Bridesmaids

In what’s proving something of an Indian summer for adult-oriented comedies (we’ve already had The Hangover part 2 and Bad Teacher, and Horrible Bosses is looming ahead), there’s been a consensus that Bridesmaids, written, starring and co-produced by Kristen Wiig and produced by Judd Apatow, is the one to watch. Ecstatic reviews have made much of the fact that it’s a rare female-led and oriented mainstream comedy that isn’t an insipid Lopez/Hudson/Aniston rom-com, and that blokes can enjoy it as well. As ever, the overwhelming hype is detrimental rather than beneficial to expectations of what is a refreshing and original, if flawed, spin on conventions.

Annie (Wiig) is a single girl in her late 30s, with a non-committal fuck buddy (played, in gloriously sleazy fashion, by an uncredited Jon Hamm), a dead-end job in a jewellery store and a best friend (Maya Rudolph) about to be married. As her maid of honour, Annie finds herself trying to compete with the too-perfect Helen (Rose Byrne), her own insecurities and difficulties and the other guests, who include the practically certifiable Megan (Melissa McCarthy). Even the hint of a genuine romance with an understanding police officer (Chris O’Dowd, of all people) can’t seem to get her life back on track.

Although there will no doubt be debate as to how much of a part Apatow played in the film’s gestation (it feels very much like Knocked Up and The 40 Year Old Virgin in its mixture of crudity and sweetness), this is really Wiig’s show. Expectations of an ensemble comedy are soon dispelled, and thankfully Wiig is a sufficiently talented and subtle actress to make her protagonist likeable, complicated, frustrating and relatable. She’s well supported by a credibly horrendous Byrne as the control freak Helen with ghastly taste, Rudolph as the sympathetic yet slightly short-sighted bride-to-be and McCarthy, essentially playing a distaff version of Zach Galifianakis’ character from The Hangover. There are lots of good lines, laughs and setpieces, not least a disastrous bridal fitting with the food poisoning from hell and all manner of bad business on board a plane.

The only real problem with the film, then, is one it shares with a lot of Apatow’s work; it’s about half an hour too long. This means that there are completely extraneous characters such as Wiig’s two English flatmates (step forward Matt Lucas), and, sadly, O’Dowd’s policeman, who is saddled with the film’s lamest and least convincing scenes. Thankfully whenever the pace slows, you know that round the corner is another killer one-liner, cringe-makingly inappropriate set piece or pithy observation on modern mores, which is enough to sustain you through the longeurs.

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