Bridesmaids (2011)

The classic Judd Apatow romantic comedy formula centres on a close friendship threatened by a romantic involvement, the question of growing up and moving on from one stable relationship to another. The homoerotic subtext of this (see also: every Simon Pegg and Nick Frost film ever made) has already been handled in 2009’s I Love You Man, so Bridesmaids is free to play off this formula without leaning on knowing winks and gay jokes. The combination of the Apatow ‘80s comedy redux’ sensibility and open-ended SNL/The Office skits results in one of the cleverest comedies to come out this year.

Annie (Kristen Wiig) can’t get her shit together, something that becomes readily apparent as she struggles to function as Matron of Honour to bestie Lillian (fellow SNL alum Maya Rudolph). Unhealthy relationships, a thwarted dream-business, and the threat of losing her best friend to some guy – Annie’s life is textbook romantic comedy, yet Wiig play the protagonist as both snarky and naive, unlikeable yet identifiable. The film’s best scenes stem directly from her performance, the classic neurotic who loses her train of thought, says the wrong thing and backtracks to a place far beyond the point. So much is revealed through slips of the tongue or avoided confessions that we get a tremendous sense of character in each scene, the desires and fears bubbling under the surface, that we can’t help but identify with Annie’s absurd crisis of communication.

Rounding out the cast is a range of strong women performers, whose backgrounds in TV comedy make them perfect for the slow-burning tone of Bridesmaids. The Office’s Ellie Kemper plays the naive foil to Reno 911’s Wendi McLendon-Covey as the insufferable newlywed Becca and cynical mother-of-three Rita respectively. Their energy alone makes for some of the most hilarious vignettes that sadly disappear as the film progresses. Mike and Molly’s Melissa McCarthy plays Megan, a foul-mouthed, ridiculously self-assured character who becomes instrumental in Annie’s third act resurrection. And Australia’s own Rose Byrne is delightfully villainous as Helen, the new-best-friend/ego-Ideal who stokes the fires of Annie’s insecurities.

Bridesmaids is a film of neat and not-so-neat doublings, right down to the two male love interests. Jon Hamm seems to relish playing the handsome douchebag in everything new he does, and in this film he’s almost a femme fatale in his ridiculousness. Officer Rhodes (Irish actor Chris O’Dowd) comes off a little wet or undeveloped by comparison, yet the romantic-comedy trajectory invariably makes him likeable and makes for a tidy, happy ending.

Again, the real strength of Bridesmaids is the way in which the standard rom-com formula serves as the foundation for a series of escalating set-pieces – like all classic comedies, it’s one to be remembered not for its narrative as a whole, but for all the memorable jokes and situations that crop up inside it. Though films of this nature necessarily drag in the third act, as the comedic despair gives way to resolution and reconstitution, Bridesmaids generates enough good will and laughs slow-burning and belly to carry itself from rendezvous to ring.



2 thoughts on “Bridesmaids (2011)

  1. So The Machinist is ‘crappy’, but Bridesmaids is a ‘clever’ movie. I’ve heard it all now.

    I stumbled upon this little ‘blog’ for the first time ever today and I just have to offer my own contribution to this gem of the blogosphere. Let me just tell you, with all sincerity, dude – you’re an asshole. Plain and simple. I’ve never come across anyone who personified the word more than whoever wrote this dreck. You’re not just ‘an asshole’, you’re the archetypal asshole. If the word ‘asshole’ did not exist one would still immediately say it upon reading your drivel.

    Nothing but pretentious, self-indulgent pseudo-intellectual rhetoric masquerading as deep, high-brow criticism by a one-good-man-syndrome suffering contrarian desperately and pathetically trying to endear himself to ‘feminists’. It would be sad if it wasn’t so laughable. (Just so you know, taking something ‘popular’ or highly regarded and giving it a scathing review whilst taking things ‘unpopular’ and explaining in pretentious pseudo-academic language why they are, in fact, brilliant does not = ‘intellectual’. It doesn’t make you look like some sophisticated specimen with a ‘higher brain’ and refined taste, it just makes you look like the phony you are).

    I’ve no doubt you’ll reply with something you think is a ‘witty’ retort to my ‘obvious trolling’. Go ahead. I won’t be reading it. One dose of the horse shit on this blog is enough for a lifetime.

    Keep blogging, hero! Change the world with your words! 😀


    1. Hey dude, thanks for reading! The old reviews are definitely full of jargon, much of which is unnecessary. I can see how that translates into “pretentious, self-indulgent pseudo-intellectual rhetoric masquerading as deep, high-brow criticism by a one-good-man-syndrome suffering contrarian” (sick burn!), though I don’t know how you’re getting to “desperately and pathetically trying to endear himself to ‘feminists’” (is it because I liked Bridesmaids when it came out? In the year 2011?). Please tell me how I can appear less phony to people who paraphrase David Foster Wallace while overusing scare quotes.


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