Everytime a much hyped US comedy appears on my radar I find myself getting excited and wary in equal measure. I don't know about you but I find myself regularly disappointed by many flagship comedies. The Hangover left me cold and while I was huge fan of Judd Apatow's TV work (including the oft overlooked teen dramedy Undeclared) many of his own films and produced by efforts let me wanting. One thing in particular grated on me, how such supposedly witty films consistently painted the female characters as shrill, one note harpies with no redeeming qualities.
Bridesmaid is from the same stable but takes a way more female friendly perspective on things. Co-written by it's star and SNL alum Kristen Wiig and actress/screenwriter Annie Mumlo, it had set tongues wagging before it had even set foot in cinemas. Industry sniping about female orientated comedies, hopeful bloggers expecting a feminist friendly flick and more importantly an actress like Wiig, unproven at the US box office opening her first major film.. Bridesmaids had alot resting on it's shoulders. Thankfully it has delivered on it's promise in spades with critical buzz abound in the US and a box office gross well over 100 million dollars.
And so it flies into Irish cinemas on a bed of hype. This was where I start to get nervous. How will it live up the any of my expectations? The trailer impressed and the wealth of talent involved gave me increasingly high hopes. I was lucky enough to view the movie at the Irish premiere. With some of the stars in attendance and a full house it was sort of the perfect way to view it with the big laughs and pithy script drawing many a belly laugh from the capacity crowd.
The plot is relatively simple. Permanently down at heel Annie is asked to be the bridesmaid of best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) for her forthcoming nuptials. Soon she has to contend with a rag tag group of friends in the bridal party, spearheaded by the neurotic and hyper efficient Helen (played with aplomb by Rose Byrne) and Lillian's future sister in law the gruff, boisterous Megan (Melissa McCarthy gleefully playing against type). Alongside this is the presence of two very different men in her life, the caddish casual sex buddy (John Hamm) and the earnest cop who seems to have her best interests at heart (Chris O'Dowd, who oozes charm throughout). To say anymore would ruin many of the surprises but suffice to say there are plenty of painfully funny scenes scattered through the proceedings.
The movie was reportedly improvised heavily off of the original script and that loose, chaotic vibe gives the film plenty of verve. Not only that but it manages to flesh out it's characters too. Too many comedies reduce characters to ciphers in pursuit of big laughs. Bridesmaids deftly brings to life it's motley crew of stifled mothers, repressed newlyweds and life long friends with some quiet character moments dropped in alongside the raucous gross out material. Without resorting to Sex and the City style over emoting, Bridesmaids serves up a tale of messed up, confused women groping for some sort of sense in the whirlwind of marriage. But despite this it's not a "chick flick". It has been a bit painful to see the moviemakers insist that this isn't just a "women's film". But, ultimately they're right. Bridesmaids is undoubtedly female orientated but also a brilliant character piece and more importantly very very funny in it's own right.
Bridesmaids is a pure joy to behold, gleefully playing with expectations and also serving up a seemingly endless stream of priceless moments. You owe it yourself to see this film.