Film Review: Bridesmaids (2011)

Bridesmaids is an entertaining film. It's funny, it's heartfelt, and most of the audience I saw it with was interacting with the screen at the end, begging everyone to make the right decision so we got an appropriate happily ever after. This is not to say Bridesmaids is a perfect film. It's not. There are serious pacing issues, characters are inconsistently developed, and some issues that are placed as paramount in the film are never resolved.

An insanely natural and likable Kristen Wiig (where did these film star chops come from and why has Hollywood not used them before to this effect?) plays Annie, a 30 something woman on a downward spiral in life. Her bakery closed, her boyfriend left her, and she's living paycheck to paycheck with two insufferable foreign roommates and a job selling jewelry that forces her to confront her own disappointments on a daily basis. Her childhood best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) asks Annie to be her maid of honor at her upcoming wedding. This puts the spiraling adult in charge of the dress fittings, bachelorette party, and bridal shower. It also draws the ire of Lillian's new best friend Helen (Rose Byrne), who is practically perfect in every way except for how she constantly sabotages Annie's plans and takes credit for Annie's ideas. Can Annie pull her life together to give her best friend the wedding of a lifetime?

If that plot doesn’t work for you, try this one on for size. Kristen Wiig stars as Annie, a woman on a downward spiral in her life. Her business closed, her boyfriend left her, and her roommates are horrible people. Everyone tells her she has hit rock bottom, yet she keeps descending deeper and deeper into a pit of despair. Her passion in life--baking--has been destroyed by her failed business, and any attempt to get her to hop back into the kitchen causes her to pull further and further into a cocoon of isolation and neurosis. Can Annie pull her life together to rise above her setbacks, accept responsibility for her mistakes, and accept the love of a kind and gentle policeman?

Still not doing it for you? Well what about this plot? Kristen Wiig stars as Annie, a woman on a downward spiral in her life. After being asked by her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) to be her maid of honor at her upcoming wedding, Annie is thrown into a series of unending hijinks with the bridal party. There's the stir-crazy mother of three pubescent boys Rita (a welcome but underused Wendi McLendon-Covey), the groom's brash, outrageous, and sexually aggressive sister Megan (breakout star Melissa McCarthy who earns entrance applause and laughter after her initial scene), newlywed ginger Becca (Ellie Kemper), and privileged and practically perfect in every way Helen (Rose Byrne in pageant ice queen mode). Can Annie hold it all together while being pushed into unexpected wacky events with this ragtag bunch of mismatched bridesmaids?

So which of these plots is the story of Bridesmaids? The correct answer, sadly, is all three. Any one of these plot descriptions would have made a fine comedy film, but director Paul Frieg and writers Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo never bring the strands into a cohesive whole. You'll get a lovely heartfelt scene of Annie baking a beautiful cupcake for herself that has nothing to do with the unfortunate case of food poisoning that ruins the dress fittings that also has nothing to do with Annie competing with Helen for Lillian's adoration. Every scene works individually. That's not the problem. The problem is in producing an exceptionally ambitious comedy film, the creative team did not produce a cohesive film.

With all of that said, the only problem with the film is the balance between the three plotlines. Every scene authentically provokes an audience reaction, even if that reaction is laughing so you don't throw up at one of the most disgusting comedy sequences ever to get a nationwide release. You grow to feel for the main characters (Annie, Lillian, Helen, and Annie's love interest) even if it's at the expense of better developing the rest of the bridal party. Everyone in the cast gets a moment to shine and it never feels forced. I'd rather see an ambitious film put too much in and stumble than an unambitious film swing for the lowest common denominator and barely succeed any day. Bridesmaids earns praise in spite of its flaws because it is so ambitious and entertaining. Just see it already.

Rating: 7/10

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