Thursday, October 18, 2012

Short Take: Bridesmaids

This review was originally published on Pol Culture.

In Bridesmaids, Saturday Night Live regular Kristen Wiig plays a single woman in her thirties who's down on her luck. Her business has failed, her love life is depressing, and she’s just scraping by financially. When her best friend (Maya Rudolph) gets engaged, she’s asked to be the maid of honor, and she tries to take on all the wedding planning. But everything she does goes comically wrong, and she finds herself in competition with the wife (Rose Byrne) of the groom’s boss. The wife isn’t shy about flaunting her wealth, and she seems determined to usurp the Wiig character’s place as the bride-to-be’s best friend. The film, directed by Paul Feig from a script credited to Annie Mumolo and Wiig, is too earnest and sentimental to be an entertaining farce. The film gets bogged down in the Wiig character’s self-esteem problems. It isn’t very well crafted, either. It's overlong, and many of the comedy setpieces continue and sputter a good while after they should have wrapped. (There are some badly misconceived scenes as well, most notably a gross-out slapstick sequence in a bridal boutique.) In general, the cast isn’t very inspired. Wiig’s role doesn’t give her much opportunity to play to her talents. On SNL, she’s demonstrated a genius for skewering fatuously self-absorbed personalities. In the film, she saddles herself with an everywoman part. She’s a sympathetic presence, but apart from her character’s drunken bad behavior on an airplane flight, there aren’t many laughs in the performance. Rose Byrne, who plays the role Wiig should have taken, doesn’t have a comedic bone in her body. Maya Rudolph isn’t given much to do, and as two members of the bridal party, Wendi McClendon-Covey and Ellie Kemper appear to have had their roles truncated. Only two performers stand out: Jon Hamm, who is hilariously smug as the Wiig character’s handsome, loutish bedmate, and Melissa McCarthy, in a delightfully wry turn as the groom’s overweight, over-assertive sister. They have the humor and timing the rest of the film is lacking.

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