I literally cannot remember the last time I went to the cinema to watch a film. Second-hand DVDs are so cheap these days, that I can pick up four old flicks for the same price as going to see one new one on the big screen… but Bridesmaids (2011) opened in the UK last week, and I still had some b-day money burning a hole in my wallet, so I decided to go see what all the fuss was about.
For those who don’t know (and to be honest, I walked in without the faintest clue what the plot was myself), Bridesmaids follows the misadventures of a thirty-something maid-of-honour, as she tries to send her BFF up the aisle in style, and avoid being usurped by an insidious newcomer to their social circle. Although the title and the poster imply that this is an ensemble piece, the vast majority of screen-time, and audience sympathy, is hogged by co-writer Kristen Wiig. We don’t get Saturday Night Live over here, so I can’t say I was all that familiar with Wiig before today… but I’m glad that her screenwriting debut is proving so successful, because it really is a very funny, surprising and touching script.
There was a bizarrely self-deprecating moment when Wiig’s rival (played by Rose Byrne) was introduced, though: She gets this big, fancy reveal, where Wiig’s character stutters about how pretty she is, clearly awed and intimidated by her supposed exquisiteness… and, yes, Byrne is a fine lookin’ lady, but I didn’t actually think she was significantly prettier than Wiig herself… or Ellie Kemper, who made her first unheralded appearance just a few minutes earlier. Obviously Byrne’s character is more glamorous than the others, but that’s a totally different thing. I thought she played her role very well though… and kept an admirably straight-face through all the shenanigans, as she passive-aggressively sabotaged Wiig at every turn. Having enjoyed Kemper’s contributions to the Subtle Sexuality videos, I was keen to see her speaking for a change, rather than singing… and while she doesn’t get very many scenes here, she’s very endearing all the same… it’s just a shame we didn’t get to see more of her dancing during the closing musical number, because it looked like she was getting ready to bust some serious moves! For me though, the standout performance came from Melissa McCarthy, as the bride-to-be’s future sister-in-law. McCarthy was so sweet and unassuming in The Nines and Samantha Who?, it was hilarious to see her playing such a crude and brash character here… although she clearly had a softer side too, as evidenced by the rather heart-warming scene where she tries to wrestle Wiig’s character out of her funk. Bless.
Although I could have done without so-many “gross-out gags” (I took a quick toilet break during the vomiting scene), and I thought the rom-com subplot was a waste of space which could/should have been given over to the other eponymous bridesmaids, overall I thought this was a damn good laugh… and it certainly put Bride Wars to shame!
[Note: Since I singled McCarthy out for the most praise, I should really post a photo of her… but they deliberately made her character look kinda bleh, and I’m a deeply shallow man, so I went with a picture of the super-cute Kemper instead. Sorry… but I’m a sucker for freckly redheads… and they are an oppressed minority, right?]