Bridesmaids (Rated PG-13) 4 Stars
So, Director Paul Feig sure has done a whole lot of television … and pretty good television, at that (The Office, Weeds, Arrested Development, and even Freaks and Geeks). Clearly he’s got that awkward yet touching in-teraction thing down. You know, that thing where otherwise likeable charac-ters say or do stupid things that result in long silences and tragicomic disasters … like when Michael Scott wore a woman’s suit to Dunder-Mifflin, or when Nancy Botwin tries to make decisions more complicated then what flavor syrup to put in her latte.
It does seem a little bit odd that star/co-writer Kristin Wiig would go with a male director when there are so many talented female romantic com-edy directors. Whoops … time for an aside. Once I eliminated the direc-tors who specialize in the various film niches (Independent, Drama, etc.), and once I discount Catherine Hardwicke because Twilight was only unintentionally hilarious, there are only about three or four female directors who do successful mainstream romantic comedies. Penny Marshall and Amy Heckerling haven’t done anything awesome in about 10 years, and Nora Ephron is super irritating for a variety of reasons. So, there’s probably a feminist message there about female directors avoiding romantic comedies because it is exactly the genre that our society would expect female directors to focus on, or how Hollywood is sexist, but this is a movie review and not a critical film essay, so moving on now.
Bridesmaids (125 minutes) made me laugh, but was also vaguely depress-ing. I tend to be one of those “don’t call me a ‘chick’” chicks, and seeing a cel-ebration of everything I reject about chickness is a bit hard to enjoy. There’s fe-male competition and lavish spending on useless dresses that only serve to make most women feel fat and unattractive. Not to mention the materialism inherent in most weddings, this particular movie first emphasizes the poverty of Annie (Kristin Wiig) and then does not deal in any way with how she manages to af-ford the expenses associated with the dresses, engagement party, bachelorette party, etc. I make a decent income and I would skip a wedding before buying an $800 bridesmaid gown! Insanity!
Plus, I can’t quite figure why Annie’s best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) has developed the relationship that drives most of the central conflict. Lillian intro-duces Annie to her new close friend, Helen Harris (Rose Byrne) at the engage-ment party, but throughout the movie Helen is selfish, manipulative, snobbish and hated by small children. This relationship is uncomfortably close to exploit-ative, since Lillian apparently allows Helen to provide her with outrageous gifts and pay for most of the pre-wedding parties and entertaining. And this is all done while Lillian’s father (Franklyn Ajaye) laments the high cost of the wedding itself that, even in this day and age, he is apparently footing most of the bill for. But maybe that’s just me, and I am happy to claim complete and total ignorance of this part of chicktown.
The rest of the cast is filled out with some funny B-listers, even if at least two of them seem beside the point, (Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ellie Kemper, Melissa McCarthy) and one Very Cute Cop (Chris O’Dowd with a Euro-whoosit accent that IMDB.com says is Irish). Now, he is meant to serve as the ro-mantic part of the romantic comedy, but as cute as he is, he comes off as alarmingly controlling.
Overall, I suppose this is an above average romantic com-edy that is just funny enough to make up for the backwards sexual politics that underlie the script.