Let Down at the Altar: Bridesmaids Movie Review

Bridesmaids is a movie I liked more as a concept than as the finished product.  Originally, I was excited about the film, mainly because I have noticed a disconcerting trend in Hollywood: women aren’t allowed to be the funny ones.  In so many comedies, women are given the straight and boring roles while men are allowed to be the crude, raunchy, or wise-cracking ones.  I would say this strain has ran through Hollywood from the 50s to the present (in the 30s and 40s, women were allowed to play funnier leading parts, such as the careers of Mae West and Carole Lombard).  I remember being nonplussed by Jenna Fischer’s performance in Hall Pass, not because of her acting, which was fine, but because the Ferrelly Brothers didn’t write many funny scenes for her, and she’s proven she can be funny in The Office as well as Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.  Anyways, I was initially excited by Bridesmaids because I thought it would allow a large cast of actresses to be funny for two hours or so.

The cast is pretty impressive.  The only well-known male star is Jon Hamm, and he isn’t in it all that much, although the scenes with him are pretty funny, as he goes out of his way to undermine the nice-guy image he has.  Here, he’s basically the prototype of the chauvinist.  It boasts a good solid cast of actresses, such as Maya Rudolph (SNL and the likeable sleeper hit Away We Go), Rose Byrne (X-Men: First Class) who I think is among the most talented actresses currently working in the business, Ellie Kemper (Erin on The Office), Wendy Mclendon-Covey (from the hilarious show Reno 911) and Melissa McCarthy, whom I don’t recognise from other movies but found pretty funny here.

The plot is a bit reminiscent of The Hangover (but then, just about all comedies are like that now).  This time it’s from the women’s point of view, showing how they get their kicks before tying the knot.  Basically, all of these women who previously didn’t know each other well have to get together to help plan the wedding of their mutual friend.

So far so good.  Here’s the BIG PROBLEM: most of the cast is hardly used!  Instead, much of the film focuses on Kristen Wiig and a pretty boring relationship conflict she has with a police officer.  At first, it seems the story about her and the officer is going to be a minor subplot, but then it takes over the movie.  The whole bridesmaids concept is what becomes the subplot, and many of the above mentioned fantastic actresses are hardly seen.

I should probably also mention that Kristen Wiig isn’t an actress I’m particularly fond of.  I’ve been watching just about every SNL for the past few years, and I’ll admit, I’ll often fast-forward when it gets to her skits.  I’m trying to be as objective as possible here, but I don’t think Kristen Wiig carried the movie well, and I don’t think she should have tried to.  Instead, the movie should have featured all of the characters interacting.  When the women were all in a room together, it was very funny, but when it turned into a sappy romance about Wiig’s character exclusively, I lost interest.

In the end, I won’t say Bridesmaids was a bad film.  There were plenty of funny moments, and I commend it for putting women in the limelight.  I just wished they would have shared the stage.

read other movie reviews.

read an essay I wrote about the comedy genre.

If you liked Bridesmaids, you might like Cedar Rapids.

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