27 June 2011

BRIDESMAIDS- Review

My biggest beef with Bridesmaids might just be with its marketing. The trailers and posters have thus far portrayed a female answer to this summer's bloke-iest of comedies, The Hangover Part II, which would only serve to prove that women are just as capable of making shit films as men. Besides, wasn't The Hangover Part II already a male answer to Sex and the City 2? Four cunts go on holiday, are horrible to everyone... you fill in the gaps.

I also have problems with the film itself, even though it's turned out to be a much more level-headed and realistic comedy than the marketing has depicted. As far as the story goes, Annie and Lillian are childhood best friends, and when Lillian gets engaged, Annie eagerly agrees to be the maid of honour at her wedding. However, this puts her in charge of corralling Lillian's other bridesmaid friends through the pre-wedding celebrations. But amongst them is Helen, a sophisticated snob who wants Annie's job of organising the wedding.

It works to the film's advantage, that it's relatively clear of the convoluted setpieces seen in other chick flicks. But then there's another flaw of the marketing, in its suggestion that Bridesmaids is a chick flick at all. Certainly, it's a film about women that women will like, but I can only presume there's some astonished person at Universal who can't believe the largely positive response to this film amongst male critics. Who knew that men thought women were funny sometimes?

Handily, the cast is a top-notch roster of established and undiscovered female comedy talent. Kristen Wiig gets a well-deserved leading role as Annie, and her camaraderie with Maya Rudolph's Lillian is entirely believable. The film is at its strongest when these two are interacting together. And although Melissa McCarthy at first appears to be a transparent attempt at a female Zach Galifianakis character, my worries were dispelled by the way that her character, Megan, is pretty much the most sensible character in the film. Eccentric, perhaps inevitably, but she's not the film's butt monkey.

Special kudos goes to Rose Byrne, who has the hardest job of any of the cast with Helen, playing a character who's a bitch to Annie for most of the film and yet doesn't overshoot into cartoonish levels of nastiness. Byrne had a brief role in last year's Get Him to the Greek, and has now proved herself more than capable of holding her own in comedy roles. Keeping the men's end up, there's an endearing turn by Chris O'Dowd, and an enjoyably despicable turn from Jon Hamm as Annie's unreconstructed fuck buddy.

With a cast this good, on such good form, the biggest disappointment about Bridesmaids, to me, was that it bored me as much as it did. It's a problem that I have to put down to the Judd Apatow mode of comedy, which is just getting really tired by now. Some of the scenes go on for an embarrassingly long time, sometimes without even having any decent laughs to punctuate such drawn-out sequences. This is a film that limps to 125 minutes. I suspect I'd have liked it just as much as everyone else if it had been 30 minutes shorter.I'm sure it'll make for a great "Longer, Ruder, Funnier, Sleepier" cut when the flick comes to DVD, but Apatow has to stop churning out patchwork comedy films like this.

His films always wind up with more footage than they'd ever need, indulging the improv talents of the actors, and then stitching together the greatest hits package for the cinema. It worked for The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up, but it hasn't worked since. The adverse effect in this film is that there's a massive lull in the middle, where we're taken away from the enjoyable group dynamic to see Annie wallow in self-pity for about half an hour. That's clearly not the best use of Wiig's talents.

I almost hate to say it, but it brought me less big laughs than Bad Teacher had to offer. It's nothing to do with the fact that one has real, believable female characters while the other has Cameron Diaz doing a sexy carwash. I loved the characters in this film, but Bad Teacher just had more jokes that made me laugh. Although there were lots more things I liked about Bridesmaids, the lack of any really memorable belly laughs makes it slightly disappointing, for a comedy.

My only major problem with Bridesmaids is with the way its delivered. If you're not as tired of Apatow's tried and tested fomula as I am, or you like everything else that's good about it so much that you can overlook the baggy editing, you'll almost certainly have a blast with the film. Comedy's the most subjective kind of film you can enjoy, and by the sounds of it, people have been enjoying this one in droves. I stress that there is definitely a lot to like about it, but I'm just not sure I personally liked it overall. If you're unsure because of the marketing though, give it a shot. It's definitely better than it looks.

Bridesmaids is now showing in cinemas nationwide.
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 I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.

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