Bridesmaids

Have you ever had a good, close, best friend you wanted to punch in the mouth?  It can happen.  As a friendship matures, you begin to notice the little things your friend does that annoy you and can start to really grate on your nerves; or, you see your friend doing stupid things and making bad decisions.  If they would just listen to your advice, their life would work out better.  All this care, concern and worry can lead an otherwise reasonable and sane person to feel the overwhelming desire to sock their best friend squarely in the jaw.  I wouldn’t suggest it as it may destroy the friendship and lead to time in jail, but sometimes it feels like the only option.  In the movie “Bridesmaids,” Kristen Wiig plays the friend who needs a punch in the face, metaphorically speaking, and life seems to be winding up ready to give it to her.

Annie (Kristen Wiig) is in a bad place in her life.  She poured all her money into a cake shop she ran with her boyfriend.  The shop failed and her boyfriend dumped her.  Now, she has an unsatisfying job in a jewelry store and is involved with a man named Ted (Jon Hamm) who is interested in nothing more than using Annie for sex.  She shares an apartment with a British brother and sister, Brynn and Gil (Rebel Wilson and Matt Lucas), an odd pair who regularly goes through her possessions and read her journal.  Annie’s best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) has just become engaged to Dougie (Tim Heidecker) and asks Annie to be her maid of honor.  Annie agrees despite her jealousy about Lillian getting married.  Annie meets the other bridesmaids at Lillian’s engagement party and they are quite the mixed bag.  Dougie’s sister Megan (Melissa McCarthy) is a plus-size gal who knows what she wants and doesn’t mind telling everyone how she’s going to get it.  Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey) is married with three children and is desperate to get out of the house and blow off some steam.  Becca (Ellie Kemper) is a sweet and innocent newlywed who seems obsessed with all things Disney.  Finally, there’s Helen (Rose Byrne) who is the trophy wife of Dougie’s boss.  Helen considers Lillian her best friend and is annoyed that Annie is the maid of honor.  Helen constantly tries to one-up Annie at every turn, setting up a rivalry that will have serious consequences for the events leading to the wedding.  If that wasn’t enough to deal with, Annie gets pulled over by police officer Nathan Rhodes (Chris O’Dowd) for weaving and broken taillights.  As he’s writing the ticket, Annie makes a good impression on Nathan and he tears up the citation.  Could this be the start of something good in Annie’s life?

I don’t ask much of comedies.  I only want them to make me laugh.  The film doesn’t have to teach me anything or make me think about bigger issues, it just needs to bring the funny.  “Bridesmaids” brings the funny crudely, consistently and in a big way.  It also shows us its heart and has moments of sweetness, but the humor is never far away.

Written by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, and produced by Judd Apatow, “Bridesmaids” can’t be considered a subtle comedy of manners.  It uses sex, bodily functions gone awry, behavior modified and amplified by sedatives and alcohol and ample helpings of foul language to deliver laughs.  In many comedies, using broad, crude humor feels cheap, like a tactic appealing to the lowest common denominator.  “Bridesmaids” is an example of how lowbrow humor can be done smartly and effectively.  None of the bizarre, over-the-top antics in the film feels fake or gimmicky. 

This ensemble cast works perfectly together and gives the film a solid, realistic base from which all the insanity springs forth.  The stand-out of this great group has to be Melissa McCarthy as Megan.  She is asked to do and say some of the most outrageous things, and yet she never comes across as someone you wouldn’t want to meet and hang out with.  She probably has the two funniest scenes in the film, one of which occurs at the dress shop and the other at the very end.  I may have to check out her CBS sitcom, “Mike & Molly,” to enjoy more of her work.  All these ladies, including Rose Byrne’s Helen who is the closest thing the film has to a villain, seem like they’d be a great deal of fun to get to know.

Even the grossest of gross out comedies has to have some sweetness to it as that makes the humor that much more effective.  “Bridesmaids” has that soft side that comes out on occasion, usually in scenes between Wiig and Rudolph, and Wiig and O’Dowd; still, the next joke is never too far away and is made much funnier by the softness that preceded it.

“Bridesmaids” is rated R for some strong sexuality, and language throughout.  The opening scene involves a fairly graphic yet funny sex scene between Wiig and Hamm (sounds like a deli sandwich).  The grossest scene involves vomit and implied diarrhea at a high-end bridal boutique.  Foul language is common throughout the film, including the “c-word” said in anger by a woman to another woman.

I haven’t seen many movies that made me laugh quite as much as “Bridesmaids” that also had me interested in how the story was going to play out.  I assumed there would be the standard happy ending but the trip that gets us there is so enjoyable and unpredictable that I didn’t mind a less than original ending.  “Bridesmaids” should be enjoyed by a big group of friends.  Who knows, you might see someone you are with on screen.

“Bridesmaids” gets five very well-tuned guitars.

Johnny Depp returns as Captain Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Caribbean:  On Stranger Tides” this week.  It’s the only film opening in wide release, so I’m giving you the option of letting me choose to see anything else with Stan’s Choice.

Release dates are subject to change and not all films may be shown in Knoxville, TN.

Questions?  Send them to stanthemovieman@att.net.  You can follow Stan on Twitter @moviemanstan.