My biggest pet peeve with the current state of comedy lately is how women are used. Women are often really really funny, but too many comedies are written by men who only use them as reactionary devices to other men. (Quick name 20 different sitcoms with the CRAZY husband and the sensible wife.)
So I was looking forward to Bridesmaids, a raunchy comedy written by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, because it could be a step in the right direction. It ultimately met my expectations because it focused on the right elements. The story is about Annie (Wigg) who is all set to be her best friend, Lillian’s (Maya Rudolph) maid of honor. Things start to fall apart when Annie meets the other bridesmaids including Helen (Rose Byrne). Helen is incredibly rich and seems to be fighting to be the real maid of honor.
There are plenty comedic set-pieces around this rivalry including a wonderfully awkward battle for the last speech. What makes the rivalry richer and more frustrating is that they are both so passive aggressive. They smile through their gritting teeth and continue to compliment each other’s wardrobe. Sometimes the Helen character strays a bit far from reality, but most of the time she is someone familiar. The girl who doesn’t mean harm, but in the back of her mind she knows what she is doing.
The rest of the cast is really great too. The best comedies are the ones that know how to have strong supporting characters. Melissa McCarthy is the breakthrough bridesmaid as the upcoming in-law who is crass and unpredictable. Jon Hamm is also hilarious as the worst guy out there. (The opening montage is especially hilarious.) Having a good supporting cast doesn’t just mean having a certain type of jokes for them all to perform. It’s best to see them as full characters who only get to be seen for a brief period of time.
One of the best examples of this is the love interest Rhodes played by the star of The IT Crowd, Chris O’Dowd. He plays a local cop who has a crush on Annie. They have good chemistry together. He’s funny, but never that witty. Near the end of the film, he’s expected to make certain actions because that’s how every movie plays it out. Instead the film remains true to the characters. When the movie ends, there is a stronger resonance because it feels like a real story, not just a collection of gags.
The laughs may not be as strong as other summer comedies, but they are consistent. It’s a very likable movie that will last longer than other films that rely on shock value and outrageous lines. A sequel to this would be nice, but I rather Wiig and Mumolo team up again to give us another story with more characters. They have the talent.