Newest Review: ... friend Lillian is going to get married and has great plans for the build up to the wedding. However, there's a problem which comes in th... more
Your Name's Stove.. That's An Appliance
Member Name: JayHall1991
Advantages: Funny, Sweet, Well Written
Disadvantages: Can Go A Little Over The Top
On the run up to 'Bridesmaids' release much was made of Christopher Hitchen's article 'Why Women Aren't Funny'; an article which tried to argue, through scientific studies and personal testimony, that women cannot produce material as intrinsically hilarious as that of their male counterparts. He does concede that there are funny women, but they 'are hefty or dykey or Jewish' and are still only funny because they are funnelling their work through a male lens. Quite how he forgets visionaries like Lucille Ball or ignores the fact that two of the funniest sitcoms on air '30 Rock' and 'Parks and Recreation' are anchored by women is beyond me. But if ever there was proof needed that woman can produce balls to wall, nonstop hilarity 'Bridesmaids' would be it. It stands as a riotous, hilarious, heart-felt, witty, grotesque and moving testament to friendship, loss, inner-strength and family bonds. It is properly, rolling around on the floor hilarious, so much so that seeing it in a packed out cinema in the centre of London was one of the most fun viewing experiences I have ever had (the film almost dares you not to laugh). Each comedic set piece works, from the toilet stuff to the supremely witty, the drama is dead-on, the acting is superb and it manages to be that rarest of things; a film to please all people.
One of the things that makes it so appealing is the fact that it contains a mess of contradictions; it's aggressive in pursuit of laughs but delicate to the core, it's unexpectedly outlandish yet refreshingly small-scale and most importantly you get the sense that it's a product of genuine thought, humility and care. At its centre 'Bridesmaids' is a little story about a woman who spent her life tethering herself to sinking ships - a woman who doesn't feel she is worthy enough to anchoring onto solid foundations. It's also about food poisoning (one of the most talked about sequences in recent memory), being drugged on an airplane (one of the funniest sequences in recent memory) and one woman's fight to turn a wedding into a 'Fight Club' re-enactment. It gets the balance just right and that is why it succeeds where many others have failed; sentiment is only engaging when it's is deserved and humour is only ever truly humorous when it's based in some kind of reality. The woman at the centre of the film all feel real, at least in the sense that they are not occupying some kind of Hollywood prototype. They are sweet, rude, confident and insecure and seeing what happens to them, and how they deal with the various stumbling blocks to their own happiness, is one of the biggest pleasures of the film.
Whilst the gross-out elements of the film have garnered it a huge amount of publicity, they actually only make up a medium size percentage of the laughs; one scene in particular, involving a wedding speech 'battle', truly attacks the funny bone. It's hard to put into words just how consistently funny the film is, and even if some of the jokes don't stick (which like most comedies happens more frequently towards the conclusion) there are twenty more right around the corner. It's an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to comedy, something which is, by and large, grating - but here it works; in trying to appeal to everyone it actually succeeds. Unlike many recent raunchy comedies (The Hangover 2 I'm looking at you here) it doesn't rely on the big-scale, trailer worthy gags; without the 'big-draw' moments it would still be a witty and silly addition to the comedy roster. That doesn't mean that it always gets it right, there are plenty of character beats which don't feel correct - some of Annie's more crazy moments make her seem more deranged than the plot-line suggests and there are some really bizarre non-sequitors. Often Wiig's script makes a damning mistake; she assumes that for the audience to be on side with her main character we have to pity her - leading to some quite ludicrous dialogue and an over-reliance of self deprecating high-jinx.
However, the writing is mostly fantastic; sharp, sweet and, thankfully, wonderfully paced. It builds a sort of laid-back momentum which serves it well and builds to a genuinely satisfying conclusion which ends the central romantic conflict well and show's most of the character's learning a lesson or two. In keeping with Wiig's work on Saturday Night Live a lot of the dialogue feels improvised, natural and just plain fun. Of course, this is bolstered by some truly brilliant performances; Wiig, who is one of the most annoying players in the current SNL roster, proves herself to be a great physical comedienne and an able dramatic lead. Her free-wheeling physicality is much better placed here than in some of sketches, adding a dimension to Annie, as opposed to being the centre piece of her act. She does lean on her loose limbness a bit too much, but there is real depth to her portrayal of a woman completely lost. Maya Rudolph is characteristically wonderful, she really is one of the most professional, heart-warming presences on the comedic landscape (see her lovely performance in 'Away We Go' for extra proof). But it is Melissa McCarthy who steals the show, she is a very good comedienne; fearless in the very positive sense, confident and brimming with humanity. She puts some really interesting edges on an already well drawn character.
Can Bridesmaid's put a full stop on the insane argument over women's ability to be funny? Can it, through its sheer force of talent and will, shoulder the burden of years of secondary female comedy characters? Maybe not, and I feel very strongly that it shouldn't have to in the modern world, but it is genuinely excellent. It takes a lot of work to make something look this effortless and it is such a gracefully realised, confident gem. It a comedy with brains and hearts and, most importantly, it's a love-letter to friendships; male or female.
Summary: A Warm and Witty Installment in the Raunch Genre