Directed by: Paul Feig
Written by: Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ellie Kemper
Raunchy comedies typically lean in one direction when looking at the demographic makeup. Unsurprisingly, it usually lands with male leads, seeing as men are allowed to be gross and insert a number of fart jokes into their comedy and still be considered humorous. The perception of women starring in their own iteration of that comedy was unheard of until the inception of the hilarious Bridesmaids, which broke plenty of barriers and did it in style.
After having her bakery shut down due to the recession, Annie (Kristen Wiig) gets the jolt of energy she needs by becoming the maid of honor for her best friend, Lillian’s (Maya Rudolph) wedding. With the duties of planning all of the major events, she meets the other bridesmaids, who each have their own quirks, but one, in particular, continues to vie for the attention of Lillian.
The crassness of Bridesmaids may shock new viewers because it shows women in situations where one would be accustomed to seeing men, particularly in comedies. You just have to watch the scene where a particular character literally defecates in the middle of the street because of some bad food they ate. However, the film also highlights the power of a story of these women controlling the narrative through the writing and the acting. It becomes entirely about them, their desires, faults, and ambitions.
Leading the feature is Kristen Wiig, who grows the most throughout the film in her pursuits to have a stable relationship and job. Her dream was vanquished by the recession and her bakery could not survive, which puts her in a completely different position than the other bridesmaids. Everyone else, despite their quirks, seems to have their lives put together. Becca (Ellie Kemper) is newly married and feels bad for Annie’s single plight. Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey) lives a luscious and erratic life, Megan (Melissa McCarthy) drums to her own beat, and the vicious Helen (Rose Byrne) seeks to supplant Annie as the maid of honor. Annie has plenty to juggle, and expectedly, many things go wrong.
Wiig’s performance shows the comedic promise she showed in her time at “Saturday Night Live,” and this remains her greatest work in this genre. It surely helps when she’s surrounded by tremendous talent both emerging and seasoned. Maya Rudolph can do no wrong in any role she takes on and unsurprisingly, she excels as the straight person compared to the wacky set of characters around her. Rose Byrne continued her ascent in the comedy world as well, by matching the level of bougie with arrogance to rival someone a bit more simple like Wiig’s Annie. Melissa McCarthy stole the entire show with a performance good enough to land her an Academy Award nomination with the character of Megan. Ellie Kemper matches the naivete with her incredible whit, which she will continue to do with incredible success. It culminates in such a strong cast even before mentioning the fun side characters portrayed by John Hamm and Chris O’Dowd.
Directing Bridesmaids is the incredible Paul Feig, who knows how to capture women acting in ways society would not expect. He created the best Ghostbusters film and put together an incredibly sharp feature in A Simple Favor. He has no issues displaying scenes that go off the wall, but he remains in control of the narrative as to not let them get sloppy. He navigates these stories with delectable finesse, which will have you concerned to see how far things will go, only to realize, it exceeds your expectations. I truly enjoy the films he crafts and Bridesmaids shows yet another example of the way he can put comedy together with legitimate human emotion.
Filled to the brim with laughs and showing women in a completely different comedic light, Bridesmaids left a mark in Hollywood filmmaking. Its success shows a road map to what can be accomplished and further knocks down the walls limiting female voices into the world of comedy. The director’s wit was beautifully matched by the tremendous cast, who each displayed what makes them such special talents in their field. Several moments will leave you in shock for how far it goes, but it all comes together to tell a very good story about not giving up on life and the dreams we had when much younger.