Review: Bridesmaids (SXSW)

PLOT – Annie (Kristen Wiig) is dating a douchebag (Jon Hamm), her cake decorating business just went under and her roommates are driving her insane. The news that her childhood best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) is getting married should be a welcome shot of good news. But when Annie is named the Maid of Honor, she soon begins slowly unraveling with the pressure of dealing with another beautiful, wealthy and Type-A bridesmaid (Rose Byrne) and possibly losing her best friend.

[Ed. note: This review was of a work-in-progress print screened at SXSW.]

REVIEW – There’s a belief that we’re in something of a renaissance of funny women with actresses like Tina Fey, Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch and Amy Poehler all having considerable crossover success. And while I love each and every of those women dearly, they’ll soon be facing very stiff competition from Kristen Wiig.

Wiig’s omnipresence on “Saturday Night Live” has been something of a running gag the past few years and while she’s had admirable supporting roles in movies like MACGRUBER, ADVENTURELAND and WHIP IT, she’s never had a chance to shine in her own comedy. With BRIDESMAIDS, her first leading role, Wiig not only shines but delivers a star-making performance that will put her at the top of the list of comedic actors in Hollywood, male of female.

Described early on as a sort of HANGOVER for women, BRIDESMAIDS is actually anything but. The script, written by Wiig and partner Annie Mumolo, packs just as many laughs is layered with deep emotion, rare for a big studio comedy. The project fits very well into the oeuvre of Judd Apatow produced movies as this feels like it has far more in common with KNOCKED UP than THE HANGOVER.

Wiig is at her best when she’s playing slightly frazzled and a little unhinged characters and from the opening sequence, we begin to see how the script is slowly unraveling Annie so when the stress of planning a bridal shower and bachelorette party for her best friend mounts, the eventual meltdown doesn’t feel forced for comic effect. Wiig is also a great reactor and almost every funny joke has an equally as good reaction from Wiig who takes the laugh and ups the ante even further.

While Wiig is undoubtedly the star of the show and has written herself a role that will charm the pants off the audience, she’s surrounded by an able supporting cast including finally a solid role for ex-SNL-er Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne and, the Zach Galifianakis of the bunch, Melissa McCarthy.

If BRIDESMAIDS feel like a Judd Apatow movie, it also suffers from the “Apatow Bloat” – the phenomenon where critics feel the movie runs too long. At about 2 hours and 15 hours, BRIDESMAIDS is a little on the longer side, but while trimming about 20 minutes from the movie might make it a tighter comedy, it’s current edit actually makes it a better movie.

BRIDESMAIDS is often hilarious, always funny and vulgar but always in service of a story that’s both sweet and relatable. This is not BRIDE WARS. This is not a chick flick. This is a movie that will cement your physical and mental love affair with Kristen Wiig and could very well just be one of the funniest movies of the year.

Review: Bridesmaids (SXSW)




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