When’s the last time you laughed so hard in a movie your face hurt? Tears streaming, clutching your sides, panting for minutes afterward. It can happen. It may be few and far between lately, but just when you thought we’d seen it all from the Apatow Productions canon comes a film that does this for the first time since The 40-Year-Old Virgin. I won’t tell you when it happens, but just be sure to prepare yourself when you buy your golden ticket to see this year’s hands down funniest film, Bridesmaids.
While producer Judd Apatow may be better known, director Paul Feig has had his hand in some very funny productions as well. Mostly working in the TV realm, his feature films have been fleeting with only three before this (Life Sold Separately, I Am David, Unaccompanied Minors) and of those three you may have only heard of one. But now Feig finally stakes his claim on the big screen. Bringing with him a “stone-cold pack of weirdos” of leading ladies comes the funniest (and surprisingly heartfelt) comedy we’re bound to see in 2011.
Special thanks has to go to the film’s First Lady, Kristen Wiig. Making her name in TV as well, she’s managed to bring us some of Saturday Night Live’s most memorable and outrageous characters seen on that show in some time. Mostly kept in the background stealing scenes from the likes of everyone from Jason Segel to Katherine Heigl (admittedly not hard on this one), to John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell. And don’t be so quick to pass this off as another Lorne Michaels offering. This is a shining example of the hilariously heartfelt that Apatow Productions has been offering since Feig’s own Freaks and Geeks first aired all the way back in 1999.
In Bridesmaids, Wiig plays Annie who lives with British siblings Brynn and Gil (Rebel Wilson, Matt Lucas) and works at a jewelry store owned by Don (Michael Hitchcock) as a favor to her mother (Jill Clayburgh) who sponsors him at AA. She’s also recouping from the failed opening of a bakery with her ex-boyfriend. Now Annie tortures herself through repeated one night stands with Ted (Jon Hamm) who always just wants to ask her leave feeling like a dick one minute then picking her up stranded on the road proclaiming, “Hey, fuck buddy,” the next.
Annie’s best friend since childhood Lillian (Maya Rudolph) has just gotten engaged and asks Annie to be her maid of honor. While Annie may not live for the finer things in life, Lillian has moved on and is about to marry the wealthy Dougie (Tim Heidecker, who interestingly has maybe two lines in the whole movie). At the world’s most extravagant engagement party we meet the rest of the wedding party and our pre-mentioned “pack of weirdos.” There’s Lillian’s resentfully married with children cousin Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey), newlywed Becca (Ellie Kemper from The Office), and Dougie’s sister Megan (Melissa McCarthy), a female Gary Busey spinoff who talks like The Narrator in Fight Club.
Finally, there’s Lillian’s seemingly new best friend Helen (Rose Byrne) who’s married to Dougie’s boss and the two have become very close over the past eight months. Immediately it becomes a competition vying for Lillian’s affections between Helen and Annie with one being able to afford her the finer things in a friendship while the other brings a lifetime of companionship and memories. Annie won’t budge from her position that Lillian will always be the friend she grew up with while Helen continues to fight her tooth and nail that people grow up, change and move on with their lives. Hilarity swiftly ensues and to say anything more about what that entails would be a huge disservice. What Wiig and her co-writer Annie Mumolo (hilariously playing Nervous Woman on Plane) have in store for you is true comedy gold.
For a comedy like this to work, it’s a good thing Feig knows the first rule to such outlandish set pieces. Any time something happens that’s so funny you’re sure the audience will still be laughing five minutes after it’s happened you have to have a tiny bit of padding. While these scenes themselves feature some hilarious bits themselves, Feig, Wiig, and Mumolo know that you have to allow time for the audience to catch their breath. The Farrelly Brothers used to know this back when they made There’s Something About Mary, Apatow has always known this, and thankfully everyone here knows it. It’s also nice to see the rom-com elements actually work for a change. There’s surprising chemistry between Wiig and local law enforcement Rhodes (Chris O’Dowd), who’s nothing but encouraging about both their relationship and Annie getting back into the baking business.
While some of the film plays out like small vignettes, everything slowly snowballs into outright hysterics but in the sense that they should be, meaning that the audience is dying laughing. Every single cast member brings their A-game and even one of the funniest jokes gets saved for the end making sure to leave a lasting impression. Just when it looked like chick flicks had been finally run into the ground last week by Something Borrowed (the Little Fockers of romantic-comedies) comes Bridesmaids to set the bar (for comedies in general as well here) right back where it belongs.
Photos courtesy Universal Pictures