Kristen Wiig as Annie
Maya Rudolph as Lillian
Rose Byrne as Helen
Chris O’Dowd as Rhodes
Melissa McCarthy as Megan
Ellie Kemper as Becca
Greg Tuculescu as Kevin
Tim Heidecker as Dougie
Jessica St. Clair as Whitney
Rebel Wilson as Brynn
Matt Lucas as Gil
Jill Clayburgh as Annie’s Mom
Franklyn Ajaye as Lillian’s Dad
Michael Hitchcock as Don Cholodecki
Kali Hawk as Kahlua
Joe Nunez as Oscar the Security Guard
Wendi McLendon-Covey as Rita
Lynne Marie Stewart as Lillian’s Mom
Andy Buckley as Helen’s Husband
Molly Buffington as Helen’s Stepdaughter
Matt Bennett as Helen’s Stepson
Dana Powell as Flight Attendant Claire
Mitch Silpa as Flight Attendant Steve
Ben Falcone as Air Marshall Jon
Angelica Acedo as Flight Attendant in Coach
Richard Riehle as Bill Cozbi
Jon Hamm as Ted uncredited)
Directed by Paul Feig
When her childhood friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) gets engaged, 30-something Annie (Kristen Wiig) goes through a major life crisis. She hates her job and her roommates and the one man in her life (Jon Hamm) takes her for granted, but things get exponentially worse when Lillian’s wealthy new friend Helen (Rose Byrne) insists on taking point on every part of the wedding preparations despite Annie being Lillian’s maid-of-honor.
With Judd Apatow officially being hailed as the Godfather of modern comedy with a regular output of films–some of which he’s been more involved with than others–you have to be impressed with his eye for talent and his ability to get the most out of everyone he takes under his wing. With the wisdom of a sage, he’s given comedienne Kristen Wiig a chance to develop her very own feature comedy that fits perfectly into the existing Apatow oeuvre that includes “Knocked Up,” “Superbad” and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.”
The idea of doing a situational comedy based around the foibles of preparing for a wedding may not sound like anything new, but Wiig finds an original way into the material with a comedy that tries to show the real way women talk and act around each other, rather than making another glorified “chick flick.”
There’s a good reason why so many filmmakers have called upon Wiig to hold their comedies together, and in this vehicle tailored for her own strengths, she portrays the character of Annie as a solid, real woman, one whose dream bakery had been shut down months earlier, her insecurities thrusting her into a relationship with a complete A-hole who completely takes her for granted. The casting of Jon Hamm in that role may be a little too perfect, but he seems to relish bringing Don Draper into present day.
When her friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) announces her impending wedding, Annie begins a slow spiral into a complete nervous breakdown, her worries about losing her best friend to marriage compounded by the fact that Lillian actually has made a new friend in her fiancé’s boss’ far-too-young wife Helen (Rose Byrne), who proceeds to usurp Annie’s responsibilities as maid of honor.
From the very first scene, “Bridesmaids” sets itself up as a no-holds-barred look at how women interact with each other, which ranges from raunchy discussions about sex to one of the most violent tennis matches you’re likely to see. Roughly 45 minutes into the movie, it starts to drift away from the raunch and becomes more about Annie’s sweet but awkward relationship with a state trooper, played by Chris O’Dowd, but even his patience with her erratic behavior only goes so far.
“Bridesmaids” is made up of a lot of bits, some that have a direct relation to the story, some which are just there to keep the laughs rolling. As much as this is Wiig’s show, she’s surrounded herself with five extremely talented comic actresses and the first half is made up of the six of them doing all the customary bridesmaids activities from being fitted for bridesmaids dresses to a bachelorette party that never quite makes its destination. While some of it involves the type of humor we’ve seen before–Annie takes pills to relax herself before the flight and ends up going a little nuts–to stuff so disgustingly scatological you might get annoyed at yourself for laughing so hard.
Byrne is just as competent at getting laughs as Annie’s upper-class arch-rival as she was playing Russell Brand’s slutty pop star ex-wife in “Get Him to the Greek,” her composed bravado making the perfect counterpoint to Wiig’s neuroses. There’s a long history of funny fat men–Jim Belushi, John Candy, Chris Farley and Jack Black being a few–but the stigma on women in Hollywood to remain slim could very well have meant that we’d never have experienced the joy of watching Melissa McCarthy come into her own. McCarthy has been appearing on television and movies for years, but most people who see “Bridesmaids” will walk away remembering the movie for her outrageous behavior as the outspoken Megan. You have to give enormous props to Wiig, Apatow and director Paul Feig for realizing how great McCarthy’s character is and allowing her to steal much of the movie from its actual star.
As much as the movie follows a similar formula as some of Apatow’s own movies, filling every moment with gags involving even the most subsidiary character before getting more serious and real in the second act, it does break away from catering the fratboys to create something far more universal. The screenplay by Wiig and her friend Annie Mumolo, the duo’s first, is head and shoulders above the normal comedy script, really nailing so many aspects of real life from the transitional phase of friendship to not having enough money to roll with your long-time friend’s new crowd.
With so much estrogen running rampant on screen, it’s somewhat surprising to see long-time Apatow cohort Paul Feig directing the movie rather than a woman director, but having one guy overseeing everything keeps “Bridemaids” from turning into the type of excruciating man-hating experience that causes so many men to question their choice in mates after being dragged to see them. Feig absolutely nails every aspect of what’s easily the best film he’s directed. In one scene, Annie tries to get the attention of her state trooper lover to help her, a montage of gags that gets more and more outrageous as it goes along, showing Feig’s ability as a director to focus Wiig’s unlimited comedic talent to make sure none of the jokes ever get stale.
If there ever was any doubt Wiig’s talents as an actress matches her sense of humor, they’ll be forgotten as the role gives her the chance to show a wide range of emotions from sweet and friendly to out-and-out crazy and you’re on board with her all along the way. Her unbridled bravery to every scene as far as necessary to get just the right reaction really makes the movie what it is. She even opens the movie with a sex scene that may be even funnier than the one in “MacGruber,” if that’s possible.
The Bottom Line:
Whether you’re looking for a light and easy laugh or a rioutously funny comedy deep-rooted in the ups and downs of real-life friendships and modern romance, “Bridesmaids” will have you in tears. You can count it among the best from the Apatow crew and another career-defining moment for Kristen Wiig.