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Thursday, 23 June 2011

Bridesmaids (2011)

The big trouble with movies which are hyped to kingdom come is that they often prove to be something of a disappointment when viewed or rather not quite as wonderful as rumours have it. Had I caught up with this film in due course rather than making a special trip to see it at the cinema, I might well have found it slightly more appealing and satisfying.  It is being sold to the public as the movie that finally proves that women can be as "funny" as men, if "funny" is taken in its modern context as being bogged down in fart, vomit and sex 'jokes'.  Coming from the Judd Apatow stable the movie is more or less what one expects from his past productions, only this time seen from the female prospective.  On this level it is a film that might appeal to both young men and young women in its cruder moments, rather than being labelled a 'chick flick', but it is more interesting as a dissection of the meaning of friendship.  Maybe you can accuse me as having had a humour bypass, since by and large I didn't find it particularly amusing (although one or two bits of business did make me laugh) and there was certainly a fair sprinkling of 'walk-outs' in the audience.  There was not, on the other hand, what could even vaguely be described as 'roars of laughter' during its grosser moments.

The movie has been described as the breakout role for its star and co-writer Kristen Wiig.  She plays something of a loser, Annie, whose bakery business has failed, whose finances are perilous, and whose love life has come down to a 'fuck-buddy', an uncredited Jon Hamm.  When her last remaining single friend and best friend since childhood, Maya Rudolph, announces her engagement and asks her to be her maid of honor, the stage is set for the somewhat crude comic action. She wants to help make the day special for her buddy, but is not set for the interference created by rich-bitch Rose Byrne's Helen who undermines all of her plans and who wants to usurp the BFF role.  Added to the mix are three other bridesmaids, two of whom bring little to the party apart from some bad language and some unnecessary girl-on-girl sex; the third, the groom's sister played by the massively overweight Melissa McCarthy is a breath of fresh air and very nearly (but not quite) the best thing in the film.

It does remain firmly Wiig's show.  She begins a tentative relationship with a laid-back state trooper (although why this role was given to Irish actor Chris O'Dowd -- charming as he may be -- is a good question).  She 'ruins' the proposed hen trip to Vegas by getting out of the control on the flight through a mixture of drugs and drinks (provided by Helen) with the result that the whole party are ignominously off-loaded en route and taken back home by bus.  She loses her apartment and has to move back home with Mom, a flaky Jill Clayburgh in her last role.  Finally she loses it completely at the Helen-organised over-the-top shower party and falls out with Rudolph.  In the film's most talked about scene her choice of a dodgy restaurant lunch results in all of them bar Helen losing control of their bodily functions (from all ends) in a white-carpeted, hoity-toity bridal salon.  Wiig's script is full of sharp one-liners and potentially amusing bits of business, but the film could have used a steadier hand from director Paul Feig and much tighter editing.  It certainly dragged in places between the 'funny' bits and possibly could have spent more time on the real meaning of friendship which burst through in the end.

I thought the sub-plot of Annie's peculiar relationship with her flat-mate played by the strange British comic Matt Lucas, together with Rebel Wilson playing his fat slag of a freeloading sister, added zilch to the plot and could well have been dropped completely.  This would have cut the over two hours running time to a more manageable and sharper whole.  Finally you might ask if I found any one part of the shambles really amusing; yes, I thought it hilarious when I saw Rudolph modelling her much-vaunted Parisian original wedding dress -- a monstrosity to end all monstrosities.  Maybe my sense of humour is weirder than I thought -- or just not sufficiently potty-based for modern sensibilities. 
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