Friday, May 20, 2011

Bridesmaids Blasts

Neil and Eric were talking about going to a wedding, or some such thing.  
I wasn't really paying attention as 
I just wanted to take the afternoon off and hunt.

      Kristen Wiig is a fabulous babe because she’s smart, hilarious, and sexy.  She took some getting used to on Saturday Night Live because her recessive style seemed to be out of sync with the rat-tat-tat testosterone rhythm of that show.  However, after seeing her for a season on that show, Neil and I wanted to see her more.  After two seasons, I couldn’t imagine SNL working without her.  She was unique in Knocked Up because she didn’t play obviously for laughs, though I wasn’t sure about her in Adventureland.  However, in Paul earlier this year, she was delightful as a Fundamentalist campground owner and never patronized the character. She and Annie Mumolo have written a classic comedy with a major role for her and she delivers a major performance.  This is a star comedy breakout performance on a par with Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman and Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde or, to go further back, Goldie Hawn in Private Benjamin or Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday.

      Bridesmaids undercuts our expectations and, in doing so, goes deeper, darker, and funnier.  It seems like it’ll be a cute comedy about female friendship or a raucous female version of The Hangover with a final setting in Vegas.  It’s neither.  It’s an honest look at what it means to be BFF and the envy and despair that can envelop a decent person when her life isn’t working out on any level and she knows that she’s partly to blame, but cannot easily find a way out.  Her life has become yet another fallout from the continuing down turn in the economy.  That makes it sound like a downer, but it isn’t.  It’s about struggle and the small things that can turn around a life.  Even though it was probably filmed mainly in California, a lot of it really does look like Milwaukee, suburban Wisconsin, and Chicago.  Yes, there’s a wedding at the end and, yes, a number of couples get connected by the end and, yes, there are even shots of darling puppy Labradors.  However, the wedding is tempered by its over the top tackiness, the couples have been through the rudest types of ups and downs, and the puppies – well, the puppies are just darling, though the movie keeps it real by showing the difficulty in house training them. 

      The casting is spot on.  The complex tugs of affection and exasperation between Wiig and Maya Rudolph as the bride feel like actual people with an extensive shared history.  Rose Byrne, who can put on any kind of accent, and has been a strong dramatic actress on Damages and independent movies is wickedly funny detailing her character’s insecurities that drive her to greater feats of plagiarism and pretension.  Wendi McLendon-Covey is as drop deadpan gorgeous and startlingly blasé as she was on Reno 911.  However, Melissa McCarthy, star of Mike and Molly, plays the tough girl with such optimistic confidence that she’s most attractive when daring Wiig to beat her up in a tough love sequence that’s like a half dozen sessions with a TV motivational expert.  Chris O’Dowd has a casual, low-key humor that meshes with Wiig and provides a grace note at the end, rather than the Cinderella hearts and violins moment that current romantic comedies aim at but miss because they don’t feel authentic.  In her last role, Jill Clayburgh – obviously ill – physically matches up with Wiig as her mother because of her vocal tics and her gestures.  

      How funny was it?  There were senior citizen couples falling out of their chairs laughing and three female friends in front of us who seemed to be remembering incidents in their own lives that recalled those on the screen.  Basically, it’s a movie to see on an empty bladder – there’s a sequence on a plane that is that funny.

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