Bridesmaids Review: The Marrying Kind

Bridesmaids: On General Release From Friday 24th June

One of the rules of screenwriting is ‘Make your protagonist likeable’. It’s an old rule that really works and I’ve rarely seen it broken, or broken well to make me rethink its validity. In Kristin Wiig’s Bridesmaids, however, her character, long-time fuck-up Annie, is dangerously close to the edge of being a total dick. She’s selfish, disorganised, rude and self-destructive – not traditional qualities you look for in a leading lady, especially not one that’s the maid of honour for her best friend Lillian, played by Maya Rudolph.

If it weren’t for the fact that they have been friends since childhood, I wonder if these two would be friends as adults. My difficulty in suspending disbelief aside, Annie’s story begins with an acrobatic opening scene in which she has lively but meaningless sex with her regular hook-up played by Jon Hamm. Annie’s already low self-esteem isn’t helped any by his total disregard for her feelings, their relationship and her preference for sex that isn’t 100mph.

Things don’t get any better when Lillian announces her engagement and that Annie will be the one in charge of the bridal shower and bachelorette party, despite Lillian’s new friend Helen (Rose Byrne) being far more competent and stylish. In a constant game of one-upmanship with Helen, Annie proceeds to embarrass herself at every given opportunity, straining her friendship with Lillian to breaking point. The rest of the bridal party is a little more manageable than Annie but only slightly: the crude but well-meaning Megan (Melissa McCarthy), stir-crazy housewife Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey) and the naive newlywed Becca (Ellie Kemper).

With a little scheming from Helen thrown in, things go from bad to worse, starting with food-poisoning resulting in a no-holds barred scene in a bridal shop. The visuals are truly disgusting but stomach-achingly hilarious – poop jokes aren’t just for the boys anymore. The mayhem continues as a drugged Annie starts acting up on a plane to Las Vegas, Becca and Rita get wasted and Megan starts hitting on the guy next to her, convinced he is an air marshal. This scene is a highlight, not just because everyone is on top form but because it’s one of the few where each of the women get something to do. Despite its ensemble comedy status, Becca and Rita are left out in the cold for most of the jokes which isn’t strictly to the detriment of the film, more of a shame as they show such promise.

Annie also runs a mile from genuine good guy cop Nathan (Chris O’Dowd) in a somewhat slightly crowbarred in relationship. I would have preferred to spend more time with the bridesmaids than watching another romantic misfire for Annie, especially since her screen time with supposed best friend Lillian is so limited.

Wiig’s written a hilarious, warm but edgy comedy and this will hopefully be the start of her screenwriting career. Bridesmaids is by far one of the best representations of female friendships I’ve seen since Mean Girls – OK, that’s not that long ago but there’s a cinematic chasm between the two films. Wiig proves that she’s capable of carrying the lead and her easy chemistry with Maya Rudolph is a treat to watch. I’ll also take any chance to watch Melissa McCarthy onscreen – anyone who’s been recently unemployed will know her from the Gilmore Girls (God bless E4 repeats) and I’m hoping that off the back of this, we’ll be seeing a lot more of her. It’s an all around win but has few loose seams to pick at. Still, the scene in which Wiig drops the C-bomb to a teenage customer at work will keep me, and anyone else who’s worked in retail, laughing for days.

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