In movies, it’s no small secret that women often get the short end of the deal. I mean, think about it. They’re mostly relegated to mom or girlfriend roles, with only the occasional meaty part that men seem to get in the industry so frequently. If they do in fact get their own starring vehicle, it’s rarely much beyond the odd romantic comedy. So the recent Judd Apatow-produced comedy “Bridesmaids”, actually carries a good deal more cultural significance than was probably intended. It’s something of a tester, to gauge if all audiences can respond to a female-driven comedy the way they can to a male one. And I can appreciate that.
The pieces were certainly in place to make a great, memorable comedy; and if critical consensus and box-office are any indicators, the majority of America believes the pieces clicked together. As for me, I feel like “Bridesmaids” doesn’t quite know what its shooting for. It tries to balance the arc of a woman (Kristen Wiig) trying to piece her life back together with rauncy, crude, “Hangover”-esque humor. But I feel like it doesn’t properly emphasize either, so in other hands, neither aspects really work.
The film’s about Annie, played by Wiig, who is selected to be the maid of honor for her best friend Lillian’s (Maya Rudolph) wedding. Annie’s at something of a low-point in her life, after the failure of her newly-opened-cakery and moving in with an erratic brother-sister duo. (the bizarre incestual undertones of which are uncomfortable yet brilliant comedy)Annie is given the task of coordinating all the various pre-marital events: Dress fittings, parties, wedding dinners, et cetera. But for this, she faces competition in Helen, Lillian’s gorgeous other best friend who will do whatever it takes to derail Annie’s relationship with Lillian.
Now, there are a few moments in “Bridesmaids” where the film’s potential is fully developed and realized. Ditto the brutal dress-fitting sequence, in which all six bridesmaids fall prey to food poisoning. (Note: If you don’t want to be subconsciously turned off of Brazilian cuisine, don’t see this film.) There’s also a scene aboard a plane, a 15-minute marvel where motivations and tensions slowly simmer and eventually blow up in everyone’s face.
What these two sequences have in common is a slow, workmanlike pace. It takes time to develop an elaborate scenario with various forces playing against each other, both culminating in gut-busting hysteria. And what they have in common is that they’re head-and-shoulders above everything else in the movie.
Most of the jokes in the film come from the characters’ various idiosyncrasies and personalities. But in order for them to work, the characters themselves have to feel fully fleshed and developed. Save for Kristen Wiig, I don’t believe I felt fully convinced by any of the actors’ work here. They play the characters to a certain degree of ridiculousness, yet in the third act try and turn it around to bring a most realistic take on it. I didn’t entirely buy it.
“Bridesmaids” did have to walk a tight-rope, and I can admire and respect that. But the film’s problem is that it isn’t funny, or heartfelt. It’s just not funny or heartfelt enough. C