By MICHAEL WALTERS
Although “Bridesmaids” is being marketed as a sort of “Hangover” for women, it’s really a lot better, smarter, and funnier than that. Yes it has its share of over the top set pieces and enough poop and puke jokes to satisfy the 11 year old boy in all of us. But its more grounded in the real dynamics of relationships than anything in that huge box office hit. This is no chick flick. This is a raunchy comedy done right.
Kristin Wiig stars as a down on her luck thirty-something. After her bakery goes belly up, she’s stuck in a dead end job, and a dead end relationship as the occasional hook-up of Jon Hamm. Then when her childhood friend Maya Rudolph gets engaged- she’s asked to be the maid of honor.
As if it weren’t torturous enough to have to plan your best friend’s dream day while your own life is going into the crapper, Wiig also must defend her spot in the bridesmaids pecking order. Her chief rival among the bridesmaids is the wife of Rudolph’s fiance’s boss Helen (Rose Byrne). After a couple of early events planned by Wiig don’t exactly go according to plan- Helen offers to take over the duties. She’s got more money, more connections, and more glamour and threatens to overwhelm Wiig with her seemingly effortless opulence.
It’s refreshing to see Kristin Wiig finally getting a film role that highlights her considerable strengths. Gone is the often overeager mugging she displays on Saturday Night Live. Instead the comedy comes from the relationships she forms and her attempts to hold on to her best friend while preparing to help give her away to a new life. Byrne is wonderful as well and her character is nicely fleshed out beyond the typical little miss perfect real housewives type.
But Mike and Molly’s Melissa McCarthy steals the show as the black sheep bridesmaid and future in-law. The film gets a lot of mileage out of her considerable figure, but she milks it fearlessly for laughs while somehow maintaining a self respect.
The movie’s ending felt a little too neat and tidy to me especially considering all that progressed between the characters leading up to it. But it’s really a joy to see so many funny women get such meaty roles all in one movie. As for the guys, Jon Hamm and Chris O’Dowd are a delight, but they’re really more of an afterthought. But they get off better than the groom. He doesn’t get a single line except maybe “I do.”