Why should men have all the fun? Featuring an almost entirely female cast, Bridesmaids does what few comedies have done before: it delivers a story both about and for women, but with all the R-rated, raunchy and hilarious jokes typically seen in guy's films. Bridesmaids is the funniest movie of the year.
Properly referred to as the female version of The Hangover, Bridesmaids seeks to get into the heads of women leading up to a wedding. The wedding itself, and the bond between the bride and groom, aren't important; instead, it's the camaraderie - or lack thereof - that drives the story. The movie may not be as funny as The Hangover, but it comes damn close.
In Bridesmaids, Kristen Wiig co-writes and stars as Annie, a depressed woman whose life is in the crapper. Her bakery business has failed, her love life consists of sleeping with a handsome but emotionally uninterested man (Jon Hamm) and her best friend (Maya Rudolph) is getting married - and has new friends are looking to upstage her as maid of honor.
As with other Judd Apatow-produced comedies, Bridesmaids has plenty of heart and character, but it's the nonstop laughs that will win over audiences. Unlike many chick films, nothing is off limits; Bridesmaids has plenty of toilet humor and grotesque jokes and the characters get themselves into just as many stupid, ridiculous situations as their male counterparts in other films.
Much of the film's success rests with Kristen Wiig, who, after several hilarious supporting performances in recent years cements herself as leading woman material. Wiig is hilarious, delivering an awkward, yet sentimental performance. Her character is far from flawless, and many of the problems she and the other bridesmaids encounter in the story are her fault, but she's easy to relate to, easy to like. Wiig has mastered the ability to make the most of each line of dialogue.
The rest of the cast is also solid. Rose Byrne is great as Annie's nemesis; she takes advantage of the fact that it's never clear whether her actions are malicious or only perceived as such by Annie.
The real surprise is Melissa McCarthy, the "overweight" bridesmaid, who delivers a hilariously brusque and crude performance. While her character could have easily been kept to stereotype, McCarthy elevates the material, highlighted by a touching scene between she and Annie in the third act. The role isn't as career defining as Zach Galifianakis' in The Hangover, but it comes close.
Chris O'Dowd also is excellent as Annie's love interest; while often understated and not traditionally handsome, he won over the women in the theater almost instantaneously.
There's little downside to Bridesmaids. As with so many Judd Apatow-produced movies, the comedy balances sentimentality with crude, exaggerated humor and finds perfect synergy between the two. At the end of the year, it would not be surprising at all to find Bridesmaids is still the best comedy of 2011.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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