Monday, July 11, 2011

Man on Film: Bridesmaids

In a down year for film, I can safely say that Bridesmaids has been one of the brightest spots on an otherwise bleak landscape. Going in, it was hard not to be hopeful as a big fan of the director, Freaks and Geeks creator Paul Feig, and much of the cast, including writer/star Kristen Wiig. 

My hopes were exceeded in every possible way. 

From beginning to end, this film is endearing, hilarious, honest, bawdy, and refreshing. The plight of Wiig's protagonist Annie is one that transcends gender. While clearly a woman, her struggles to come to terms with a life that hasn't played out as planned is easy for most of the audience to empathize with. As she continues to be the most destructive force in her life, it isn't difficult to see the worst of ourselves in Annie's behavior. Her struggles are not exclusively gender-based, as is too often the case in films featuring a majority of female characters, so her problems are relatable to both the male viewer as well.

Now in the nearly two months that have passed since the film opened, so much of what has been written about this film has focused on the fact that a women's comedy with a hard-R-rating has proved financially viable at the box office. I shall refrain from throwing my two cents in on that particularly irritating meme. As always, it's about the talent involved with the project. This film is ultimately successful because it is another Team Apatow production, and while some of the Apatow-directed films have been uneven, Judd Apatow has surrounded himself with a bevy of brilliant people. These brilliant people have shockingly crafted a brilliant comedy. That is the long and short of it. 

As for those brilliant people, Wiig's talents are front and center here. Her freak-outs (that I'll not spoil) are priceless. Her scenes with Jon Hamm are rife with insecurity and awkwardness. She aptly carries this film on her shoulders. 

This isn't to say that her supporting cast doesn't contribute. Rose Byrne is fantastic, as usual. Chris O'Dowd gets his first big opportunity stateside and delivers. Maya Rudolph is great. Jon Hamm is willing to make himself look like an asshole for the sake of the movie. Ellie Kemper, Wendi McLendon-Covey, and Melissa McCarthy are all outstanding as the remaining bridesmaids. 

If anything can be determined by the slew of crap movies this year, it's that making a movie this good must be pretty damned hard.

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