I would argue that for a comedy to be satisfying it has to do more than simply make me laugh. Of course I want to laugh, and a lot, but if I’m sitting through a movie two hours long, as opposed to a half hour sitcom, I’d like more than my funny bone to be tickled. Bridesmaids did just the trick.
I raise my eyebrows when hearing comparisons between Bridesmaids and Hungover (I or II), although I suppose it’s inevitable, and I also take a piece of umbrage at the emphasis on Bridesmaids being a funny film with women in it, as if it’s a surprise that films with women in them can be funny. And then there are the comparisons with Sex and the City.
Bridesmaids tells the story of a couple of Thirtysomethings who have a lifetime of memories and experiences together. And then one of them, Lillian (Maya Rudolph) gets engaged to someone successful enough to be part of a country club. Naturally, she picks best friend Annie (Kristen Wiig) as her Maid of Honour. Annie’s life as a rubbish jewellery saleswoman, failed baking goddess and Fuck Buddy No 3 to Ted (Jon Hamm) is quite a contrast, especially when new rival best friend, the perfectly coiffured and shoed Helen (Rose Byrne) enters the mix, along with a few other women with… issues, including Megan (Melissa McCarthy) a woman with top security clearance and a thing for puppies. The path to the marriage is filled with a succession of nightmares, driving Lillian and Annie further and further apart. Annie may think she’s reached rock bottom but there is further to fall than that. Fortunately, there is officer Nathan Rhodes (Chris O’Dowd) keeping an eye on her from the other side of a speed radar gun.
The film comprises a series of set scenes that are hilarious – the funniest I’ve seen in quite a while. They have the wherewithal to make you cry with laughter and cringe with embarrassment at the same time -the engagement party, the dress shop, the flight to Vegas, the wedding shower. Excruciating and brave, hysterical and weepy, this is comedy at its finest and that has a lot to do with Kristen Wiig – actress and writer. And sharp.
Bridesmaids isn’t perfect – some scenes seemed clunky or ill-fitting, made to seem more so thanks to being sandwiched between scenes of such excellence. The scenes with housemate Gil (Matt Lucas) and his sister appeared out of place to me especially. In other places, a joke could be stretched a little bit too far – I’m thinking in particular here of the scene in which Annie and Helen try to attract the attention of Nathan.
There are also, though, moments alongside the attention-grabbing hilarious scenes that are quieter and poignant. Annie does indeed seem to spiralling headfirst down into a troubled place. She has lost the peace that baking brought her, she has been damaged by Ted, she is lost and genuinely distressed by her jealousy of Helen. That jealousy, as well as Annie’s other emotions, are blown up in Bridesmaids and expressed through scenes of great comedy, larger than life. The other bridesmaids have their own troubles – the virgin bride and the mother of teenage boys whose semen-stained sheets she could snap in half. Even Helen, the perfect Helen, is ugly when she cries.
There is grossness – there really is grossness – but it’s most definitely there for a good cause. It’s there to give us all, and Annie, a lift and a laugh as life throws down its challenges and upsets. And as a reminder to pick restaurants more wisely.
Did I mention how superb Kristen Wiig is?