So what if BRIDESMAIDS is an unabashedly obvious attempt to capitalize on the massive success of THE HANGOVER by making a version for chicks? A good story is a good story, good humor is good humor, and Kristen Wiig, the writer and star of BRIDESMAIDS, homers the shit out of this movie into the stratosphere. After watching this, I can only wonder why it took Hollywood this long to give Wiig a film to carry. For its 2 hours and 4 minutes running time, the film doesn’t skip a beat and never slows down its pace. In a rare showing for a comedy, both of the film’s comedic and dramatic moments work beautifully without feeling forced in any way. Judd Apatow, the producer of BRIDESMAIDS, once again proves himself to be in perfect touch with America’s comedic pulse and he also makes up for his disastrous 2009 misstep, FUNNY PEOPLE. Like Jerry Bruckheimer, Apatow has established himself as a brand for raunchy-sweet R-rated comedy. It can truly be said that he has become this generation’s John Hughes.

Kristen Wiig leads a cast of talented comedians as she plays Annie, a single woman in her late-30s whose best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph), asks Annie to become her maid of honor. What would normally be a duty any best friend would gladly accept, Annie instead comes to dread her appointed matrimonial task. For one, Annie has to deal with her friend’s new best friend, Helen (Rose Byrne), a beautiful, perfectly-put-together, Country Club wife, who immediately begins to compete for Lillian’s attention and affection. Annie soon finds herself being outdone at every turn by Helen’s always perfect suggestions for planning the wedding. What’s more, Annie’s personal life just doesn’t seem to pan out no matter what she does: her “boyfriend” (Jon Hamm) is an uncaring asshole who only uses her for sex, the bakery business she put all her savings in has gone out of business, and she has very little in savings. The added stress of planning her best friend’s wedding is enough to make Annie go insane and she pretty much does.

From the very first scene, you know you’re in for a raunchy ride. BRIDESMAIDS begins with Annie at her part-time boyfriend’s house having sex. Her boyfriend is a noncommittal douchebag who keeps Annie around whenever he pleases. When they’re done and he’s satisfied, Annie is simply asked to leave his house. We soon realize that this “relationship” is one piece of Annie’s sad and pathetic life. Her recently opened bakery has now gone out of business and she has ended up getting a job as a saleslady at a jewelry store, which she got through her mom’s AA connection with the store’s owner. She has no money and she drives a shitty car with broken brake lights. Even if you can’t relate to Annie, you immediately connect with her and not just because of her sad existence, but mostly because despite her situation, she is a positive and hilarious individual. Kristen Wiig has created the perfect character for our current Recession. Annie is a survivor who does whatever she can to get by. She recognizes her shitty situation and shrugs it off as just another fact of life. We can all identify with her to some degree and she becomes the anchor of the film. What’s more, as the film’s story progresses, Wiig’s character represents the class anxieties that arise from her best friend’s ascension into a higher social class. Annie and Lillian came from working-class Milwaukee, but with her wedding, Lillian is bound for Chicago’s country club set and new shiny, pretty friends like Helen.

BRIDESMAIDS has a very straightforward, simple story. It is about a Maid of Honor who has to deal with a manic version of all the typical things a Maid of Honor has to deal with before a wedding. First and foremost, however, BRIDESMAIDS is a strongly character-driven piece. The characters completely drive the movie along and the film’s success solely depends on them. The film contains so many wonderful characters worth commenting about that I practically dreaded writing this review for the length of time it would take to write it. Now I know many guys might be turned off by the fact that the main characters of this movie are all women. They can’t possibly be as funny as guys, especially the guys in that other popular bachelor wedding movie, THE HANGOVER. Guys, don’t worry – this is a boy’s movie too. BRIDESMAIDS is a boy’s film insofar as the humor is often crude and sexually derived. The women in this movie are just as outrageous and funny as THE HANGOVER, SUPERBAD, KNOCKED UP, and THE 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN. Unfortunately, not all of the supporting actresses in this film have enough to do. Melissa McCarthy emerges in what we might consider as the Zach Galifianakis role. She’s basically Chris Farley in high heels and she walks off with every single scene she is in. Wendy McLendon-Covey (from RENO 911) plays Dana, a harried mother looking for a wild time to numb the pain of having children. There’s Ellie Kemper (THE OFFICE), who plays innocent, naïve Becca.

The film has plenty of moments of outrageous humor, most notably a scene in which the ladies get food poisoning from a Brazilian restaurant and have to unload themselves during a dress-fitting session. However, at the same time, BRIDESMAIDS grounds the comedy in something deeper and emotional. Annie reaches that point in her life where she has hit bottom and she must face the unpleasant truth about herself. It’s a theme that can easily be handled in a drama, but not so easily in a comedy. In fact, had this film been a drama, it would have been pretty depressing, but Kristen Wiig is able to perfectly spin it as a comedy and give it a genuine sense of humanity without going overboard with it or making it look cheesy.

Not surprisingly, the movie does contain the obligatory romance. Annie is pulled over one night by an unassuming traffic cop (Irish actor Chris O’Dowd and probably the only Irish cop in the state of Wisconsin) for having broken brake lights. The two engage in some humorous banter and develop a romance. I have to say that the romance part has usually been the lamest thing in a lot of recent romantic comedies, but here the love story is actually very sweet and funny. As unlikely of a pair as they look and sound, Wiig and O’Dowd demonstrate a fine chemistry from their first scene together.

Its easy to write BRIDESMAIDS off as an attempt to cash in on the success of THE HANGOVER. However, I think this is an unfair comparison because for as chaotic and wild of a comedy as BRIDESMAIDS is, its grounded in plausible realities far more than in THE HANGOVER. I also wouldn’t really classify this as a Judd Apatow movie even though he serves as the film’s producer. Most of the credit has to go to Kristen Wiig and director Paul Feig. Wiig’s contribution really shows in this movie in the attention to the details and realities of friendships among women. These women are not like the materialistic, shallow women in SEX AND THE CITY, where they spend most of their time shopping, traveling, and revolving their lives around men instead of themselves. The women in this movie are three-dimensional, funny, and insightful. I can’t remember the last time I saw a film where I laughed this loud and this often. I will probably have to see BRIDESMAIDS a second time just to catch the jokes that I missed the first time from all the laughing.

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