In a world that deems Katherine Heigl “not totally and utterly shit at everything she attempts” (The Guardian), it’s always a relief to find an actress who can actually deliver the comedy goods. Kristen Wiig, veteran of Saturday Night Live, is an absolute delight in this gross-out romp, dragging what could have been a fairly mediocre LOL-flick into repeat-viewing territory.
As with all good films not really about plot, the plot gets underway fairly swiftly: Annie, unlucky in love, work and living situation is drafted in to be the maid of honour to her life-long friend Lillian. Deciding to put aside her various troubles in the good name of friendship, Annie gets to work ensuring that Lillian’s big day is all it can be; swearing she’ll do all she can to keep things running smoothly. Except, of course, she doesn’t. Hampered by everything from food poisoning to accidental drugging to that bloke from Mad Men being a right dick, Annie soon struggles to keep this party wagon on any kind of track. And it’s made all the worse by Lillian’s simpering new friend Helen – a blemish-free demon determined to claw the Best Friends Forevz prize away from Annie’s sweaty, unglamourous fingers…
There’s been a lot of talk about how Bridesmaids may usher in an entirely NEW idea: women being, like, actually funny. Though this is obviously a horrifyingly reductive statement – in the recent past alone women like Emma Stone, Tina Fey, Drew Barrymore and Ellen Page have been quietly making Hollywood a much more hilarious place – it does highlight the fact that we still don’t expect women to be disgusting and get away with it. In terms of crushing this apparently still up and-at-em-stereotype, Bridesmaids does the job admirably: the humour is fast-past, raucous and heavily (heavily) body-fluid-based. Ever wanted to watch a woman in a wedding dress do a big poo on a road? Your prayers are soon to be answered, you poor, sick thing. Though most of the cast are desperately underused (comedy first, character balance second, dammit), those who do get the screen time (mainly Wiig, Maya Rudolph and a brilliant Melissa McCarthy) fill the running-time confidently; all working bloody hard to ensure the evident reliance in their comic expertise is not misplaced.
Wearying “is they funny like?” issues aside (yes, yes they are, they’re girls and they are, alright, can we just stop asking the question and let them get back to the washing up), it has to be said that Bridemaids is not a perfect film. Many of the set-pieces go on for far too long, and a couple, such as a mass vomiting scene suggested by Funny Man Apatow, seem unnecessary and cheap. The storyline, such as it is, is more of a basic frame to hang lots of jokes from – hence comparisons to other situation-driven films like The Hangover – and the character imbalance implies that the plot could have done with a bit more polishing before shoving it into production. But, much like all of Apatow’s creations, you can’t help but forgive it its flaws for its funnies. Wiig’s script is warm, witty and silly, and her performance is a masterclass in comedy. It’ll be nice to see what she does without Apatow adding the banana peel and squirty flowers.