“Bridesmaids” (Dir. Paul Feig, 2011)
On his highly addictive popcast “WTF,” comedian Marc Maron often talks about comic actors that have a grasp on exactly what’s funny about them. In scene after scene of “Bridesmaids,” Kristen Wiig nails exactly what’s funny about her.
Lately Wiig has been so overused on Saturday Night Live reprising obnoxious characters that weren’t that amusing in the first place, and then at the same time she’s underused in a string of sideline parts in movies such as “Paul”, “Extract”, “Macgruber”, “Ghost Town”, “Date Night”, etc. that it’s so satisfying to report that her first starring role is a real winner.
Wiig’s mastery of nervously nuanced body language, and naturalistically awkward line readings carries her hapless heroine Annie here hilariously through this uber affable film.
As a former bakery owner turned jaded jewelry store clerk whose life is going steadily downhill, we first meet Wiig in bed with Mad Men’s Jon Hamm in the funniest sex scene since “Team America.”
Hamm is, in his own words on Conan, an unrepentant douche-bag, who only wants no-strings-attached sex, but it’s obvious that Wiig wants more. Hamm just has a small, and oddly un-credited role, so we know that’s not where this is going.
Wiig’s best friend since childhood Maya Rudolph is getting married, and our sardonic sad sack heroine finds out she has competition in the Maid of Honor department in Rose Byrne as Rudolph’s new upscale best friend.
There are shades of Wiig’s Penelope character from SNL, in a good way, in a bit at an engagement lunch as Wiig and Bryne keep trying to upstage each other, stealing the microphone from each other back and forth in vain to get the last word in.
The other bridesmaids that make up the wacky wedding group are Reno 911’sWendy McLendon-Covey, The Office’s Ellie Kemper, and Mike and Molly’s Melissa McCarthy whose abrasive fearless performance comes close to stealing the movie, as funny as Wiig is.
On a plane to Vegas, Wiig gets drunk and tries to crash first class repeatedly while the rest of the cast gets in their own crazy predicaments which I won’t spoil. It’s a uproarious scene, but it’s far from the funniest ones on display, as a great sequence featuring Wiig breaking every law in the book driving up and down the road in front of a cop she had a fling with (Chris O’Dowd) tops it. I really can’t explain how this comes about – you’ve just got to see it for yourself.
As that bemused cop, O’Dowd has charming repartee with Wiig and joins the well chosen cast which notably includes the last film role of Jill Clayburgh as Wiig’s ditzy celebrity portrait painting mother.
Despite its predictable rom com trappings and some unnecessary gross-out humor (I could’ve done without a food poisoning/vomit scene in an expensive dress shop), “Bridesmaids” is one of the funniest films of the year so far (that might not be saying much, I know).
There are more laugh out loud moments than I can count, and Freaks and Geeks creator Feig (who also helmed episodes of Mad Men, 30 Rock, The Office, and Arrested Development BTW) does a great job shaping the material written by Wiig and Annie Mumolo with a touching tone and, for the most part, great timing.
And coming from the Judd Apatow production line it’s a welcome change from the usual boy’s club fare.
Ignore the accusations of “Bridesmaids” being a female version of “The Hangover” (although they did cut a Vegas party scene because of the similarity) and the superficial resemblance to such chick flick crap as “Bride Wars,” because this is an extremely funny movie that really should make Wiig a star.
“Bridesmaids” opens at nearly every multiplex in the Triangle today.