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Movie Review: Bridesmaids (2011)
Summary: Picked as her best friend’s maid of honor, lovelorn Annie looks to bluff her way through the expensive and bizarre rituals with an oddball group of bridesmaids.
Spoilers: none 

Bridesmaids is a romantic dramedy that, quite probably, offers the perfect serving-up of “chick-flick” and “bride-zilla,” while not ignoring its duties as a romantic movie from both male and female perspectives. It’s elements blend so well together, being so genuinely delivered, that the movie really must be called a success on all fronts.


“Annie” (Kristen Wiig) was once the proud owner of Cake Baby, a local bakery that went belly-up not long after the love of her life left her. As a result, she is not a romantic or an optimist. In fact, she’s just the opposite. Her too-vocal perspectives on inevitably doomed relationships result in her eventual termination from the jewelry store she is employed with in post-bakery days.

Her best friend since childhood is “Lillian” (Maya Rudolph) and the two seem inseparable. This changes when Lillian announces plans to get married. Annie is selected by Lillian as her bridesmaid, but this doesn’t stop “Helen” (Rose Byrne) who has only recently become close friends with Lillian, from stealing the spotlight with her enviable beauty, charm, intelligence, and royal elegance in taste.

Fretting about the perceived monopolization of her best friend, she meets “Officer Nathan Rhodes” (Chris O’Dowd) who stops her for a busted taillight. Flirtation eventually leads to the beginnings of a relationship.

After a flight to Vegas whereon Annie has a reaction to downers given to her by Helen that are mixed with alcohol, her erratic behavior leads to a lapse in Annie and Lillian’s friendship, which is where the real juicy stuff begins.

As Annie draws further away from Lillian, Helen and Lillian draw closer, despite their friends’ efforts to see everyone happy. Wild girl “Megan” (Melissa McCarthy), troubled family mother “Rita” (Wendi McLendon-Covey), and sexually frustrated “Becca” (Ellie Kemper) can do little more than stand by and watch as things threaten to fall apart.

Meanwhile, Annie turns her attentions to Nathan who takes an interest not only in her, but in her cooking skills she has chosen to put away. With the wedding drawing closer and Annie losing her roommates and friends, things are looking bleak and (thankfully for us) won’t start looking any better until audiences are thoroughly entertained in this 125-minutes of fun. 

The beauty of Bridesmaids is its busy agenda, along with the wide ground it covers in terms of emotions explored. Annie is our star, but by no means the most dynamic character on screen. That accomplishment is shared by a number of fine actresses that give themselves to their respective roles; of note is McCarthy’s “Megan,” a puppy thief who can only be likened in come-off and personality to “Mimi Bobeck” from The Drew Carey Show.

In her fatalistic negativity and relationship-based pessimism, Annie only thinks she’s hit rock-bottom, but won’t actually know what that’s like until she’s there and realizes that she is a classic self-loather, not believing she is worthy of anyone better than being the sex toy of a go-getter playboy named “Ted” (Jon Hamm) who avoids commitment like the plague (and plays a damn good creepy sex partner).

Annie sets herself up for failure not because of the inability to handle misfortune, but because she sees all men as she really is—afraid of commitment, but more than that, not believing that such a thing as a happy relationship exists, with a happy, faithful, non-game-playing man. This is why she repeatedly turns away the warming embrace of Nathan, the perfect, realistic-looking, down-to-earth guy who quickly establishes himself as what so many women want, but aren’t ready for when they meet him.

Bridesmaids is hilarious, and for a whole gamut of reasons. This is due to the scope of its writing. It covers everything from bathroom humor to “cat fights” to verbose sexual content, and perhaps most satisfyingly, awkward resentment that builds and builds, resulting in explosive releases of cuss-outs and tensions, followed by crying spells and sharing (when necessary) like only girlfriends can know.

This was no accident, nor was the writing something that was thrown together after a memorable wedding shower or even over months of planning a wedding. This was the result of the merger of several story lines, with the tweaking and trimming of a few more. It accomplishes much more than the viewer sets out to expect. 

And It’s not often you find a movie like this where it isn’t everyone’s quirks that make the movie so likable, but the directions the characters choose to go, without relying on clichĂ© and without pandering to satisfy viewers watching and waiting for a certain ending they’d find most desirable.

Bridesmaids has the wanted sensitivity and feminine touch for its female audiences, but shakes it up as a girl’s version of The Hangover.

If you want to know where I got the title of this review, then too bad. You will have to see the film to find out.

(JH)

Grade: A+ (4 stars)
Rated: R (for language, strong sexuality, drug and alcohol use)
Director: Paul Feig
Starring: “Annie” (Kristen Wiig), “Whitney” (Jessica St. Clair), “Lillian” (Maya Rudolph), “Annie’s Mom” (Jill Clayburgh), “Rita” (Wendi McLendon-Covey), “Becca” (Ellie Kemper), “Ted” (Jon Hamm), “Megan” (Melissa McCarthy), “Helen” (Rose Byrne), “Nathan” (Chris O’Dowd)
Genre: Comedy
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