As anyone who’s read my reviews before knows, I’m generally not a fan of frat-boy humor. With rare exceptions, I don’t think gross-out jokes are funny, I don’t get a kick out of potty mouth and I think “blue” is a lovely color for a wall, but a very lazy shade of comedy. As such, it will come as no surprise that I didn’t enjoy Kristen Wiig’s big-screen, leading-lady debut. At all. Even though, you know, I adore Kristen Wiig.
Directed by TV veteran Paul Feig and co-scripted by Wiig and Annie Mumolo (who makes a cameo as Wiig’s hyper-panicked plane buddy), the film sets out to prove – I think – that these girls can play with the boys when it comes to relentless raunch. Instead of d**k jokes, we get vagina jokes. Instead of characters being kneed in the groin, we have multiple shots of characters being thwacked in the breasts. And instead of graphic discussions of sex we get… well, we get exactly that, actually. Unfortunately, for me, what this actually proves is that these women can be just as offensive and unfunny and unoriginal as their male counterparts… which is too bad, because I think Wiig is super-talented and deserves better material than that which she’s written for herself here. Because, if you’re keeping score, I adore her.
The story revolves around Annie (Wiig), a thirtysomething failed-baker-cum-jewelry-store employee, who’s sort of bobbing along without direction on life’s river. When her long-time best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph), announces she’s getting married and would like Annie to be the maid of honor, the ball gets rolling and Annie’s life gets progressively crappier. She meets Lillian’s other friends, who’ll make up the bridal party, and outrageous hijinks ensue. Our titular ladies are wealthy socialite Helen (Rose Byrne), sex-starved cougar Rita (Wendy McLendon-Covey), wholesome newlywed Becca (Ellie Kemper) and ballsy, butch Megan (Melissa McCarthy).
Much in the same way the stinker Bride Wars was built on the premise that weddings bring out the worst in female friendships, Bridesmaids relies on petty, selfish, bitchy behavior as its foundation. The gals get themselves into one predicament after another – including, but not limited to, a food-poisoning sequence that features, among other cringe-worthy highlights, a human-vomit chain with a multi-character side of explosive diarrhea – and I grew increasingly disappointed with each passing one.
Yet, based on the influx of glowing reviews, it looks like I’m in the minority. Apparently, I didn’t see what everyone else saw, and the things that made me roll my eyes made everyone else laugh out loud. I saw an over-long, often slow-moving film where a number of actresses I quite enjoy dumbed themselves down in a bid to appeal to… I don’t know, frankly. My movie-going pal and I tried to figure out whom the target demographic for this movie might be, and the best we could guess was: 15-year-old boys. Sure, it’s a great thing that Wiig is being taken seriously as an actress and a writer by the Powers That Be, and she tries her best to (unsuccessfully) ground the insanity in goofiness but, as I watched, all I kept thinking was, “Wow, Tina Fey would never have written something like this for herself.”
Films with an all-female leading cast are rare. Big-screen comedies headlined by a group of women, rarer still. So whyyyyyyyyyy, when one finally gets a greenlit in Hollywood, is there nary a likable, relatable character among them? Why are they caricatures? Why is the story stupid? Why does the sole, meaningful and real moment in the whole thing happen ten minutes before the closing credits?
I’ve said it multiple times: I adore Kristen Wiig. And maybe I set my expectations too high as a result. Maybe I’m a prude. Maybe I just didn’t “get” it. Dunno. But I do know that I left the theater dejected and hoping that Bridesmaids is an exception and not a new, Hangover-esque rule, when it comes to comedy.