Starring Kristen Wiig, Rose Byrne, and Maya Rudolph. Rated 14A. Opens Friday, May 13, at the Ridge Theatre
In many ways, Bridesmaids is a feminine take on the kind of gross-out movie that’s usually aimed at overgrown boys. Saturday Night Live’s Kristen Wiig—who doubles as star and cowriter—seems brazenly determined to push the comic envelope. The result is a comedy on the competitive nature of female friendship that is aggressively uneven: sometimes smart, occasionally tender, and—once or twice—so self-consciously ballsy that I found myself chuckling out of sheer embarrassment.
Wiig plays the limp-haired Annie, a former pastry chef whose life has come to resemble a fallen cake. She’s lost her business, her boyfriend, and most of her self-esteem. Her occasional bed partner is a smug jerk (Mad Men’s Jon Hamm) who delights in letting her know that he’s just using her for sex. The two things Annie has going for her? Her best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph), and an understanding mother (the late Jill Clayburgh, in her final performance).
Annie’s strategy for beating the blues is to throw herself into the preparations for Lillian’s upcoming wedding. She’s shocked to discover that she has a conniving rival in Helen (Rose Byrne), a rich and beautiful socialite who is determined to become Lillian’s new best friend. The jealous Annie becomes so increasingly obsessed with besting Helen that she keeps spurning the attentions of a smitten highway patrolman (Chris O’Dowd, in the film’s most ingratiating performance).
Director Paul Feig steers us through a patchy narrative that veers from a touching speech on perseverance to a scene in which a heavyset woman is urgently compelled to relieve herself in a bathroom sink. How much of this is funny? I guess it depends on your point of view. I noticed plenty of women around me laughing knowingly. Me, I just didn’t get it.
But then, maybe I wasn’t supposed to.
Watch the trailer for Bridesmaids.