By Mike Richardson
Who says girls can’t be funny?
It’s a pleasant surprise to be dragged along to a “chick flick” by a wife or girlfriend and discover that what you’re expected to sit through is actually a reasonably enjoyable 90 minutes that doesn’t leave her bleary eyed and mascara stained and hating any man who isn’t a tortured doe-eyed teen vampire for a fortnight. What’s even better is when you wander along to see a “for the ladies film” that looks quite bearable from the trailer but turns out to be a stone cold, eight cylinder, does-she-have-a-sister stunner of a film. Welcome to Bridesmaids (2011).
It’s nigh on impossible not have heard something about this film as it’s been hailed as “the X chromosome Hangover” and in actuality it’s proof positive that the sisters can do it for themselves when it comes to laugh-out-loud box office success. The comparison with 2009’s The Hangover (the first one; the funny one) is a trifle unfair as, despite the fact that both films have a pre-wedding narrative, they’re as different as apples and pears, or Scarface (1983) and the Godfather (1972). What the two films do have in common is laughs per minute and the $$$$$ that they have both earned.
The story has Annie (co-scriptwriter Kristen Wiig) a thirtysomething singleton still reeling from a failed business and a failed relationship, being picked as her best friend’s Maid of Honor. A Maid of Honor (apologies for the American spelling) is a big deal in the US, closer to Best Man than Chief Bridesmaid, as she is expected to organise Bridal Showers, dress fittings, bachelorette (hen) parties and wrangle the bride to the altar in time whilst simultaneously tempering the inevitable Bridezilla moments.
Annie accepts the role with a heart-felt seriousness and desperately wants to do the best she can for her lifelong friend, but is immediately challenged by Super Saccharine Bitch Helen (Rose Byrne), a newer, posher, thinner, prettier, richer, more successful, more married, friend of Lillian’s. Unfortunately, Annie takes to the job of Maid of Honor like a duck to quantum physics and royally ballses everything up! Meanwhile the rest of her life continues to implode and her self-pity grows. Her hellish flatmates (two of many excellent supporting roles) Brynn and Gil (Rebel Wilson and Matt Lucas) irritate her to the point of no return: “Before you make those kinds of demands you should put a note on your door that says, ‘Do not come into my room and read my diary and wear my clothes.’” Gil suggests. The closest thing Annie has to a boyfriend, Ted (the excellently moronic John Hamm) is a premium wanker who turns down an invitation to attend the wedding with the following duplicitous statement: “I wouldn’t want you to have to explain what our relationship is to all those people. That would suck for you.” Annie hates her badly paid job and seems intent on sabotaging a burgeoning relationship with sweet State Trooper (a tidy rough-diamond turn from The IT Crowd’s Chris O’Dowd).
Bridesmaids comes from the Judd (producer) Apatow stable and you’d be forgiven for mentally filing it alongside such typical Apatow fare as Get Him to the Greek (2010), Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008) and Knocked up (2007), but that would be to sell it short. I’m not sure whether it’s the writing of Wiig or the “real” characters who look, act and react believably, but Bridesmaids pulls of the trick of being very, very funny from start to finish without ever insulting its audience or descending into a parody of what men think women are like. It will be best enjoyed by a gang of BFF girls but any boy who gets taken along with his other half will have a hard time not cracking up.