Looking Back at 2010s Films: Bridesmaids (2011)

5 Oct

 

Image result for bridesmaids movie

By Tanner Smith

Continuing my series of Looking Back at 2010s Films, it’s the first of two Apatow productions to get a Best Original Screenplay Oscar nomination (the second being “The Big Sick”): “Bridesmaids!”

Let’s just forget about “Ghostbusters 2016” for now (or ever) and think back to a time when a film from director Paul Feig and starring Kristen Wiig would delight us and make us laugh. And here we have “Bridesmaids,” a comedy-drama about a woman who suffers a series of misfortunes after being asked to serve as maid of honor for her best friend.

I didn’t see this one in a theater. Having seen Wiig on “SNL” and only a couple movies at the time, she was very hit-or-miss for me. And the trailer didn’t look promising–it made the movie look pretty lame. But when I did catch the flick on DVD, it actually turned out to be pretty engaging. Wiig was hilarious (I think I liked her act even more after seeing this film), the whole cast was funny, the writing was sharp, and there was actually something more to it than comedy, to my surprise.

Why is it that so many good comedies have the worst trailers? (I didn’t want to see “Long Shot” based on its trailer either and that film was pretty good too.)

The Oscar-nominated script for “Bridesmaids” was co-written by Wiig and Annie Mumolo (who also acted as the paranoid airplane coach passenger). What I really like about Judd Apatow’s productions is that they give actors a chance to write their own stories (such as Steve Carell for “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” just about every Seth Rogen screenplay, Jason Segel for “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” Amy Schumer for “Trainwreck,” and of course Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon for “The Big Sick”). It’s a very effective way of saying, “I can’t get the right role for me, I’ll write the right role for me.” Kristen Wiig is really good here, playing a neurotic woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown due to the fear that she’s losing her best friend, which is the one thing she feels she has left in life. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s sweet, sometimes it’s bittersweet, sometimes it’s pathetic, and it’s always convincing.

Maya Rudolph is also good as her buddy who’s getting married, Rose Byrne is wonderful as the passive-aggressive Helen who threatens to steal Wiig’s “thunder” with her assertiveness, and of course…Melissa McCarthy. This was the movie that made Melissa McCarthy a household name and even gained her her first Oscar nomination, playing Megan, the wild card of the bunch of bridesmaids. I could blame this movie for giving birth to the typical McCarthy role that I usually can’t stand, but she’s just so damn funny here–maybe she had more of a filter here or she just trusted the writing enough to simply go with it instead of try to go beyond it.

OK, so the movie has funny people. But what about funny sequences? Oh yeah–this movie has plenty of those! Critics scoffed at the “bridal shop/food poisoning” scene; I thought it was so outrageous that it had to be hilarious, and I know I’m not alone. The plane scene? It displays some of Wiig’s funnier moments of her career, and I love McCarthy’s persistence toward a passenger she knows for sure is an Air Marshall. The bit where Wiig and Byrne desperately try to get Chris O’Dowd’s Irish cop’s attention? YES!

Speaking of which, I know a lot of people don’t really care for the Chris O’Dowd character and his relationship with Wiig, but I thought it was sweet enough. Who I could’ve done without were Rebel Wilson and Matt Lucas as Wiig’s odd British roommates who never got a single laugh out of me.

Oh, and Jon Hamm is also in this movie, playing a “himbo” Wiig often has fun with. This movie’s a little overloaded with wacky characters–some work, some don’t…I can’t say Hamm’s doesn’t work.

But there’s more to “Bridesmaids” than zany comedy. We also get a smart, convincing, very effective view on female friendship and competition–we see how the friendship could continue between Wiig and Rudolph after what they’ve been through together, we get a great deal of class-consciousness between Wiig and Byrne’s little feud, and there are great insights of companionship between the other bridesmaids, including when a tired mother/housewife (Wendi McLendon-Covey) gives advice to a newlywed (Ellie Kemper). And sometimes, even that can be a little funny.

Pretty good stuff here. “Help me, I’m poor.”

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