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Bridesmaids, Film Review

A his and hers view of one of the summer's most hyped films

Written by . Published on July 6th 2011.

Bridesmaids, Film Review

The female view: Anne Smith

I’m not entirely sure how it happened, but 'Bridesmaids' and 'The Hangover II' appear to have been lumped together as boy/girl versions of the same story.

This has lead to some lazy comparisons which I think says a lot more about our own stereotypical expectations, not only regarding the behaviour of men and women, but also how this tends to be portrayed on film.

'Bridesmaids' is a world away from the rowdy, sexist slapstick of its hungover relation. Instead, the storyline follows the frustrating decline of Annie (Kristen Wiig) - a woman whose recession-hit business has failed, who is demeaned by her non-committal lover and who finds herself in her mid-thirties lost and lonely.

Her only anchor in life is childhood best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph), whose pre-wedding celebrations Annie has been tasked with preparing.

As the celebrations Annie plans are undermined by those of Lillian’s newer female friends, she spins out of control. Annie finds some comfort from police officer and serendipitous love-interest, Nathan (Chris O'Dowd from the I.T. Crowd), although she manages to sabotage the budding relationships.

Nathan's appearance follows the same bizarre casting as demonstrated during uncomfortable cameo performances from fellow Brits Matt Lucas and Rebel Wilson who play Annie's possibly incestuous landlords, adding little more than padding to the storyline.

As intelligent humour is balanced with carefully delivered pathos, we watch and wonder if Annie can recover control of her life. Along the way the movie touches on several themes affecting many modern women; step-parenting, sexuality, physical attractiveness (or not), marriage and career.

I’m a little disappointed that although these wider issues are given thought, the film’s resolution, and Annie’s ultimate happiness, lies in the arms of a man.

What women are given however, is permission to take back control, delivered excruciatingly via Wilson Phillips’ 'Hold On'. It’s girl power filtered through a Hollywood lens. “You've got no one to blame for your unhappiness, You got yourself into your own mess”. It’s almost refreshing to see.

The male view: Paul Clarke

All the hype around Bridesmaids suggested this was a stone cold classic that would be remembered as a groundbreaking female comedy. 

What I actually got was a pretty standard rom-com with a fat woman shitting in a hand basin.

This is a substandard attempt to repeat the breakout success of 'The Hangover', but with oestrogen and a scattering of mild belly laughs. It does prove that women really don’t do vomit and fart gags all that well though.

If you want a film about a middle-aged woman’s life disintegrating, and a subtle ripping apart of the bogus idea that all women are sisters then this works. But if you want a genuinely funny comedy with its own daft dynamic and genuine belly laughs then ignore this.

It has to be said, this film will make a huge star of the previously unknown Wiig who holds this flabby, overlong effort together. She pulls out a charming portrayal of a woman wrestling with self loathing as both a failed businesswoman and a rich man’s sex thing.

All the Bridesmaids put in a decent shift working with an occasionally amusing script that's not half as funny as it thinks it is. The sparring between Wiig and the devious rival matron of honour tell us lots about the underlying tension in an all female group.  But it's just not that funny.

Weirdly, Megan - the hand basin woman - seems to have wandered in from another film, as if they needed a Zach Galifianakis character - with borderline mental health issues.

The whole dynamic of the film is also sent off-kilter by the totally unbelievable relationship between a cop – a woeful Chris O’Dowd, way out of his depth – and Wiig.  She might be damaged but would she really go out with this drip?

I felt the sick coming up in the back of my throat when Wiig and the idiot plod go off into the sunset in what is one of the worst cop outs I’ve ever seen. 

In fairness the Bridesmaids are far more fun than Horseface Parker and her elderly mates - or the sheer horror of Bridget Jones - but I think I just expected far more from the hype.

Not a bad film but certainly not comedy gold, although there’s no doubt Bridesmaids 2 is already in production.  The really scary thing is that there are four bridesmaids so we could have another four side splitting sequels….god help us.

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