Stars: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Chris O'Dowd, Melissa McCarthy
Director: Paul Feig
For Hollywood these days, gross-out translates to gross receipts at the box office. And every gross-out comedy appears to be trying to outdo the previous one. Even if the story line is halfway believable, the rules of this one-upmanship dictate that certain scenes have to be played over the top silly, outrageous, or cringe-worthy--because it's a contest, you see. What's remarkable about the Judd Apatow produced Bridesmaids is that it's a chick flick, written by women, but pulling no punches when it comes to raunch and bodily excretions emerging at inopportune times. Men have always secretly known (or probably hoped) that women were just as gutter-mouthed and sex minded as we are. Now we have Bridesmaids as exhibit "A."
There's no denying that the movie is bust-a-gut funny. The opening grabs you right off the bat, (think Kama-Sutra) and it's a wild ride from there on out. But some of the scenes play like over the top sketches from Saturday Night Live, where two of the film's stars-- Kristen Wiig (also the co-writer) and Maya Rudolph--cut their chops. The trouble with that is that from a believability standpoint, these movies are like musicals, where people are talking and going about their mundane lives--when suddenly an unseen orchestra starts playing and the characters break into song in the middle of some smelly garbage dump. Then everything reverts back to normal and we're not supposed to notice that something implausible has just occurred. Beneath it all, though, there's a sweet little story about feelings of inadequacy, jealousy, and the true nature of friendship.
Annie (Kristen Wiig) and Lillian (Maya Rudolph) are best friends from way back. Lillian announces that she's getting married and wants Annie to be her maid of honor. But subsequent events bring out the worst in Annie. She's in a superficial sex-buddy relationship with this superficial dude (Jon Hamm) who, as they're lying there in bed, says stuff like, "I want you to leave but I don't know how to say it without sounding like a dick."
So maybe, underneath her outward expression of joy for Lillian, Annie is jealous of what her friend has. That jealousy rears its head in a bigtime rivalry (and spoof on the stereotypical cattiness of women) with Helen, (Rose Bryne) the groom's wealthy sister who is financing the lavish wedding and all its preparations. Annie is incensed that Helen is trying to claim best friend status with Lillian, and each tries to one up the other in a scene where they are mouthing platitudes to the lucky couple into a microphone...on and on and on...because each of them wants to have the last word. This scene (unlike most of the movie, thankfully) leaves one cringing and feeling embarrassed for both of them.
Annie reveals herself as mentally unstable when she gets boozed up and goes berserk on a plane flight, and gets hauled in by the authorities after an unscheduled landing, in what is the funniest scene in the film. But the next shot shows her driving down the highway, apparently turned loose with just a slap on the wrist for behavior that, in the real world, would get anyone in BIG time trouble. Reminds me a little of Sandra Bullock's character in All About Steve, who is obsessed with this news reporter and stalks him all over the country...and in the end we're supposed to believe she's not a psychopath--just misunderstood.
I guess I'd be remiss if I didn't describe some of the gross-out stuff, so you can decide for yourself if Bridesmaids is for you: The entourage of gals who will be maids at the wedding get struck by some apparent food poisoning. While one of them hangs her head over the toilet, another hops butt first onto the sink to gain some relief. Another gal rushes in and barfs on the hair of the one who is stationed over the toilet. Lillian runs out of a shop, desperately trying to find an unoccupied rest room. She doesn't make it, and has to take a dump right in the middle of the street--in the expensive wedding gown she was trying on.
ALL THIS AND A MUSICAL CAMEO BY WILSON PHILLIPS TO BOOT!
Bridesmaids also disturbingly reminds a practical-minded guy like myself of how delusional people are--spending obscene amounts of money on an event which last for a few hours--as if they've accomplished something, when they haven't proven anything to the world yet about making it work over the long haul. Stay together for a couple years, THEN have a big celebration.
You've earned it.
GRADE : B (I'd be a traitor to my gender if I rated a chick flick any higher!)