Bridesmaids | Paul Feig, 2011
If there is one thing that Judd Apatow will be remembered for, it will be for being one of the greatest producers of comedies. During the last decade he has produced some of the most memorable comedies in years, and maybe even of all time. This is because the movies he produces do not get hung up in trying to make you laugh will silly jokes. Sure, they are a very important part of them, but underneath them all is a very human story that just about everyone can relate to. This, of course, would not be possible if he wasn’t great at discovering new talent.
With his cult TV show, “Freaks and Geeks”, he gave a career to two of today’s most notorious actors: James Franco and Jason Segel. With Anchorman he gave us one of the most hilarious and irreverent comedies of all time. With his directorial debut, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, he turned Steve Carrell into a leading man. These are just some of the good things he’s done for comedy. Sure, he’s had his missteps (Funny People, Drillbit Taylor, Year One, and he killed David Gordon Green’s genius), but there’s no denying his gift for finding comedic talent. With his latest production, Bridesmaids, he has proven that Saturday Night Live’s Kristen Wiig is one of the funniest and smartest comedians out there, and that she is also an amazing writer.
In Bridesmaids Wiig plays Annie, a woman that is almost at the end of her wit. Her dream of owning a bakery crashed with the recession and lost all her money, she lives with some extremely odd British roommates, and doesn’t have a man in her life, except for a fuck buddy. Her only meaningful relationship is with her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph), who has been spending a lot of time out of town with her boyfriend.
Things only get worse once Lillian gets engaged, and is asked to be her maid of honor. Not only does she now have the added pressure of doing her duties in that role, but she also has to deal with the other members of the bridal party: Rita (Wendy McLendon-Covey), a woman who’s life has turned sour living in a house with her three young sons; Becca (Ellie Kemper) and odd but sweet young woman; Megan (Melissa McCarthy), who is outspoken and crude, and, worst of all Helen (Rose Byrne), who is rich, beautfufl, and wanted to be the Maid of Honor. The movie then is about Annie balancing her life with her MoH responsibilities, as well as a possible relationship with a sweet cop (Chris O’Dowd).
Pretty much every element of this movie makes it as great as it is, but what makes it such a success may very well be the foundation of it all. Annie Mumolo’s and Wiig’s script, much like almost every Apatow production, succeeds not only because of its comedy, but it has a really human story underneath it all. This is a comedy about a woman on the verge of a breakdown that is doing everything possible to keep the only relationship that’s ever worked for her, even when it is beginning to fade away for natural reasons. Mumolo and Wiig take this story and by injecting it some crude, but hilarious comedy make it so much more relatable and much more memorable. This definitely has one of the best scripts of the year.
Also worth noting is Paul Feig’s direction. It may not seem like much since it’s not stylish or anything, but he does something that not many comedy directors do: he makes the comedy feel organic. When funny dialogue is spoken, he doesn’t put an emphasis on it, as if to tell us “hey, did you hear that? It’s supposed to be funny.” Rather, he lets the actors do the work and lets them deliver it naturally, and therefore it makes the character seem more believable. And during the physical comedy parts, he also doesn’t go over the top. He again, he stages it in an outrageous, and still somewhat realistic way. Just look at the scene where they are trying on the bridesmaids dresses. That scene could have been really bad with feces and vomit going everywhere, etc. But he only chose to show some vomit and handle it with some hand-held camera work, and besides that, he let the actors do the work.
And this brings me to what brings it all together and wraps it up beautifully: the acting. This movie, could have had a brilliant scrip and a great director, but without great comedic actors, this movie would have failed. Leading the pack is Kristen Wiig. From her work on SNL, we know that she can play a quirky and distracted woman who says the worst things. There is some of that here, but this role is more liker what she did on Drew Barrymore’s Whip It! Not only does she get to do what she does best (be funny) but she also brings emotional heft, a soul to her character that makes us identify with her.
Kristen Wiig may be best in show, but the rest of the cast is also amazing. Rose Byrne is great at being the mean bitch. Wendy McLendon-Covey and Ellie Kemper play off each other really well, and give a unique life to their characters. Maya Rudolph is charming, although she doesn’t have much to do. Chris O’Dowd is charming as well. But the best of the supporting cast is easily Melissa McCarthy. She just brings the comedy to another level with her commitment to the material. But she also has an emotional scene towards the ends, and she hits it out of the park as well. I hope she is considered for an Oscar, because she totally deserves to at least be nominated.
So, yeah, I loved Bridesmaids. It may have its flaws, but I certainly don’t feel like looking for them. It may be too early to say it, but the movie is kind of a comedic masterpiece.