Monday, May 16, 2011
"Bridesmaids" isn't just funny, it's the best film of the year (so far)
Now mind you, when I proclaim a film released in early May to be the best film of the year, it doesn't hold much stock. Bridesmaids isn't perfect, but its flaws can be easily ignored by a very sharp, witty script co-written by Kristen Wiig (who was the main star of the film), some very strong performances from all the leading ladies, and a movie that balances the gross-out scenes with the heartfelt scenes with relative ease. People often liken this to a female "Hangover" and the comparisons are apt; however, I think "Bridesmaids" has a bit more heart and staying power. The hilarity of The Hangover (and its flaw) is that much of its humor derives from the unexpected. The first time you watch it, you completely are surprised; second time, you are not as surprised, but you still can't believe what you're seeing; but by the tenth time, the laughs aren't as big.
There's more to "Bridesmaids" than just shocking and unexpected humor. There's plenty of silly scatological humor in the film (especially the scene in the bridal shop which could rival any grossout scene that's out there), but a lot of the humor is character-based and the heart of the film comes from lead character Annie (Kristen Wiig), her relationships with her friends, with guys, and with herself. I've gotten pretty sick of Kristen Wiig and her schtick on Saturday Night Live. Her recurring characters revolve around the same, repeated joke and it's mind-boggling to me why they keep recycling her characters over and over again on the show. But, in minor roles from Knocked Up and Adventureland, she has proven herself to be a capable and rewarding actress. She easily is up to the task of the lead role of "Bridesmaids" and Maya Rudolph helps her out big time (Maya, I think, was perhaps one of the best female cast members from SNL). So it's heartwarming to see Kristen Wiig's talent fully realized in this film. Her zaniness is balanced out by her down-to-earth demeanor and she's very easily watchable on screen which makes the film very easy to get through.
...And that is good because the film, much like other Apatow productions, have the tendency to "stay in the bit" for a bit too long. You can tell Apatow loves watching his characters talk (whether or not he's had a hand in writing them or not) and knowing Paul Feig from his Freaks and Geeks days, you can tell he enjoys it too. So we have a lot of cases of characters just sort of breezing their way through a scene, taking their time, making the jokes, and letting things develop from there. This makes a 95-100 minute film flesh out to a 125 minute film which is unfortunately the case with too many Apatow movies and they are ultimately the biggest flaw. And yet, the films do such a good job with characterization and they are able to fit a surprising amount of laughs into the two hour plus timeframe that it's easily forgivable. However, it's undeniable that Bridesmaids could work just as well if it were twenty minutes shorter. Comic indulgence can wear off quite fast.
There are an abundance of memorable scenes in this film, however, and instead of going over them and spoiling the jokes for you, I'd much rather let you see for yourself. Comedy, ultimately, is subjective. It surprises me that the amount of Apatow detractors grows with each movie and for awhile there, their voices started to make sense when films like Get Him to the Greek and Funny People fell a little flat. Bridesmaids proves however that the Apatow stamp indeed has staying power and that he, along with Paul Feig and co-writer/star Kristen Wiig, deserved to be watched as their careers continue to grow and expand. Of course not everyone will love this film, not everyone will think of this film as highly as me or other actual critics.
I would be remiss if I didn't give a shout out to the rest of the supporting cast. Wendi Mc-Lendon Covey, from Reno 911 did a great job as well as Ellie Kemper, Rose Byrne, Jon Hamm, and Melissa McCarthy who practically steals the show with her bold, powerhouse comedic performance. She's just as crazy as Zach Galifianakis in The Hangover, but more aggressive and there is one scene where her character attempts to cheer up Annie and it really brought some unexpected depth to her character. I applaud the writers for having that scene in the film as I was just expecting her to be the go-to goofball/one-liner machine.
If you can go into "Bridesmaids" with reasonable expectations, I think you will be able to enjoy yourself easily. Yes, judging by the tv commercials and the trailers, Bridesmaids smells like your average chick flick. But trust me, coming from a 23-year-old man, it's not. It puts films like "Something Borrowed" to absolute shame. This is the standard all "chick flicks" should follow. Furthermore, I hate that I have to defend myself for loving this film. Comedy doesn't have to be gender specific or race specific, it just has to be funny. If you, as a guy, feel you're too "macho" to see this movie, do yourself a favor and grow a pair. It's a comedy, for fuck's sake, and a good one.. Plus, it's the perfect date movie. It's a movie that your date is going to love and you'll love it too. I feel no shame for loving this movie, I do feel ashamed of myself for feeling the need to defend myself but here we are. Nevermind all that though. Bridesmaids is great comedy that raises the standards for all other female-centric films and though I doubt we'll have many films like this in the near future, we can at least enjoy this film while the euphoric feeling lasts.