21 Jul

Director: Paul Feig (2011)

No matter how hard I have tried to fight their corner, women are upsettingly underrepresented in the comedy arena of the cinema. Even my most reverent diatribe usually results in my own realisation that funny women in films are usually more the subject of laughing at – with our oh-so-endearing eccentricities and overwhelming desire to sleep our way around until we manage to impregnate ourselves and entrap some unwitting lover into our web of neuroses – than the ones making people laugh coz we gots wits. But then we have the Saturday Night Live ladies. I am big fan and so when Bridesmaids surfaced boasting a cast featuring some of SNL’s veteran comediennes, written by my wishful best friend Kristen Wiig, there was no way I was going to lose the ‘women can’t be funny’ argument again. Helped along by Paul Freaks and Geeks Feig in the director’s seat and Judd Apatow producing, Bridesmaids was destined to be a happy marriage of talents. (I promise this is the only wedding based pun).

Annie (Kristen Wiig) is a failed bakery owner, living in a shit hole flat (with Matt Lucas and disconcertingly uncanny sister Rebel Wilson), spending her days working selling engagement rings and her evenings wasting her time on Ted (Jon Hamm). You’d be forgiven for thinking the latter might overthrow the former downsides but of course Ted is exactly the kind of person you do not want to be dating/shagging and so spending your days amidst the breathy joy of soon-to-be-weds is not really all that ideal. While it is tempting to say ‘Woman, you are boinking Don Draper, you can probably handle getting kicked out before breakfast?!’, he really is just a terrible person. But what Ted’s brief but nonetheless memorable moments in the film continue to prove is that perhaps Hamm should turn his back on the broody pensiveness of the Draper and do what he does best, and so clearly enjoys doing with his SNL buddies. See Exhibit A

It is impossible not to fall in love with Annie and as we do, it becomes all the more confusing as to how she has been dealt such a hand; dickish boyfriend, crappy job and now the arrival of an effortlessly beautiful rival for her best friends affections, Helen (Rose Byrne). Yet, rather than delving into ballad ridden montages of rainy windows and meals for one, Bridesmaids turns the usual template of best friend-getting-married movies on its head bringing us, quite possibly for the first time, a real story of what happens as best friends grow up. A ‘ho-mance’ if you will – to borrow my guy friends term after seeing the film.

So Annie’s best friend, Lillian (SNL buddy Maya Rudolph), has got herself a fiancé, a rich banker boy with whom she has also inherited the trophy wife of his boss, Helen – much to Annie’s distaste. Like The Hangover, we soon find ourselves in an odd-ball wolf pack situation with the bridal party with Annie at the helm as maid of honour. Our loveable reprobates include Lillian’s cousin and overworked mother of three, Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey), sweet idealist Becca (Ellie Kemper) and an almost aggressively sexually charged future sister-in-law, Megan (Melissa McCarthy).

While Bridesmaids does have the usual stalwarts of wedding comedies – hen-party, dress shopping, bridal showers – each is given its own unique reinterpretation, each resulting in absolute abject hilarity. While the now infamous gag of the aftermath of an ill-fated trip to a back-alley Brazillian restaurant before a bridal fitting – featuring the immortal line “I just need to get off this white carpet” – truly proves women’s bowels and projectile regurgitations can be just as funny as men’s, it somehow avoids the gross, crudeness that male toilet humour often incites. If one was to shit themselves in a bridal shop – this is how it would go down. Though hopefully this is not something I will live to see proven either way… But some of the most rib-achingly painful laughs come in the most simple of circumstances – see Annie’s ‘friends’ at the engagement party , on paper, perhaps a prolonged titter, in reality – me grasping the chair arm to avoid falling into the aisle.

A surprising casting but nonetheless amazing one comes in the home-grown shape of Chris O’Dowd as Officer Nathan, Annie’s anti-Ted, and the inevitable love interest. Their chemistry is just hilarious with O’Dowd bringing the cynical British geek stylings we loved in The IT Crowd to meet Wiig’s unashamed goonishness. Finally – our heroine has met her match. Without the need for a shrill female singer-songwriter to make us realise she’s found ‘him’. Wiig truly is the star – bringing humour but also tenderness to all her relationships whether it be prompting our sympathy (after the jealously has subsided) with Ted, pangs of new love with Nathan or the ultimate realisation that maybe the real soulmates are closer than we think with best friend, Lillian.

Apatow’s classic Superbad (yes I know it was only 2007 but I am pre-emptively categorising it as a classic), granted us insight into two buy friends trying to get their end away before swooping it round and making us realise it was actually a film about what happens when childhood friends grow up and have to deal with the imminent separation of adulthood. In Bridesmaids, Apatow has found his XX-version, except it isn’t really Apatow’s creation, it’s Wiig’s. And if Wiig can hold on to the pen – and stay on our screens – perhaps finally the world can see that yes, women are just as crazy – and vile – as men. And with Wiig involved, I’d be inclined to say even crazier: see Exhibit B.


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