Director: Paul Feig
Cast: Kristen Wiig, Rose Byrne, Maya Rudolph, Chris O’Dowd, Melissa McCarthy
Watch Bridesmaids online in the UK: Netflix UK / Amazon Prime / iTunes / TalkTalk TV / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Google Play
With its bright pink poster plastered with The Hangover-bashing quotes, Bridesmaids was touted as a ground-breaking piece of female comedy back in 2011. For those who had missed Whip It and Easy A, a crowd of critics were lining up to shock you with their revelation: women are funny too. But then, you already knew that.
Let’s be clear: Bridesmaids isn’t revolutionary in its format. We follow Annie (Wiig), as she attempts to play maid of honour to her best friend, Lillian (Rudolph). There are dress fittings, nights out, a flight to Vegas – all the things you’d expect to see in a mainstream comedy.
But while token loud-mouth Megan (Melissa McCarthy) may not get much to do other than amusingly hit on an unsuspecting air marshal, other characters are superbly developed. For example, the gorgeous, rich and probably evil Helen (Byrne) – Lillian’s other, new best friend. While overlooked Annie’s life slowly falls apart around her, Helen wrests away control of the wedding, turning everything into a flawless display of class and wealth.
Annie ain’t none too happy about that. One inspired scene sees them out-speeching each other at a party, building from gentle tributes to Thai and Spanish-speaking contests. “We don’t even need words. A look says it all,” boasts Byrne, as Wiig stares psychotically at everyone. It’s like Bride Wars, but with actual humans.
These improvised skits really showcase the cast’s comic timing. Managing the tone, if not the runtime, Paul Feig’s direction gently nudges every set-up until it descends into natural farce; Annie wreaking destruction upon a giant novelty cookie at a bridal shower is as heart-rending as it is hilarious.
Other parts are less impressive. Inevitably, perhaps, for an Apatow-produced vehicle, the movie descends into laziness a little too easily. For every sincere guffaw, there’s a bit where someone does a poo in a sink. It’s not that gross-out comedy doesn’t belong in a female ensemble; it’s that people crapping themselves in the street isn’t always that funny.
Bridesmaids excels, though, because when they’re not vomiting in each other’s hair, the performers rise above it. Kristen Wiig – the first of many lead roles, after countless stellar supporting turns – nails the painful humour of her midlife crisis. She bakes cupcakes by herself, devours Jon Hamm’s pork, gets stuck with a 10-foot gate between her legs and remains nothing less than awesome at all times.
Well matched by the excellent Chris O’Dowd, Annie strikes up a romantic subplot with his loveable Irish cop, but it’s her relationship with Maya Rudolph that defines the movie – Wiig’s co-written script is about their strained friendship, not girls chasing boys. It’s no coincidence that we don’t even meet the groom that Lillian’s spending the rest of her life with; Bridesmaids is more concerned with giving its stars time to let loose their skills on camera. And they don’t disappoint.
So why the marketing campaign? Bridesmaids isn’t a comment on Hall Pass or The Hangover, or the other misogynist comedies that roll into multiplexes every year. It’s just a comedy. But although Bridesmaids isn’t revolutionary in its format, it is almost flawless in its execution: even with the formulaic jokes in the mix, this is an intelligent and amusing gem. After all, women are funny too. But then, you already knew that. In an age where the prospect of an all-female Ghostbusters is getting some boys’ pants in a twist, though, it’s worth taking another couple of hours to celebrate that fact.
Bridesmaids is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription. It is also available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription.
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