“Here Come the ‘Bridesmaids’”
By Scott Mantz
Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne
Directed by Paul Feig
It feels like Kristen Wiig is everywhere these days. In the past year alone, she stole her scenes with supporting turns in the comedies “Paul,” “Date Night” and the under-rated “MacGruber,” she supplied the voice for computer-animated characters in “Despicable Me” and “How to Train Your Dragon,” and then, of course, there was her weekly presence on TV’s “Saturday Night Live.”
Now Wiig has her first bona-fide lead role in a feature film, and all I can say is, it’s about Wiigin’ time. Or maybe it was worth the wait, since in addition to starring in the raunchy comedy “Bridesmaids,” Wiig also co-produced the film and co-wrote the smart screenplay (with Annie Mumolo). The hilarious result not only proves that Wiig can carry a movie, but it also fits the bill as an instant R-rated classic that could give the upcoming “Hangover Part II” a run for its money.
Wiig plays Annie, an aspiring pastry chef from Milwaukee who has fallen on hard times. She’s broke, she’s in her late 30s and she’s still single. At least she still has her longtime best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph), who just asked her to be one of her bridesmaids. But what should have been a wonderful occasion turns into a disaster, especially when Annie finds herself competing with a wealthy rival named Helen (Rose Byrne) for the coveted role of maid of honor.
“Bridesmaids” can best be described as “The Hangover” for women (or a chick flick for men), but even that doesn’t do it justice. Beyond having a riotous cast that also includes Wendi McLendon-Covey (“Reno 911!”) as Lillian’s burned-out housewife cousin Rita, Ellie Kemper (“The Office”) as Lillian’s naïve friend Becca and Melissa McCarthy (“Mike & Molly”) as Lillian’s uncontrollable future sister-in-law Megan, the story is filled with deep moments of poignancy as Annie accepts the fact that her life didn’t turn out the way she thought it would.
But thanks to producer Judd Apatow (“Knocked Up”) and director Paul Feig (TV’s “Freaks and Geeks”), vulgar comedy ensues, starting with the bridesmaids’ trip to a posh salon to try on wedding dresses. Things don’t go quite as planned when the ladies come down with a severe case of food poisoning, which is soon followed by an ill-fated bachelorette party to Las Vegas that’s aborted when Annie gets drunk and looses her cool on the plane.
More often than not, Annie is the cause of her own misery, but Wiig still succeeds in making her character entirely sympathetic. And she still has a few good things going for her, including her ever-supportive mother (the late Jill Clayburgh, in her final film role) and a sweet-natured state trooper (Chris Dowd) who sees past her self-loathing to develop a huge crush on her. Rose Byrne also does a terrific job as the wealthy socialite who stands in Annie’s way, and she follows her comedic turn in last year’s “Get Him to the Greek” with another funny performance that will surprise those more familiar with her serious work on TV’s “Damages.”
The problem – and the only problem – with “Bridesmaids” is that it’s just too long. There’s no reason for a movie like this to be 2 hours and 5 minutes, and you can feel the film straining to sustain itself during the last half-hour. But that’s a minor complaint, since it’s so funny and moving, and Kristen Wiig gives such a strong standout performance. So after years of being the bridesmaid with supporting roles, Wiig is finally the bride – and like I said, it’s about Wiigin’ time.
Verdict: SEE IT!