- Released: Wednesday, 15 June 2011
- Runtime: 125 mins.
Universal Pictures International. 16 June 2011.
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ellie Kemper, Melissa McCarthy, and Chris O'Dowd.
Directed by Paul Feig.
Rated MA 15+ Restricted. (Strong coarse language, sexual references and a sex scene). 125 min. IMDb.
This is a comedy about the experiences of Lillian (Maya Rudolph), who asks five of her friends to be bridesmaids at her wedding. They are a motley lot. Annie (Kristen Wiig) has a life that is spiralling out of control, and she is given the task of organizing the wedding as Lillian's Maid of Honour. Helen (Rose Byrne) is Lillian's new friend, who is a rival to Annie, and has a special talent to take over from others with her fake niceness. Becca (Ellie Kemper) insecurely pities Annie because she is unmarried and trapped in a destructive relationship with a man, who treats her only as a sex object. Megan (Melissa McCarthy) is the groom's aggressive sister, who is macho-aggressive, and has no tact. Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey) is desperately unhappy in her current marriage, and uses the group to escape from her male dominated life. Strains appear in the group as the wedding approaches, and the situation is ripe for comedy, but also human pathos. The group take Lillian on a wild ride to the altar, and give vent to its collective hang-ups, at Lillian's expense.
This is a bawdy comedy where the women behave poorly. Helen becomes jealous that Annie has been selected by Lillian to organise the wedding, and she competes with Annie in games of spite, using snobbery to win. Annie's life is unravelling fast enough that Helen eventually gets her come-back, and learns her lesson. Annie is the problem as well as the solution, and comes to know her real self through a likeable Policeman (Chris O'Dowd), who reaches out to her and connects.
The group tackles a Brazilian restaurant, air-line travel on an aborted trip to Las Vegas, and a bridal salon, all with calamitous results. The result of the mayhem is good comedy, and the ensemble works to inject laughter into whatever it does, and mostly wherever it goes. This movie is directed by a male, but is written and co-produced by women, and has a cast almost entirely made up of women. The routines are hard-edged, the bridesmaids are awful to each other at almost every available opportunity, and the film has sharp scripting to back their antics up. A lot of the scripting is anti-male, but being male is fair game. There is pathos, fun, conviviality and nastiness in their behaviour, as the group decides to look after Lillian at any cost.
In the film, Kristen Wiig emerges as a special talent. As Annie, she shows excellent comic timing, and executes her routines with great naturalness and wit. However, viewers beware that the film is very crude. Its language is rough, the women are frequently engaged in behaviour unfitting for most people, and any moral principles underlying what marriage is supposed to be about, are thrown to the winds by a group that doesn't seem to care. To some extent, this film is a female version of Todd Phillips' "The Hangover" (2009) which sold poor behaviour among groomsmen in order to entertain.
The danger of a movie such as this is that the personalities depicted on the screen can easily become caricatured, but in this movie human drama does goes hand in hand with comic opportunity. As much a movie about people reaching out to each other and missing, as it is a comedy that aims to arouse laughter, the ensemble cast proves itself capable of finally behaving well.
This is a dramatic comedy that engages the viewer, despite its toughness, but the movie takes you a long way in searching for its fun in crudity. This means that dignity is frequently sacrificed to comic effect.
The film entertains, but it is sad to see a group of talented comediennes succeeding so well at doing what the other gender unfortunately does when bonding goes wrong.