Published Jun 20 2011, 09:00 BST | By Stella Papamichael
If the title hints at a frilly chick flick about love and forever, then the opening two minutes of Bridesmaids
quickly and very wittily knocks aside those expectations. Kristen Wiig
(the virginal Ruth Buggs in Paul
) is thrashed about the bedroom by Mad Men
's John Hamm wearing little but a weary expression. That turns to despondency as she's shown the door and ends up riding it like a carousel horse because she doesn't want to bother him with showing her out. It's the start of a deliriously funny nervous breakdown exacerbated by news that her best friend is getting married.
Wiig, who cut her teeth on Saturday Night Live
and co-wrote the script, is merciless in her portrayal of Annie. She appears to suffer from an involuntary masochistic impulse and Hamm (stupid as well as smug in a departure from his adman guise) is just an extension of that capacity for self-harm. Best pal Lillian (fellow SNL
member Maya Rudolph) is the voice of better judgment, urging Annie to stop taking those booty calls. Of course that's easy for her to say with her shiny new wedding ring, but the friendship feels warm and genuine, even as they profess their mutual love with raisins stuck in their teeth. Then Rose Byrne comes along as co-maid of honour...
Unlike her brassy turn in Get Him to the Greek
, Byrne is all grace and elegance as Helen, Lillian's new gal pal and a threat to Annie who grudgingly shares the task of planning the wedding. Their face-off at the engagement party is brilliantly droll as each strives to get the last word in a toast to the happy couple. But however annoying Helen is, Wiig resists lapsing into bitchiness by making herself the butt of the jokes. Her life is falling to pieces, but it's her own drunken flailing that makes a bad situation worse and threatens to drive Lillian away. Stepping in to take some of the flak is Melissa McCarthy, hilariously butch and frisky as Lillian's future sister-in-law Megan.
At times this plays like an oestrogen-fuelled spin on The Hangover
, or one of Judd Apatow's bromance comedies (he's one of the producers), only because the group dynamics are more finely tuned than in the average rom-com and the laughs stem from that interaction rather than a contrived situation. Where the women must usually play it straight to irresponsible men, they have licence to goof off here, even stepping out for a hen party in Vegas (though free booze on the plane means they never get there). Toilet humour is factored in too, which wouldn't feel so inspired except for the rare disclosure that women don't always smell of sugar and spice.
Wiig's brand of comedy is loud, proud and just gosh darned funny. Her crowd is also more mature than we're used to seeing onscreen (in age only!), but she avoids the self-important pseudo-philosophising of Sex And The City
. Even so, the film is no less shrewd in subverting gender roles. Having older women in the frame (Byrne aside) also means their emotional baggage carries more weight and makes for harder hitting punch-lines. But the dream of true love is not entirely dead either. Our very own Chris O'Dowd plays the man who might save Annie from herself, but their romance is only a subplot in a bigger picture. Ultimately it's up to Annie to realise her true value. Certainly, as regards comedy, Wiig is worth her weight in gold.
What do you think of the movie? Share your views