Near the long-delayed end of Bridesmaids, Maya
Rudolph appears as the reluctant bride dressed in a white gown with a
pile-up of so many ruffles, veils and flounces that she resembles an
overdecorated wedding cake. Her outrageous get-up could be a symbol of
the film itself. It’s an overly contrived jumble, trying out too many
comic ideas that eventually swamp the central subject of what a modern
young woman expects regarding friendship, courtship and marriage.
scene-stealing costume miscalculates Rudolph’s supporting role, and the
try-it-on-for-laughs style typifies the sketch humor approach that
ultimately makes Bridesmaids dissatisfying. The film is supposed
to be about Kristen Wiig as Annie, long-time friend and maid of honor to
Rudolph’s Lillian. It is Annie’s frustrations about her own unattached
status, the trials of dating, then warding-off the affront of a new girl
horning in on her best-friend esteem, that gives significance to
bridesmaid status. Lillian models the ridiculous gown as a last-minute
show of confidence in Annie’s support but the moment—which ought to be
poignant— comes off as just another stunt.
This shows producer Judd Apatow’s insensitivity. He ruins Bridesmaids with the same over-long, undisciplined, selfinfatuated comedy that makes his own movies—Funny People, Knocked Up and The 40 Year Old Virgin—way too long. Apatow and director Paul Feig (TV’s Freaks and Geeks, Nurse Jackie) reduce Annie and Lillian’s friendship to a series of sub-Laverne & Shirley routines.
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that the film is also set in Milwaukee.
That could be Apatow’s idea of paying homage (and I give him props for
returning comic Franklyn Ajaye to the screen as Lillian’s dad). Yet,
once again, he drags second-rate, TV-banality into epiclength cinema.
Apatow touch—so backward and emotionally underdeveloped that it seems
“tetched” in the mentally suspect sense— always coarsens commonplace
behavior. Now his tetch taints specifically feminine experience. Bridesmaids’ highpoint—its
money shot—is the dress-fitting scene that comes after a bridesmaids’
luncheon so that food poisoning causes vomiting and diarrhea among
Annie, Lillian and the other bridesmaids wearing tulle, satin and lace.
They defecate and projectile vomit like frat boys at a kegger. It’s a
kneeslapper and gut-wrencher that’s Apatow’s answer to the
age-old question: Can girls be as gross as boys?
No doubt Bridesmaids was green-lit— and is now being sold—primarily on the basis of presenting a female version of The Hangover’s gross-out
humor. Guffaws are meant to take the place of characterization:
Apatow’s basic sitcom rationale. Moviegoers accept this crudeness as
part of our culture’s exercise of masculine privilege. But even romcom
audiences expect more from women; too bad Apatow doesn’t respect his
Kristin Wiig was able to give a dimensional, credible and funny characterization as the born-again skeptic in Paul, which is destined to be the year’s best comedy. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s Paul script
brought out Wiig’s wildness, while the role of Annie limits this game
comedienne to one humiliation after another. There seems to be a Saturday Night Live element
to the various embarrassments—as if they needn’t cohere
psychologically, merely exist as skits. Annie’s demeaning booty calls
with Jon Hamm contrast her flirtations with traffic cop Chris O’Dowd.
Her romantic awakening could have been a film in itself, yet it is no
more than sketched.
It’s frustrating that Bridesmaids keeps falling back on a female Animal House premise.
Blurring the line between actress and comic, Rose Byrne as competitive
Helen, Wendie McLendon- Covey as hard-bitten Rita, Ellie Kemper as Becca
and Melissa McCarthy (who promised greatness in The Nines) as the affectionately dykey Megan are limited by script constraints. Wiig, co-writing with Annie Mumolo, uses SNL mechanisms
instead of drama. Her on-screen rapport with Rudolph is wonderful;
Rudolph’s big smile and warm laugh certainly complements—and
humanizes—Wiig’s indefatigable clown. They are the film’s love match,
yet it’s part of what keeps Bridesmaids feeling like an SNL broadcast that won’t end.
Directed by Paul Feig
Runtime: 125 min.