SXSW 2011 Review: BRIDESMAIDS

Kate Erbland

by: Kate Erbland
March 16th, 2011

Rating: 3.5/5

Writers: Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo
Director: Paul Feig
Cast: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose ByrneMelissa McCarthyEllie Kemper
Studio: Universal

Billed as a “work in progress” screening, Paul Feig’s BRIDESMAIDS brought plenty of laughs to the Paramount Theater in Austin for SXSW, feeling much more like a premiere for a fresh film than a cut of something still unfinished. Marketing may have led audiences to believe that the film is a straightforward, girls-gone-wild entry into a boy-dominated genre, but though the film is nothing short of hilarious, it’s much heavier and headier than anything else like it. There’s significantly more pathos to the film than its slapstick synopsis would lead you to believe – it’s not just THE HANGOVER for chicks, it’s a much more character-focused flick packed with real laughs.

Kristen Wiig pulls double duty here, serving as not only star of BRIDESMAIDS, but as co-writer on the film’s script (it marks the feature debut of Wiig and writing partner, Annie Mumolo). And don’t let the title fool you, this film could be more fittingly called MAID OF HONOR, because it’s almost entirely Wiig’s show. Wiig stars as Annie, a decidedly regular gal whose life is not going quite the way she had hoped. Annie’s life is not great, and it’s not because she’s a bad person. Her problems are relatable and realistic – she’s lost her business to a crappy economy, she’s entangled with a guy who doesn’t appreciate her, she feels as if her best friend is slipping away. And when that best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph), announces her engagement, it’s not as joyous to Annie as it would be if Annie’s life wasn’t so pale in comparison.

Putting on a happy face for Lillian is easy enough for Annie, however, as she truly loves her lifelong best friend and does want to make this special time in her life, well, special. But what’s not easy for Annie is dealing with Helen (Rose Byrne), Lillian’s bonkers, bourgeois new bestie intent on hijacking all of Annie’s maid of honor thunder, one-upping her at every turn, and making Lillian’s day all about her. Saddled with a stable of slightly bizarre other bridesmaids, including an outspoken sister-of-the groom (Melissa McCarthy), an uptight newlywed (Ellie Kemper), and a brassy cousin-of-the-bride (Wendi McLendon-Covey ), Annie sets out to do the damn best she can, even if it may kill her.

BRIDESMAIDS has some tricks up its sleeve – not sticking to paint-by-numbers comedy, not happy to follow trajectories from similar films. There are some unexpected twists in the plot that deliver gut-busting laughs, including a potty humor-driven dress fitting that puts most dirty boy flicks to shame, a new take on the “going to Vegas! Yeaaah!” bachelorette party, and a third act flip-out from Annie that’s both completely unexpected and totally necessary. Wiig is more than capable of carrying and leading a film, and it’s a real treat to see her step outside of her Saturday Night Live characters into Annie; she has toned down her reactions and expressions to form the character, who is both very funny and very real. She is no less than a pitch-perfect comedic leading lady.

Despite its work-in-progress designation, the film is apparently almost totally complete, not including some small colorizing and sound tweaks. BRIDESMAIDS certainly feels pretty complete, however, almost too much so. It clocks in at close to two hours, and it feels overlong and overstuffed for a comedy. It’s certainly a common problem among most most Apatowian comedies (the multi-hyphenate serves as producer on the film and is influence is felt throughout), films that consistently run too long to keep the humor evenly flowing. BRIDESMAIDS never collapses on itself, but it’s about twenty minutes too long and, with a number of sub-sub-plots that seemed designed purely for extra laughs with wow factor cameos (particularly Annie’s living situation), it needs a trim to really live up to its full potential.

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  • http://twitter.com/emdub52 Marc Walker

    I’m really excited that my girlfriend is going to take me to see this. Kristen Wiig is a comedic star and she is just getting started.

  • _TheCritic_

    @Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids was nothing like the ‘Hangover’ with the exception of well played raunchiness. What with it’s competition, it should be a no brainer. Watch this movie this weekend if you want to laugh. Check out my review at 
    @Kristen:disqus ttp://lacritic.com/2011/05/bridesmaids/

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