Sorry gals, we understand that it’s supposed to be your special day and all, but weddings are absurdly expensive. They’re also a pain in the ass.
That’s the bittersweet truth behind Bridesmaids, an erratic and strangely moving comedy co-written by and starring Saturday Night Live’s Kristen Wiig. The movie is a bit messy and way too long. But it’s also grounded in an economic reality that few mainstream comedies dare address.
Granted, Wiig is annoying as hell on SNL, pulling the same improv-group faces in nearly every sketch. But Whip It, Adventureland and even the lousy Paul proved that she’s terrific in movies. Given more than five minutes to mug for the camera, she’s shockingly adept at creating well-rounded characters. Here, she stars as a talented pastry chef who finds herself broke, middle-aged and staring down the engagement of her best friend (fellow SNL vet Maya Rudolph.) The screenplay (penned by Wiig and Annie Mumolo) is particularly perceptive with regard to the way marriage can alter long-term friendships. You might be very happy for someone, and also still sad that you’re not going to see them very often anymore.
Director Paul Feig proved with the short-lived but long-lamented Freaks And Geeks that he’s got an uncommon sense of empathy when it comes to his fucked-up characters. I’m surprised it took him this long to make the jump to feature films. (Let’s just pretend his Unaccompanied Minors never happened.) Alas, Feig’s old producer, Judd Apatow, is on board as well, and I’m not sure Bridesmaids benefits from his influence. The movie occasionally stops dead in its tracks for raunchy, scatological set-pieces that are hardly necessary, like when an unfortunately distended food-poisoning sequence leads to all sorts of vomiting and diarrhea and feels like a desperate attempt for something to put in the trailer.
Still, these are minor speedbumps in a movie that has a lot on its mind, and a muted sadness at its core. Wiig’s character is granted depth and accountability rarely seen in female leads, and I honestly could’ve watched an entire picture just about her and a local beat cop (wonderfully played by Chris O’Dowd) attempting to navigate their new, unsteady relationship. Wiig proves she can carry a movie, and Feig has finally gotten around to directing a real one. Hopefully next time they’ll ditch the crass interludes and shoot one from the heart.
The inclusion of raunch (and an R-rating) has yielded (erroneous) comparisons to The Hangover, but it’s more a character study, albeit a consistently comical one. Wiig, along with Reno 911 alum Wendi McClendon-Covey, who plays a fellow bridesmaid, talked to PW during a 16-hour pit-stop in Philly.