Annie (Kristen Wiig) and Lillian (Maya Rudolph) have been best friends all their lives, sharing everything since they were little girls. When Lillian becomes engaged, she naturally asks Annie to be her maid of honour. However, Annie's nose is quickly put out of joint when she meets Lillian's wealthy new friend Helen (Rose Byrne) who seems to want to steal Lillian's friendship. Nothing in Annie's life is going right. Her occasional boyfriend Ted (Jon Hamm) is inconsiderate, her flatmates are making her life a misery and she is not sure how she feels about the local cop Officer Rhodes (Chris O'Dowd), who lets her car's broken tail-lights go without a fine. Will Annie ever find true happiness and will she and Lillian manage to remain best friends?
Review by Louise Keller:
There's friendship, jealousy, love and laughs swirling around in this compelling chick flick which embraces everything from high fashion to toilet humour. It's funny and it's charming, largely due to Kristen Wiig's great sense of timing and the smart comic script she has penned with Annie Mumolo. Like Tina Fey, who also worked on Saturday Night Live, Wiigg has the ability to be unselfconscious in the most self-conscious situations and earns credibility brownie points throughout.
Like all good comedy, the story is grounded in serious issues and as a consequence, the stakes are high. There are few frills and ribbons in this often coarse comedy that hilariously explores the secret wants and fears of women who crave commitment, fun and girl-talk.
When the film begins, we meet Annie (Wiig) having animated sex with her handsome squeeze Ted (Hamm). They look as though they are having fun in their adult sleepover until Ted shows he is no Prince Charming - he asks her to leave. But romance is not dead; Annie's bestie Lillian (Rudolph) is flaunting a sparkling diamond ring and of course Annie is thrilled for Lillian. Until she meets Lillian's fiance's boss's wife - the super thin, gorgeous, stinking rich, sumptuously dressed Helen (Byrne is perfectly cast) who does everything perfectly and makes friendship competitive.
Suddenly Annie doubts she is Lillian's BFF. The engagement party when Annie and Helen play musical speeches in the key of one-upmanship is very funny, ending in a singing finale of That's What Friends Are For. Keep smilin', keep shinin' indeed!
The circle of four bridesmaids is an incongruous group of all shapes and sizes and their visit to the snobby designer bridesmaid boutique with its snow white carpet after food poisoning lunch at a Brazilian restaurant does not go according to plan. This scene in which the washbasin is used as a toilet is overly crass. The culprit is the groom's overweight sister Megan, played by Melissa McCarthy, who is a real scene stealer - be it on the plane to Vegas or when she literally digs her teeth into Annie telling her a few home truths.
Although the men are sidelined in the plot, we warm to local cop Officer Rhodes (Chris O'Dowd), a likeable, crumpled Irishman who loves cup cakes and with whom Annie munches carrots before sunrise on his car bonnet. A later scene, in which Annie does everything she can to get the on-duty cop's attention as he is parked by the side of the road, is one of the film's funniest; she tries speeding, illegal phone use, drinking, U-turns and texting. The clever thing about Wiig's screenplay is that the humour is generated from the situations themselves, so we never feel as though we are watching a series of skits.
We happily participate in Annie's journey, which has to spiral downwards and hit rock bottom before life begins to make sense. Produced by Judd Apatow, the film drags occasionally but there is enough substance through the fun and frolic to keep us uplifted as we journey in and out of the pot holes in the road of marriage and friendship.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
If you or anyone you know is planning a wedding, send them along to Bridesmaids; they might well rethink their bridesmaids and consider hiring a few nuns instead - preferably from an order with a strict vow of silence. Where the Hangover franchise plumbs the depths of male pre-wedding antics, Bridesmaids looks at the women and their friends in pre-wedding mode. It's not always a pretty sight.
Talented writer/actress Kristen Wiig and co-writer Annie Mumolo heap troubles on their characters and with their sharply observed, sharply satirical screenplay, turn the chick flick into comedy for all. Who doesn't want to see a bride-to-be try on a bridal gown amidst a sudden onset of runny tummy after a healthy Brazilian barbecue lunch? Or indeed a best friend crazed by apparent betrayal demolish the entirety of an expensive engagement party, including a giant heart shaped cookie.
But these examples are the overt slapstick elements and don't do justice to the often painfully accurate interaction between the characters. Even though often dressed in humour, many of the scenes reverberate with the pain and loss and confusion of our daily lives. The pain of realisation, for example, that we are inept at managing our emotional lives. The loss of control over our decision making. The confusion caused by misadventures of all kinds.
Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph make an excellent couple of best friends, each convincing and vibrant in their roles. Wiig's Annie is the archetypal young woman who is around 30 and single, her own worst enemy when it comes to men and relationships, yet a perfectly lovely person. Annie will resonate with women with her flaws, but she also has appeal as a character for men, who see in her their own haphazardness. Rudolph is terrific as Lillian, her vulnerable face instantly mirroring her deepest feelings.
Rose Byrne, cast against type as Helen the rich bitch who comes between Annie and Lillian, spending her way into the relationship, organising and fussing and pushing herself into a position of trust she hasn't earned.
John Hamm is wonderfully hideous as a Porche driving ego stick.
It's natural that Annie should be Lillian's Maid of Honour, but as soon as Helen gets involved, things go from bad to worse for Annie - not just with the wedding plans but her whole life. And this despite having been let off a fine by Officer Rhodes (Chris O'Dowd), for her clunk of a car not having working tail lights. O'Dowd brings a wonderful character to the screen as the genuine guy, a tad eccentric, a tad square, a tad romantic and a tad funny.
Annie's journey involves some serious issues which give the whole thing purpose and glue, which helps when the screenplay meanders and sags; a sharper edit could take 10 minutes out to the film's benefit.
But with its often raw humour, rough language and soft heart, Bridesmaids is not a frilly girlie movie, more a busty, raunchy strut-it film.
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CAST: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Chris O'Dowd, Jon Hamm, Melissa McCarthy, Ellie Kemper, Matt Lucas
PRODUCER: Judd Apatow, Barry Mendel, Clayton Townsend
DIRECTOR: Paul Feig
SCRIPT: Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Robert D. Yeoman
EDITOR: William Kerr, Michael L. Sale
MUSIC: Michael Andrews
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jefferson Sage
RUNNING TIME: 125 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Universal
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 16, 2011
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays in February, following a FREE introductory screening on February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.