- Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig star in "Bridesmaids."
Bridesmaids is an R-rated comedy from producer Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, The 40-Year-Old Virgin), whose films are known for raunchy gags, squabbling and bonding among friends, and for being too long. True to form, the movie is crass, funny, sweet and, at two hours and five minutes, considerably longer than it should be.
The star of the show is Kristen Wiig, who has been with Saturday Night Live since 2005. Wiig is a gifted comic actor – one of the program's strongest utility players since the great Phil Hartman. She also has a bad habit that SNL not only puts up with but encourages: Wiig creates characters with one annoying personality trait. Throughout each sketch, the character repeats the bizarre behavior, getting more and more extreme, until there is an outburst that concludes the scene. Example: One of her most well-known SNL characters is Penelope, a desperate attention-seeker who tries to impress others by verbally one-upping their accomplishments and experiences. I laughed like crazy at the first few Penelope sketches; now I fast-forward through them. Wiig is too talented to rely on one-joke characters.
She carries the bad habit into the movie. There's a scene where her character gets into a toasting duel with the maid of honor at some pre-wedding event. The audience at the screening I attended howled, but I just checked my watch and wondered how long she would stretch out this tired shtick.
The set-up for the movie is simple, with lots of tacked-on busyness. Annie's (Wiig) life is a mess. Her bakery went belly-up, she's broke and her car is a heap. She has a handsome boyfriend (Jon Hamm) and their sex life is spirited, to say the least, but sex and good looks aside, he is clearly Mr. Wrong. Annie's mother (the late Jill Clayburgh) assures her she's hitting bottom, so there's nowhere to go but up. Mom is wrong. When Annie's best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) gets engaged, she picks rich control freak Helen (Rose Byrne) as her Maid of Honor instead of Annie. Being just a bridesmaid isn't enough, and a power struggle begins between Annie and Helen.
There's a lot of funny in Bridesmaids, including a riotous food poisoning scene involving the entire bridal party. The other bridesmaids are amusing, with Mike and Molly's Melissa McCarthy stealing scenes as the film's equivalent of Jack Black or Zach Galifianakis. Other bits are less successful. Exchanges between Annie and her British roommates (Matt Lucas from Little Britain and Rebel Wilson) fall completely flat. A romantic storyline involving Annie and a sweet, gawky policeman (Irish actor Chris O'Dowd) is padded, but offers some nice moments.
Bridesmaids, co-written by Wiig and Annie Mumolo and directed by Freaks and Geeks creator Paul Feig, is as solid as any other comedy from Team Apatow. It's got heart and lots of laughs and will likely be a huge hit. I enjoyed myself, but damn, I wish Wiig would stop taking one freaky behavior and clubbing the audience with it. And I wish the film's editors - there are two! - would do more editing. I'll be surprised if the Bridesmaids DVD includes any deleted scenes, since it appears they didn't delete anything.