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Film review: 'Bridesmaids' might not be a bride, but it deserves to catch the bouquet

May 17, 2011|By BOB GARVER | Special to The Herald-Mail
  • In this publicity image released by Universal Pictures, from left, Melissa McCarthy, Ellie Kemper, Rose Byrne, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig are shown in a scene from "Bridesmaids."
AP Photo/Universal Pictures, Suzanne Hanover

All the actors in "Bridesmaids" have excellent chemistry with each other, but I feel there might have been a lack of chemistry off screen. There are two writers credited with the screenplay (Kristen Wiig and Amy Mumolo) and the film seems like a combination of two different scripts that have been joined clumsily.  

At times the film is what it claims to be: an ensemble comedy about a collection of women preparing for a wedding. The film is best at these points. At most points, however, the film is a bland romantic comedy that focuses on a bland romantic comedy character thankfully not played so blandly.

Kristen Wiig stars as Annie, a woman whose personal and professional life is holding up by a thread. She opened her dream bakery only to have it fail miserably.  Now she works a dead-end job, she has an awful set of roommates, her boyfriend is a jerk, and the tail lights on her car are broken.

She still carries herself with positivity, and it comes as great news when her best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph), announces she's getting married. Annie hurriedly accepts the role of maid of honor.

We meet the other members of the bridal party. There's disillusioned wife and mother Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey), adorable sweetheart Becca (Ellie Kemper) and crass troublemaker Megan (Melissa McCarthy). There's also rich trophy wife Helen (Rose Byrne), who Annie immediately sees as a problem. Lillian claims that Helen is just a friend from work, but Helen treats Lillian like a best friend. Annie is worried that Lillian is going to become a better friend to the rich snob who gets to cruise through life with a perpetual smile.  

Annie tries to make Lillian and the other bridesmaids happy, but her low income and increasing frustration keep getting in the way. These elements curse her through a dress fitting, a flight to Las Vegas for a bachelorette party, and Lillian's bridal shower.  Not that the other bridesmaids don't do plenty to turn these events inside out.   

Annie plays a role in these scenes, but their hilariousness is a team effort. No matter how funny the scene is at a given point, any of the characters can be counted on to do something to make it even funnier. These are scenes that earn several straight minutes of laughs; the one on the plane is particularly memorable.  

The ads for "Bridesmaids" make you think that the film is full of these scenes, but their number is surprisingly limited. Most of the film focuses on Annie as her life falls apart and she sabotages a potentially wonderful relationship with a friendly cop (Chris O'Dowd).  

The good news is that Wiig as an actress makes these scenes count. There's no question that she belongs in the lead role of this film and deserves to play the lead in many comedies in the future. The bad news is that the scenes are paced awkwardly.  Some go on for twice the time they should, which explains why the film is about half an hour too long. These scenes are especially frustrating because we know the film is capable of being much, much funnier.  

I can't speak highly enough of the film's best scenes. All six actresses will make you laugh, although Melissa McCarthy turns out to be a particularly valuable player. The film embraces crude humor while not relying on it too much for simple shock value.  But the film doesn't do enough of what it does well.  

My theory is that the film started out comprised entirely of Annie scenes that people didn't like and so the ensemble scenes were tacked on and the film was somewhat redeemed. I hope the people behind "Bridesmaids" recognize exactly what they did right this time and in a few years give us a sequel that gets it all right all the time.  

Two stars out of five.  

"Bridesmaids" is rated R for some strong sexuality and language throughout.  Its runtime is 130 minutes.  

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