After watching Bridesmaids, I tried to think of the last good pure comedies I’ve seen. 2010 was a bit of a lackluster year with only a couple of highlights that were kind of meh overall. Dinner for Schmucks and Date Night come to mind. There was nothing relatable or memorable among them. Thankfully, Bridesmaids reminds us why a Judd Apatow/Paul Feig combo was meant to be. Since I fell in love with them via Freaks and Geeks, they’ve just known how to do it right and make it mainstream. But this gem was written by women (Kristin Wiig and Annie Mumolo) and that gives it the edge that keeps it firmly realistic even while mired in stereotypes.
Wiig plays Annie, best friend to Lillian (Maya Rudolph), who has been asked to be her Maid of Honor. We are introduced to every archetype of female acquaintance. The resentful and restless mother who wants nothing more than a crazy romp in Vegas, Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey), the chaste and naïve Becca (Ellie Kemper), the rowdy and butch Megan (Melissa McCarthy) and Lillian’s other self-proclaimed best friend, the beautiful and rich Helen (Rose Byrne). Helen is the catalyst to Annie’s undoing as she plays on her jealousy and feelings of inadequacy with which we women are oh-so-familiar.
Annie finds all her endeavors to please the bridal party fail and she is out of pocket what she couldn’t afford anyway, all while we revel in their hilarious pitfalls. There is nothing new here in terms of comedy, but classic can work. Poop jokes, drunk and disorderly, even some slapstick, nothing is out of bounds and nothing goes unappreciated when it’s done by a well-chosen cast. And they did choose well. It’s as if they scoured television to find the most under-appreciated and hilarious actors they could find. But Feig certainly knows how to find really good unknowns. It’s why we now know Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jason Segel and Jay Baruchel.
Jon Hamm and Chris O’Dowd play the polar opposite cliches that are involved in Annie’s love life. They couldn’t be more stereotypical. O’Dowd, best known as a lovable geek in Britain’s The I.T. Crowd, is appealing and interesting in his role, despite being the typical nice guy. Annie’s roommates played by Little Britain’s Matt Lucas and Australian actress Rebel Wilson offer small bits of awesome throughout the movie.
The interactions between the main ladies are both caricatures and a cross-section of what you might find in a bridal party. Wiig is the everyman to every single girl and she is brilliant in moments of absurd, awkward and extended hilarity. Rudolph is underused, often having to play it straight, but the moments where she and Wiig are allowed to really interact are moments of joy. McCarthy essentially steals every scene she is in as the brash but utterly confident sister of the groom. If you have seen her in something like The Nines (2007) or Mike and Molly, she’s barely recognizable. She is truly a formidable comedic character actor.
The films runs well over two hours but feels just right. We may not get another good comedy for some time so at least give us our fill. The comedy is not obscure but it is skillfully crafted based on many which came before it and is successful for a reason. It’s why Apatow comedies are almost a sure thing. The movie ends happily as it must and satisfies all our needs for raunch, competition, lust, sisterhood and a tidy ending.
Cat’s rating: 3.5/4