** (out of 5)
May 13, 2011
Kristen Wiig as ANNIE
Maya Rudolph as LILLIAN
Rose Byrne as HELEN
Ellie Kemper as BECCA
Melissa McCarthy as MEGAN
Wendi McLendon-Covey as RITA
Directed by: Paul Feig
BY KEVIN CARR
Kristen Wiig gets her shot at headlining a film in the Judd Apatow-produced “Bridesmaids.” Like other films from this crew, “Bridesmaids” is full of crass humor and raunchy jokes, and it handily earns its R rating.
The story follows Annie (Wiig), a thirtysomething woman down on her luck. Her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) gets engaged, and Annie must put her biological clock aside to become the maid of honor. However, Lillian’s other best friend and fiancé’s boss’s wife Helen (Rose Byrne) threatens to take over the pre-wedding duties, sending Annie into a crisis of friendship and relationships.
There were several main sticking points I had with this film. One of them was that it just felt like “Bridesmaids” had something to prove. It wasn’t trying to be a fresh and original film as much as it was a seemingly desperate attempt to show that women can be raunchy, too. Whether it’s bathroom humor, vomiting or awkward sexual jokes, “Bridesmaids” was clutching at its own Judd Apatow pedigree.
Sure, this leads to some uncomfortable and sometimes humorous moments, but it just reeked of being unnecessary. Between this and the spring release of “Hall Pass” from the Farrelly Brothers, comedy filmmakers have proved that women can poop on screen and get a crass laugh from an audience.
But the female raunch aside, which doesn’t play offensive to me but rather desperate, the biggest problem I had with the movie was its characters. When all sympathies and cuteness is stripped away from Annie, it’s clear that she’s just a mean person. She’s vindictive, immature, whiney and completely self-absorbed. This may be an accurate portrayal of some women in the world, but that doesn’t make it fun to watch on screen.
Some might be tempted to call me a sexist because I’m taking issue with a female-centric raunch-fest while I’ve given films like “Superbad” a pretty good review. But there’s a huge difference. In a film like “Superbad” or any number of crass films like “Step Brothers” or even the original “Revenge of the Nerds,” the characters are supposed to be pathetic.
In “Superbad,” they’re eighteen-year-old high school grads, and no one ever accused that segment of society of having their shit together. In “Step Brothers,” Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly were inappropriately coddled man-children, which played into its silliness. In “Revenge of the Nerds”… well, they were nerds. You don’t expect any social graces out of those guys.
But in “Bridesmaids,” Annie is presented as the ultimate victim. She made some foolish business decisions and ended up losing her shirt. She’s got nightmare roommates, an AA-trolling mother and a best friend who is making her father overspend on a wedding in her 30s. But instead of pointing and laughing at Annie, the audience is asked to sympathize and identify with her. I just don’t buy it.
All characters and story elements aside, the film is geared towards fans of Wiig, who has been in an alarming number of movies but hasn’t had a chance to headline any yet. (I’m not counting last year’s “MacGruber” not just because it bombed, but because she was just a sidekick when all was said and done.)
I like Wiig as a comedienne. I think she’s got real talent. But like many other actors, she relies too much on her shtick in this film. You know the Kristen Wiig shtick I’m talking about… the hem-hawing and stammering, improv-style ? This worked great in movies like “Paul,” the aforementioned “MacGruber” and even her small part in “Knocked Up.” But a steady dose of this delivery for two hours just became painful to watch.
The one gem in this film is Melissa McCarthy, who is popularly seen on the TV show “Mike & Molly” right now. McCarthy has a real knack for comedy and delivery, and she’s a damn brave comedienne, putting her foibles out there for humor’s sake. And in the end, as damaged and insane as her character is, she’s a better person than Annie ever was. Sigh… if only the movie had been about her.
But I consider myself lucky. Here’s a movie from producer Judd Apatow that 1) is only slightly more than two hours, 2) features more than his stock cast of actors and 3) doesn’t feature his wife Leslie Mann and his kids just to show an audience how cute they are.
Now, if only Apatow could actually show some boobs in his next producing effort, I could become a fan again.