This review first appeared in the Sunday Star Times, 12th June 2011
A terrific, provocative opening scene had me shouting “Hooray for feminism!” Well, not quite. But after the raft of Frat-Pack movies where women are either marginalised (both Hangovers, which get a couple of tacit nods here) or play second fiddle to Seth Rogen/ Jason Segel/Paul Rudd, it is heartening to see Bridesmaids step up to the plate and show how sisters can do it for themselves. Kind of.
The Saturday Night Live alumni (Sat-Pack?) have provided most of Hollywood’s humour over the last decade, and now it’s the turn of Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph, both accomplished comediennes, to frontline a movie. Wiig, who was the best thing in the recent alien comedy Paul, is Annie, maid of honour to Lilian (Rudolph), who finds her best-friendness usurped by a superbly ghastly Rose Byrne.
Before you can say “scatological humour” (yes, again), the maids are running from one overlong and underfunny set piece to the next, as they go to a dress fitting, disrupt an airline flight, and hijack a hen party.
In the hands of such talent, it’s strange that the film embraces cliché (cupcake-baking Annie has a potty-mouthed mother and a penchant for rotten men) and is at times laboured and underwritten. In typical Hollywood form, Annie looks like someone for whom everything should be dandy, but has a life that’s falling apart at the seams (a snooping flatmate mistakes her diary for “a very sad handwritten book”). We can see the mistakes she’s making, but we can’t really understand her apparent paralysis. Instead then, we are encouraged to laugh along at the supporting cast of misfit bridesmaids, the best of whom is sister-in-law Megan (Melissa McCarthy), the inevitable Zach Galifianakis character who is large and laughable, but ultimately has the best moments.
Which makes it all sound like a bit of a failure. But to be fair, the film has other strengths, particularly the scenes between Annie and police officer Rhodes, played by the Irish comedian Chris O’Dowd. Without overdoing it, both of them manage to play really cute and somewhat naïve, even if their courtship is unnecessarily wearying.
Bridesmaids is the sort of film you leave thinking could have been better, and one wonders how much it consciously tried to adhere to the lads’ movies of the genre. That said, the engaging performances offer a truth and depth not often seen when the boys are at the wheel, and while it’s not quite a laugh a minute, it will keep you smiling throughout.