DIRECTED BY PAUL FEIG
STARRING: KRISTEN WIIG, MAYA RUDOLPH, ROSE BYRNE, MELISSA McCARTHY, WENDI McLENDON COVEY, ELLIE KEMPER, CHRIS O’DOWD with JILL CLAYBURGH and JON HAMM
‘Bridesmaids’ shouldn’t have been about Bridesmaids – it makes it sound like a Venus answer to ‘the Hangover’ where it’s a bridal shower instead of a bachelor party. On the other hand, it promises to be a chick-flick that dies to disagree. But it startles one and all with an incredible display of heart that more than compensates for the crassness of humour in many a place. It’s a loud and frontal statement against men that humbly resigns when its views don’t apply. It’s sincere, and in that it’s a first – a film that wants to be honest to all alike. Man and Woman, Husband and Wife; Mother and Daughter (all adults, of course!) Siblings of the world might protest citing unfair treatment, but that’s another story.
Kristen Wiig writes herself in Annie Walker, an underachieving, out-of-work baker selling novelties for a living. She’s good with stuff but she’s bad at selling them – kind of like Randal from ‘Clerks’ except she’s a little sensitized with her cynicism. Hers is circumstantial, while his was just plain post-adolescent disinterest: She’s a burnout, or that’s what she thinks. She frequents a man who screws her over and over (literally), lives with aliens (a brother and sister pair from Britain) and is best friends with Lillian (Maya Rudolph) who’s getting married and married big. Annie is made ‘Maid of Honour’, an ordeal unfitting of one without a life of her own. With that, Wiig throws an ultimatum at Katherine Heigl’s '27 Dresses'. And I don’t even have to tell you who comes on top.
Our women don’t fraternize; they fleece each other. It’s a rat race up to the pedestal where it’s all about taking giant steps. The entire male kingdom would wonder why it’s so important to be vied for. In Annie’s defence, it’s understandable – she’s the best friend and hence wants to stay so. For Helen (Rose Byrne) it’s just plain, raw ego. I can’t imagine why Kristen Wiig didn’t play her part instead of retracting to the ‘shit-taking’ Annie. One reason could be the fact that she’d already been the annoying stereotype in Judd Apatow’s ‘Knocked Up’. Another could be because she wrote the whole thing anyway and it didn’t matter anymore. She’s had her laugh already, so she’d rather wait till the end for seconds.
Rose Byrne is a revelation. It’s difficult to ascribe villainy to her Helen, but she does a good job trying not to emphasize. She’s less-talk-more-work than being the face-contorted chick-flick meanie who we’re all supposed to hate; she's more 'vixen' than 'evil b*tch', if you get what I'm saying. But we still hate her because we take Annie’s side of the argument, which in turn we do because Annie floods the film with adept rationale, her gaping flaws being fun to mend. In short, she’s likeable and once in her shoes, Helen turns nemesis. Jon Hamm as the sexually aggressive Ted exists to make Nathan Rhodes (Chris O’Dowd) respectable even though he does a fair job by himself. He has the laughing drawl of Seth Rogen and his eyes twinkle with stony, middle-aged sincerity inviting abuse, except he won’t take any. I like how the writers (Wiig and Annie Mumolo) extract convincing characters out of stereotypes, more visible in the film’s women than the men. It’s the company that brings a chick-flick down, but in ‘Bridesmaids’ they’re kept coherent and intact, even exciting in a fair share of moments. Like when Rita (Wendi McLendon Covey) complains about raising teenage boys; like Megan (Melissa McCarthy) when she calls her bridegroom-brother an ‘ass-h*le’ amidst the other bridesmaids. The quintessential pick-me-up monologue towards the end has its quirks as well, not to mention the (in)famous restroom sequence of ‘Girls Gone Wild’. Such pleasure!
For once we have a chick-flick that doesn’t try hard to be. ‘Bridesmaids’ is faithful to where it comes from, but is full of energy it doesn’t hold back. It drops all pretence and its girls really have some fun – sensible, mature, ‘adult’ fun. And we find we have some fun with them as well in the process.
P.S. Maya Rudolph so has to get out of the whole bride/expecting-mother groove. Someone better cast her in the next 'Kung Fu Panda' or something and make sure they don't give her a Pregnant Pelican to play. Just saying.