I’m going to go ahead and say Kristen Wiig delivers the best performance of the year—so far—by an actress in the raucously hilarious Bridesmaids. She is simply that good in the movie, delivering a well-rounded performance that beckons to be seen.
Wiig, who co-wrote the screenplay with Annie Mumolo, has flirted with movie greatness before, most notably in Paul, Adventureland and her brief but brilliant turn in Knocked Up. Bridesmaids is her first chance to headline, and she just kills it.
We’re introduced to Wiig’s character, Annie, in an awkward sex scene shared with Jon Hamm as her awful, remarkably insensitive screw buddy. The moment gives Wiig a nice opportunity to get the laughter ball rolling with some prize winning sex faces.
When Annie gets picked by her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) to be the maid of honor at her wedding, it comes at a really bad time. Annie has just lost all of her money on a failed bakery, her love life is a shambles, and her roommates are creepy British people.
She gives the gig her best shot, only to be consistently upstaged by prissy Helen (Rose Byrne), Lillian’s very rich new friend and a member of the bridal party vying for the top job. Other members of the party include the sweet and innocent girl Becca (Ellie Kemper), slutty housewife and angry mom Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey, who will never be more famous than she already is because of that crazy name), and the slightly frightening but somehow very likeable Megan (Melissa McCarthy).
There isn’t a moment when McCarthy is speaking that isn’t funny. Whether she’s using a sink as a toilet, biting Annie’s ass during a wrestling match, or stealing puppies, McCarthy’s Megan will stand as one of the year’s greater comic highlights.
Wiig and director Paul Feig find a nice balance between effective, sweet drama and all out raunchiness. There are few scenes in here that earn instant recognition in the Gross-Out Hall of Fame.
Just to clarify: The Gross-Out Hall of Fame is an institution that I made up for the purpose of this review. It doesn’t have an actual location, so don’t plan any weekend trips with the kids. Furthermore, if you are the kind of parents who would take your kids to a place called The Gross-Out Hall of Fame, if it actually existed, you should be ashamed of yourselves! (Actually, I jest—that would make you pretty cool in my book.)
What Wiig does with her Annie is deliver the kind of comic performance Steve Martin used to deliver at the height of his career in films like Planes, Trains & Automobiles and Roxanne. She puts forth fiercely funny stuff with a heart and a brain and a willingness to get super dirty if the moment calls for it.
Annie’s flirtation with a goofy Irish cop (Chris O’Dowd) makes for some of the better, more real film romance I’ve seen in some time. O’Dowd and Wiig have great chemistry, and the moments they spend onscreen together are sometimes so charming it hurts. O’Dowd is effortlessly funny and able to break your heart at a moment’s notice, as well.
This film marks the last appearance of the great Jill Clayburgh, who died of cancer last year. She plays Annie’s mom and gets plenty of laughs during her screen time. It’s nice to see this classy, great actress go out on a high note and, thanks to a resemblance, is perfectly cast as Wiig’s mom.
So, if you don’t mind a little raunch—make that a lot of raunch—with your laughs, get thee to Bridesmaids. Wiig’s performance is some sort of comic miracle, and the movie she has written around it has a big heart, the sweetest darned Irish cop you’re ever likely to see, and a lot of hilarious barfing.