DIRECTED BY: Paul Feig
STARRING: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne
SHOWING: May 13, area theaters
“I just took a s**t in the middle of the street.”
And so culminates — in a rampant vomit and defecation scene that ends with bridal dress-wearing Maya Rudolph’s declaration — the darndest contrarian chick-flick to hit the screen since “Tank Girl.”
Like a pineapple upside-down cake, “Bridesmaids” is sweet, summery and tastes good going down, but tends to fall apart when you cut into it.
Kristen Wiig, who co-wrote the film with Annie Mumolo, plays Annie, a thirty-something failure who has just been selected as her best friend’s maid of honor.
The film establishes a close friendship between Annie and bride-to-be Lillian (Maya Rudolph) through a quick succession of lunch and workout sequences, but audience familiarity with Wiig and Rudolph’s shared SNL fame anchors the friendship’s tentative believability.
Their friendship is soon flooded by the parade march of Wiig’s co-stars and the film’s ragtag bridal party, which includes Reno 911!’s Wendi McLendon-Covey as an unsatisfied, moneyed housewife and the foul-mouthed Melissa McCarthy as a relentlessly brash comic relief who inexplicably dresses like a golf caddy.
Annie’s foil is the obscenely elegant and laughably refined Helen (Rose Byrne,), who’s clearly more qualified to handle the responsibilities of Lillian’s shower and plays up to the implicit rivalry with bumbling Annie.
The Judd Apatow-produced movie plays up to its expectations, as “Bridesmaids” follows in the tradition of candid comedies characterized by improvised and crude dialogue padded with subtly awkward silences — all couched in situations that border on the bizarre.
However, Paul Feig’s careful and stealthy moves as a director save “Bridesmaids” from becoming a full-blown vagina edition of a dick flick. Feig clearly managed to guide what is a novice script safely to its conclusion like a tiny sailboat rounding the Cape — without letting it fall apart entirely.
Like any comic project, “Bridesmaids” is full of one-liners and frank observations. The fountains of these zingers are most frequently found in the peripheral characters, like the cocktail slinging Rita and fearlessly ballsy Megan.
However, Wiig and Mumolo focus almost entirely on Annie’s character development. The contrived endearment for a hapless character — as she commits endless social faux pas and travails along Mr. Magoo-esque follies — forges a predictable narrative.
But Mumolo and Wiig play with these expectations. As opposed to seeing the main character pull her proverbial life together, they use Annie’s recklessness to their advantage.
However, the stories of the other bridesmaids are woefully incomplete. Rita’s lovelorn desperation and the sexual curiosity of prudish bridesmaid Becca (Ellie Kemper) are comic stones left unturned. Only the crass Megan is given any semblence of character revelation, and when it unfolds, it poses an anomaly to the sincerity that would otherwise ground the moment between herself and the depressed Annie.
“Bridesmaids” is a movie studded with comic talent, but it lacks a cohesive center. Wiig’s Annie is loveable, and only has minimal, if any, cloyingly cutesy moments. Feig’s stamp is clear on a movie that, even though missing a few narrative screws for the sake of punchlines, is a screwball knee-slapper that is always reeled in for that sensitive touch at the precise moment, in just the right place.
Two stars out of four
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