Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bridesmaids: Grade B


Bridesmaids (2011)

Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Jill Clayburgh, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ellie Kemper, Chris O'Dowd; Director Paul Feig.

This movie should be called “The Kristen Wiig Show,” because she carries the whole thing. She is in every scene and owns the screen. She also co-wrote and co-produced. The story, such as it is, is about her character (Annie) whose best friend (Rudolph) asks her and four other women to be bridesmaids at the forthcoming wedding. But Annie brings disaster wherever she goes, to the wedding shower, the rehearsal, the bachelorette party, and the wedding itself. Along the way she has a couple of disastrous romantic relationships. But in the end, all is well.

The story is an excuse for Wiig to invent and perform sketch comedy routines similar to what she does on Saturday Night Live, only with far more detail and intensity. Her brand of humor is unique. It is no trouble to identify exactly which scenes she wrote and which she didn’t. Many of them are truly memorable, largely because she is such a great physical actor. She has a rubber face to equal Jim Carrey’s and a thousand expressions to put on it. I laugh even now thinking of some of those scenes. There is one exceptionally crude and raunchy bathroom scene where the women all suffer food poisoning and compete for the toilet. The movie could have done without it, but I also know it will go down as a classic in comedy movie history.

Wiig is the star of this feature, which would be nothing without her, not even very funny, but there are some other outstanding performances, especially from the snooty rich girl (Byrne) and the coarse chubby girl (Melissa McCarthy), and her romantic interest (O’Dowd). Directing is flawless and so is editing. Wiig said on Charlie Rose she hopes the movie is a success so she could consider a career as a writer. Well, the movie is a huge success, but she will need a broader range, because while her gags are truly and deeply funny, they don't go beyond obvious situations and stereotypes and their success depends almost entirely on her own incredible performance.

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