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Bridesmaids (Paul Feig, 2011)

 

The trials and tribulations incurred during the elaborate lead-up to a best friendís wedding are the source of some scattered comic hijinks in Paul Feigís diverting but unfocused Bridesmaids. This formulaic comedy is noteworthy largely due to the gender reversal at its core. Bridesmaids is clearly attempting to serve as an equal opportunity offender, subjecting its female cast to the same profanity-laden dialogue and gross-out humor that has defined the male-driven mainstream American comedy of recent years. Whether this shift represents a feminist coup is something debatable, but it does represent opportunities for a number of talented female comediennes (Kristen Wiig, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey, and Maya Rudolph) to show their stuff. While one cannot help but wish that the appealing supporting cast were given even more screen time, Wiig, who plays the lead role of Annie, seizes the chance here to define herself as a leading lady. Although the end results are less entertaining than MacGruber, which stands as her screen careerís highlight to date, Bridesmaids feels like a strong step forward for her.

 

Watching the film, one inevitably becomes concerned with the state of women in screen comedies, which might be an achievement. Where Bridesmaids absolutely fails, however, is in its slavish adherence to the lame dramatics that serve to fill screen time in the same male-driven comedies that this movie presents itself as an answer to. A great deal of Bridesmaidsí screen time involves the personal tribulations of Annie, who has lost her job, her friends, her boyfriend, and her creative drive. This emotional crisis never achieves a satisfactory resolution and, worse still, does little to create opportunities for comic set pieces. Bridesmaids stretches out over two hours, an unjustified run time for a film of this type, and these momentum-crushing sequences are squarely to blame.

 

In Bridesmaids, Annieís mid-life crisis is so beside the point that itís literally not funny. If the film intended to be more ambitious, it certainly had a ripe satiric target at its core. The question of excess, which lies in the endless succession of lavish parties in the lead-up to the overblown wedding that marks the filmís final scene is left almost entirely unexamined. Never does Bridesmaids ever aim for truly biting commentary, opting to settle instead for a series of poop jokes and scenes of social awkwardness. So while it seems somewhat unfair to complain that Bridesmaids never coheres into a stinging critique of the dehumanizing process of getting married, the presence of comedies like The 40-Year Old Virgin or My Best Friendís Wedding, which turn their respective character arcs into something more universal, stands as an indicator of Bridesmaidsí deficiencies.

 

50 

Jeremy Heilman 

06.15.11