Directed by: Paul Feig | 125 minutes | comedy | Actors: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Chris O’Dowd, Ellie Kemper, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Melissa McCarthy, Matt Lucas, Jill Clayburgh, Rebel Wilson, Michael Hitchcock, Jon Hamm, Kali Hawk, Johnny Yong Bosch, Any Buckley, Ben Falcone, Mia Rose Frampton, Cat Doss, Tucker Albrizzi, Joe Nunez
The female counterpart of ‘The Hangover’, this film was announced by many. Indeed, the trailer showed some unmistakable gross happenings and jokes, as well as some substantive similarities (a planned wedding, a trip to Las Vegas, and an overweight, socially maladjusted sister-in-law) to the 2009 male instant classic. One thing is clear from ‘Bridesmaids’: despite borrowed elements and the same structure, ‘Bridesmaids’ has not become a women’s version of ‘The Hangover’. The plot is not original enough for that and the storyline too predictable. Still, the film is certainly successful in its own right and the jokes for a chick flick are quite well placed and original. The fact that it works is mainly due to Kristen Wiig who takes on the role of Annie and wrote the script together with Annie Mumolo. Wiig carries the comic weight of the film with verve, and shows from the start that with Annie – despite many irregularities – she has created a sympathetic and witty character. The ingredients that should make the film funny are not too difficult, but they are successful: a scene in which Annie is kicked off the plane under the influence of alcohol and tranquilizers; a good dose of poop and pee jokes; a few awkward quarrels, a couple of strange, obese, British roommates and a handful of silly supporting roles provide the right mix for a witty comedy.
Main character Annie, played by Kristen Wiig, who is unknown to the general public, is asked by her childhood friend Lillian to be her ‘maid of honor’ at the planned wedding with Doug. Annie, a lovable chaotic who just saw her cake shop go bankrupt, has no money and no relationship, is overjoyed for Lillian but gradually discovers that planning and organizing isn’t going well for her. That’s why it’s extra frustrating to see the ‘new’ girlfriend of the bride-to-be, the perfect Helen (a nice role by Rose Byrne). She knows everyone, organizes the best parties and has tons of money – the ideal bridesmaid. Annie forces Helen to drive a wedge between her and bride Lillian, screwing up her witness duties and, incidentally, her personal life. The three other bridesmaids are obviously caricatures, as it should be in a comedy like this, but well-chosen caricatures. Especially Melissa McCarthy, whom most women will know as the good-looking Sookie from ‘The Gilmore Girls’, steals the show as the – literally and figuratively – sturdy aunt, Megan. The fact that Megan ultimately transcends her one-dimensional character certainly benefits the film.
The romantic subplot between Annie and lovable cop Rhodes feels a bit obligatory at times, but develops subtly enough to keep you interested. The ending is as it should be: five minutes earlier everything seems to be going wrong, the problems culminate in a dramatic climax that is fortunately resolved and talked out just in time for the wedding. In that respect, the women’s version hardly differs from that of the men – ‘The Hangover’ too, with all its absurd plot lines, needed a proper Hollywood ending to see all events in perspective and above all to keep laughing. There is nothing wrong with the formula film itself, if the fill-in exercise is done with care and feeling. Here they succeeded and that has resulted in a funny women’s film for ages – although apparently that also requires a portion of infantile male humor.