Bridesmaids was apparently the industry’s test to see if women can do comedy. A few years ago a lot of high profile films starring A-list women bombed at the box office and the decision was made that people don’t like lady movies. There was one executive who flat out said he wouldn’t green light any project with a female protagonist and a few films that were in production were altered to beef up the male lead’s part. Then Bridesmaids came alone, written by and starring Kristen Wigg who is pretty much universally adored by the industry (even though I know a lot of people who have major problems with her, myself included) and it was decided that no comedies with female leads would get given the go ahead unless Bridesmaids was a hit. A lot of pressure for one little movie, no? Thankfully for funny ladies everywhere, the film was a hit so girls are allowed to make poop jokes. Hurray!
I was a little wary going into the film due to my previously stated dislike of Wigg. However, I found her much more tolerable as a lead in a film, then in SNL sketches. It’s probably because she’s playing a real person and not just a character. That being said, after repeat viewings, it’s clear her character is the weakest in a very strong cast. While she’s hit a string of bad luck, she spends a good chuck of the two hour plus movie feeling sorry for herself and alternating between being passive and passive aggressive, allowing her anger to bubble up until she can’t help but throw a tantrum. There have been many comedies in recent years that focus on male friendships, and I think this could have been a great story about female friendship, and how hard it can be when one friend takes a big step forward in life, and the other is forced to stand still and watch, but instead we got multiple scenes of Wigg baking. My issue with Wigg is I find her to be a selfish performer whose characters exist in a vacuum, and each time I rewatch Bridesmaids, I realize how many scenes feature Wigg alone.
This film has a great sampling of women in comedy today. Almost every woman with a speaking part is a familiar face and everyone gets a moment or two in the sun. This was a breakout role for Melissa McCarthy, who kills it in every scene, injecting her over the top character with a sweetness so you can’t help but love her. The other bridesmaids are all a lot of fun and they each do a great job of injecting their strong personalities without letting things get too wacky. Each woman has a rich backstory and Wigg’s script does a great job of showing us who these women are, without too much exposition. Maya Rudolph mostly plays the straight man as bride-to-be Lillian, but the few moments she does get to be silly, remind you how great she is.
One of my biggest pet peeves in the movie is that on multiple occasions, Wigg complains that her arch-nemesis bridesmaid Helen (Rose Byrne) is thinner than her. This stood out to me because Wigg is almost painfully thin, so even if Helen is thinner (which I don’t think she is), it’s by an insignificant amount, and really, who freaking cares? They’re fighting over a female friend! I really don’t think May Rudolph (who’s bigger than both of them, not that it matters) is choosing her friends by their dress size. I get that Wigg’s character is in a full blown tailspin of self-loathing, but it was so weird to me.
While the film has a lot to offer, it could have used some editing. If they chopped off a half hour of Wigg’s navel gazing, it would have been a stronger movie. I will give Wigg credit for supposedly turning down 20 million dollars to do a sequel that she didn’t think was necessary. It will be interesting to see how much of an impact Bridesmaids did have on the comedy landscape in the coming years.
Becca: You are more beautiful than Cinderella! You smell like pine needles, and have a face like sunshine!