Movie Review: Bridesmaids (**)


BRIDESMAIDS.  125 mins.  R.  Directed by Paul Feig.  Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig.

In all respects, I really should have loved Bridesmaids.  I'm a big fan of female comedians, especially Kristen Wiig.  I never met a Judd Apatow production I didn't like (okay, maybe that last hour of Funny People kind of tested my patience).  And the R-rated humor in Bridesmaids is definitely up my alley.  But after about 45 minutes of muted, flat comedic bits, I found myself jumping ship on the movie and it lost all benefit of the doubt after that.  All the shitting in a sink moments in the world couldn't save it.  More on that in a sec.
Co-written by Wiig and directed by Freaks & Geeks creator Paul Feig (respect), Bridesmaids tracks the escalating personal meltdown of Wiig's character, Annie, after her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) gets engaged and asks her to be the maid of honor.  Annie quickly butts heads and finds herself in competition with Lillian's new friend (and fellow bridesmaid) Helen (Rose Byrne).  Not much else happens.  The movie is thinly plotted to say the least.
It's hard to get a read on the character of Annie.  She's not very fleshed out and kind of changes personalities depending on the whims of the script.  Wiig sets her up from the start as kind of a walking doormat, never one to ruffle feathers.  Her pastry business closed, she's sleeping with a complete douche (Jon Hamm, wasted in a thankless role), and she's coasting at a job her mom got her.  Yet, many of the big comedic moments have Annie acting out and behaving in ways that are cringe-inducing, sure, but not very believable.  I'm not sure what Wiig was attempting in the role, but the end result is not cohesive.
The other characters don't fare much better.  The Office's Ellie Kemper and Wendi McClendon-Covey are an afterthought as two of the other bridesmaids.  Their one big moment involves an out-of-nowhere lesbian kiss that comes and goes without any further comment.  Rudolph is fine as the bride-to-be, but isn't given much that's funny to do other than shitting in the street or singing along to Wilson Phillips.  Mike and Molly's Melissa McCarthy is probably the standout among the women.  She's given a lot of weird, random things to say.  Some funny, some not.  And she gets to shit in a sink.  She's the Zach Galifianakis of the movie.
So much shitting in this movie.  And it's all in one scene!  That scene, involving the ladies eating some bad Brazilian meat and getting sick, goes way broad, hijacking the tone of the movie for better or worse.  Many in my theater laughed hysterically.  You may too.  For others, it could just be a dealbreaker - it was for Julie.
There are moments in Bridesmaids I liked.  I enjoyed Annie's roommates - two overweight Australian siblings.  Their scenes were probably my favorite.  Annie also has a sweet little romantic subplot with a kind Irish cop (Chris O'Dowd).  Nothing amazing there, but it does the trick for this sort of thing.  But these few moments of pleasure are slowly pummeled away by the movie's overly long running time.  Like other Apatow comedies, Bridesmaids overstays its welcome and goes on for about 25 minutes longer than it should.  Maybe tighter pacing would have covered up some of the glaring shifts back and forth from subtle to broad-styles of comedy.
The biggest problem I had with Bridesmaids though is that I didn't laugh out loud once.  There are some funny lines, and many scenes had the potential to be great, but the movie never really clicked for me.  I respect everyone involved here, but absent any visual flourish or style, a comedy has to be really funny to succeed and I don't think Bridesmaids did.  Clearly, I'm in the minority.  The movie's batting a 90% on, which tells you something: this is the most overrated movie of the year so far.

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