Bridesmaids raises the bar

It combines comic forces for a whole new level of chick flick

Look, off to the left!

Look, off to the left!

Starring Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph. Directed by Paul Feig. Cinemark 14, Feather River Cinemas and Paradise Cinema 7. Rated R.
Rated 4.0

Having just gotten married and now preparing to be the matron of honor in my sister’s wedding this summer, I figured Bridesmaids was an appropriate choice for a recent Friday evening. And considering the crop of comediennes in the cast, I was able to drag the hubby along, even to a movie with such a chick-flicky title.

“They made a mistake calling it Bridesmaids,” he whispered halfway through the movie. “This is hilarious!”

He was right, too. Kristen Wiig (SNL), who’s played second fiddle to MacGruber for far too long, is finally a leading lady. But consider this film her training wheels—she’s backed up by the outstanding Maya Rudolph (the bride) and other lesser-known, but just as funny, women.

Here’s the gist: Annie (Wiig) is a 30-something who’s stuck in a relationship rut (“This is awkward—I want you to leave but I don’t know how to ask,” says a perfectly carefree Jon Hamm in bed). Her BFF Lillian (Rudolph) is getting married, quickly asks her to be her maid of honor, and introduces her to the other bridesmaids: MILF Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey, Reno 911), naïve Becca (Ellie Kemper, The Office), mannish Megan and rich and pretentious Whitney (Rose Byrne). What could possibly go wrong, right?

The biggest tension is between Annie and Whitney, who come from different social and financial classes and quickly begin to fight for the affection and attention of the bride-to-be. Funny things happen, but Lillian takes it personally, and before the wedding even happens, she and Annie are on the outs. In the meantime, Annie meets a cute highway patrolman (Chris O’Dowd) and a mini romance blossoms.

Bridesmaids could easily be considered the female version of The Hangover, only slightly more drawn out—both in the time span covered in the film and the time between big, hearty laughs. But fear not; this film is full of those. Annie is basically an accident waiting to happen, and she brings food poisoning and sleeping-pill drunkenness to an all-new level, but Megan (an extremely butch Melissa McCarthy) comes in close second as funniest/weirdest. Let me put it this way: If she were in The Hangover, she’d be Zach Galifianakis’ character. Rudolph is predictably good—she’s even able to retain a bit of glamour amidst poop-your-pants comedy.

In all, the entire cast is good. Director Paul Feig, who’s done mostly TV up to this point—including episodes of The Office and Arrested Development—clearly knows his comedy. But Wiig gets double kudos here, because beyond her likeable acting, she also co-wrote the script (with fellow Groundlings member Annie Mumolo, with whom she shares a plane scene in which both of them are terrified of flying).

Now I’m off for my sister’s bachelorette party in Atlantic City, N.J. Wish me luck; after what I’ve just seen, I might need it.