It seems bizarre that, even now, it can come as a surprise to some people when women are actually, you know, quite funny? Still, raising the bar in terms of this year’s cinematic comedy is the almost-all-female cast of Bridesmaids, headed up by the funniest of them all, Kristen Wiig.
Wiig does well to paint herself as an ‘everywomen’ – and not in the Sex and the City “shopping and cosmos” sense either. Her character, Annie, might not stand out from any other wedding-film-femme on paper: her cake business has gone bust and she’s caught in a relationship rut with a non-committal man, played like a true sleazeball by Mad Men‘s Jon Hamm.
But, thankfully, this film isn’t about cake, or men, or even really about weddings – hurrah! It is about the mish-mash of people that tend to be thrown together during life’s milestones, and the unlikely friendships which can (and often do) come out of such events.
Having said this, Bridesmaids isn’t one for girly clichés. There’s barely any sign of the groom, and certainly no Mr. Big – instead we’re given lovable IT Crowd-er Chris O’Dowd as an adorably awkward cop. Maya Rudolph plays the bride to be, and old friend Annie meets her nemesis in new friend Helen (played by Rose Byrne) as the pair vie for ‘best friend’ status. Other bridesmaids include the severely un-girlie and often uncomfortably crude, Megan, played by Melissa McCarthy, whilst sickeningly sweet newlywed Becca (Ellie Kemper) is cleverly pitched against the unhappily-married-with-kids, Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey).
Bridesmaids generates much of its humour from stripping back the glossy charade of wedding magazines and glamorous engagement parties, and the peachy Hollywood representation of life in general that we’re so often subjected to on the big screen. The seemingly-perfect ‘new friend’ Helen is forced to grin and bear it as her stepsons make no attempt to disguise their hatred of her, while ‘old friend’ Annie is stuck living with super-weird siblings, played by deadpan pair, Matt Lucas (yes, him of Little Britain fame) and Rebel Wilson. It’s a relief to find that this script, which is co-written by Annie Mumolo and Wiig, combines comic reality with a touch of sympathy, but manages to go easy on the sentimental side of things.
Wiig might be better known in the US for her role on Saturday Night Live, but Bridesmaids is likely to place her in a good position to steal the crown from current comedy queen, Tina Fey, in the eyes of UK audiences at least. If you’ve been left feeling somewhat disillusioned by the rehashed, laddish humour which has masquerading as good film comedy of late (I’m looking at you, The Hangover Part II), then Bridesmaids is likely restore your faith in the laugh-out-loud genre.
Sure, the theatrical posters might feature a bunch of glammed up women in shiny pink dresses, but don’t be fooled. Produced by Apatow Productions, the people behind hit comedies such as Superbad and Knocked Up, this film is far from conventional chick flick material. There’s a lot more to Bridesmaids than meets the eye, and it’s not just one for the girls. Indeed, for any men currently trying to undo the damage done by Bradley Cooper & co., it’s one which I would certainly recommend.
Bridesmaids is released in the UK on 22nd June 2011.