain’t Citizen Kane, but Bridesmaids is a near-flawless piece of commercial moviemaking — one that has set the bar dauntingly high for all other romantic comedies. M