Bridesmaids (2011) – By Duane L. Martin

Bridesmaids has been hailed as one of the best comedies of 2011, and truth be told, it is a very funny film. It’s also been, unfairly I think, compared to The Hangover, which was supposed to be one of the funniest movies ever, even though I personally found very little humor in it at all and was completely baffled as to why anyone would think it was so hilarious. But this review isn’t about The Hangover, it’s about Bridesmaids, which in my opinion is so far beyond superior to The Hangover in every conceivable way that it’s like it’s in a different universe.

Bridesmaids was co-written by its star, Kristen Wiig who plays Annie, along with Annie Mumolo, who herself plays a small role as a nervous woman on a plane. It was produced by Judd Apatow. Don’t know the name? Well, he’s responsible for such films as Superbad, Knocked Up, The 40 Year Old Virgin, The Cable Guy, and any number of other really lame films. They even seem proud of the fact that he produced those films, as they announce it on the back of the box in the first paragraph of the description. I’m not sure that’s something I’d really want to advertise. That’s like those movies that came out "From the producer of Big Daddy". When I saw the film’s name mentioned in relation to other films, it made me not want to see them at all. The sad thing is, the same guy produced a lot of Sandler’s other films that were really good. Why focus on one as crappy as Big Daddy? I guess I’m getting off track here. Let’s get back to Bridesmaids.

Lillian (Maya Rudolph) has been Annie’s (Kristen Wiig) best friend since they were kids. Now they’re all grown up, and even though they’re still best friends, the distance between their lifestyles has grown considerably. Lillian in love with a great guy and marrying into money, while Annie is relegated to being a sex buddy to a total douche bag and working at a job in a jewelry store that she hates because she has to serve happy couples all day long, which makes her even more miserable. Add to that the fact that her incredibly annoying roommate Gil (Matt Lucas) has brought his equally annoying sister over illegally from the UK to live with them in their apartment, and you have one miserable girl who’s stuck in the position of having to be the maid of honor for her best friend, whose life seems to all be going just perfect. Oh, and let’s not forget Helen (Rose Byrne), Lillian’s other friend who just happens to be rich, and who from day one has been trying to screw over Annie at every turn, making everything she does look bad, and out doing everything she tries to do for Lillian by throwing a ton of money at it.

Then there’s the other bridesmaids. Wendi McLendon-Covey of Reno 9-1-1 fame plays Rita, the jaded, middle-aged mother who just really needs to let loose with this whole bridesmaid thing because it’s a temporary escape for her from the tedium that is her normal, every day life. Then we have the super meek Becca played by Ellie Kemper. She’s like a little mouse you just want to cuddle. Then there’s Megan (Melissa McCarthy). She’s a big girl who tells it like it is and is actually responsible for a few of the best comedic moments in the film.

Will Annie and Lillian’s friendship be able to survive the wedding? Will Annie find love with the Irish-American cop (Chris O’Dowd) who pulled her over rather than having to live her life as a sex buddy for some douche bag who doesn’t love her, or even really care about her? The biggest question of all is, will any of them survive the wedding? You’ll have to watch the film to find out.

Bridesmaids is a genuinely funny film. This release includes both the rated and unrated versions of the film. The rated version was rated R anyway, so I’m not sure why they’d cut out some of the best stuff for the theatrical release, only to include it in the unrated version of the home video release. That makes very little sense to me. One scene in particular where they all had food poisoning was absolutely hilarious, but I hear tell that in the theatrical version, the scene was cut down considerably. My advice would be to not bother with the theatrical version at all.

There are two aspects of this film that make it really work. First, the situations that keep popping up one after the other are all really very funny, and second, the performances. The cast in this film was excellent, with one bit of an exception that I’ll talk about in a minute. They pulled off the comedy expertly, while at the same time being people that you could actually care about and pull for. Annie’s life in particular was just a mess, and you really spend the whole film sort of pulling for her to emerge out the other side in a place where she’s finally just ok for once.

The one exception in the cast I wanted to mention is Maya Rudolph. I personally would have cast someone else in that role. I just don’t personally find her all that funny, nor believable in the role. Not that she did a bad job with her performance really, but when you cast a film, you have to really feel the characters as they’re written and find someone who really suits that character to play the role. They did that for every other character in this film, with her being the one exception. That’s not to say I don’t like her in anything. I’ve seen her in other things I thought she was great in. I just don’t think she was right for this particular role in this film. If I had been doing the casting, I would have cast her as one of the bridesmaids rather than the bride. I think she could have pulled off the comedy that was going on with them far better than anything she was doing in her role as Lillian, and been more believable at it. Regardless, in general, the casting in this film is great, the story is great, the comedy works and all in all it’s just a very funny film that has a great re-watchability that will make you want to have it in your collection.

I do have one big complaint about this release. I was sent the DVD version (even though I had requested the blu-ray). The DVD version, like the blu-ray version, has both the rated and unrated versions of the film along with some special features. Unfortunately, the single-disc DVD release doesn’t include all the special features that are on the blu-ray release. This film deserved a 2-disc release with the film on disc 1 and all the special features on disc 2. This was a real drop of the ball in my opinion, especially since blu-ray still only has a limited percentage of the market. Still, regardless of the format, this is a film you’ll want to own and one that can be enjoyed by both men and women. This isn’t just a chick flick. Guys will absolutely love this film as well. I know I sure did.

If you’d like to pick up a copy of this movie for your collection, you can grab it from Amazon on DVD or blu-ray, or at any of the other usual outlets.