When Annie (Kristen Wiig) is asked to be Maid of Honour at Lillian’s wedding, she really does not know what she is letting herself in for. Fittings, dodgy food, batchelorette parties and the possible end of her relationship with her oldest friend.
Bridesmaids is the latest to come from the Judd Apatow stable and stars Kristen Wiig as Annie, Maya Rudolph as Lillian and a whole host of familiar faces make up the rest of the bridal party. Bridesmaids has been described as The Hangover for chicks, but this is not quite right. First of all, why does a film have to be boxed off as something else for it to be enjoyable? The only similarity between Bridesmaids and The Hangover is that both films have star comedic turns by relatively unknown actors. That’s it. The Bridesmaids do not go to Vegas (even though they try) and losing one of their friends is not the entire plot of the film (No offence, The Hangover). Another issue with this description is the implied message that women can only be funny when they are imitating someone, or something else. I think Amy Poehler and Tina Fay (to name but two) may have something to say about that.
Anyway… Back to the point. Kristen Wiig has played some fantastic parts in the past – in Paul, Bored to Death and Whip It to name but three – but this is possibly the first time that she has had the challenge of carrying a movie on her own… And she rises to the occasion. Annie has had a terrible run of luck lately, but Wiig allows the audience to relate to the character – through her quirks and her problems that all of us have had at some stage – that you do not give up on her. She draws the audience in, especially in her relationships with Ted (Jon Hamm) and Officer Rhodes (Chris O’Dowd). The problem with Annie, and all the characters to an extent, is that they are not written well enough. We do not learn enough about them to know why they do what they do, even though we want to see what happens next.
The best written characters in the film are Helen (Rose Byrne) and Megan (Melissa McCarthy). Rose Byrne’s bitchy and competitive Helen is fake and disingenuous until she allows the walls to come down. On the other hand, Megan is real from the start, but it is not until Annie loses everything that we really see what kind of person Megan is. It is a shame that the other bridesmaids are not given the chance to shine, but the running time is eaten up with improvised gags that start off funny, but end up being just that little bit too drawn out.
While on the topic of cast, it is great to see Jon Hamm play someone that the audience dislikes, rather than the suave and charming characters we have come to know (and love) him for. We have all met people like Ted in our lives, and hated ourselves for going back to them time and time again. Chris O’Dowd as the police officer is sweet and charming, and it is very easy to see why Annie falls for him. Matt Lucas and Rebel Wilson are completely unnecessary, and frankly, quite annoying. They could have been removed from the film entirely and it would not have made any impact, other than to maybe shorten the slightly-too-long running time.
Overall, Bridesmaids is silly, ridiculous and over the top – just what we have come to expect from Judd Apatow films. The undertone of the film, however, is not the lighthearted one you might think. Annie and Helen’s competition for the affection of their friend is funny and silly, but this film is untimately about the dissolution of friendships and what we do to cling on to people. There are issues with the characters, but what we see on screen is funny enough to cover it up… But only just.