The girls show the boys how it’s done in Bridesmaids, an achingly funny mesh of gross out gags and heartfelt sentiment led by the new queen of comedy, Kristen Wiig.
For an example of stellar physical comedy, look no further than the opening scene in this film. It’s a sex scene between Wiig, who plays desperate and jobless Annie, and her sometime lover Ted played to scumbag perfection by Jon Hamm.
Usually this type of fare goes for shock rather than laughs, yet in the hands of these two performers and director Paul Feig, it achieves it goal: to make us laugh without pushing us away. Such success is unique. In fact, it can be argued that only a small number of adult comedies could be labelled a “success”. Bridesmaids is one of them.
As mentioned Wiig plays Annie, an unemployed baker whose love life is a mess. Adding more misery to her rock bottom world is the engagement of best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph), who chooses Annie as her maid of honour.
Penniless and with no idea how to handle the responsibility, Annie unintentionally makes a mess out of every pre-marriage ritual while entering in a rivalry with fellow bridesmaid, the wealthy Helen (Rose Byrne), and falling in love with charming police officer Nathan (Chris O’Dowd).
Bridesmaids is a part of the Judd Apatow slate of comedies, with the hit comedy maker producing. Usually his films are male-centric affairs, yet here the Apatow palate has widened with Bridesmaids the story of a +30 something woman dealing with love of all kinds: love of her friends, the men in her life, and love of herself.
This is the superstar break through which Wiig has been waiting for. The best thing on Saturday Night Live for quite some time, Wiig had been stealing scenes in films such as Ghost Town and Adventureland, yet had not been given the opportunity to lead a film. Now as both star player and screenwriter (sharing writing credits with Annie Mumolo), Wiig delivers big on her promise as the new queen of comedy, a long absent position that has finally been filled.
Strong is the chemistry with her cast. Wiig and Rudolph represent the best of SNL in their easy vibe and improvisational style; the on screen rivalry between Wiig and the ever reliable Byrne opens itself to many memorable moments (an engagement party speech will have many squirming and laughing at the same time); and the love story with O’Dowd works due to the easy chemistry between the two.
What really makes Bridesmaids work is it’s blending of the sweet and the crude, and the many physical comedy sequences found in between. Credit goes to director Paul Feig. A long time TV director (credits include Weeds and Nurse Jackie), Feig utilises the talent in front of him to create several memorable comedic sequences that are perfectly staged and executed, with a chaotic flight to Las Vegas the peak of hilarity and a gown fitting gone to hell the gross out scene of the year.
Such alignment of talent, story and comedy is a thing to be embraced, especially considering the dire straits the American comedy has found itself in. Hopefully Wiig and Feig have begun a new chapter in American comedy, rather than present a unique and wholly satisfying one off.