Comedies of the past few years have been heavy on boys being boys, but Bridesmaids gives the girls a turn to show off their comedic chops — and they're overachieving here. Though the title screams "wedding movie," it's more about female friendships and the strain that wedding planning can put on them.
Kristen Wiig plays Annie, a 30-something struggling with her career after losing her business and sleeping with a man who won't date her (Jon Hamm). Needless to say, Annie isn't exactly living the dream when her best friend Lil shows up with a ring on her finger, but she's truly happy for her friend. However, she realizes how much work being the maid of honor is going to be when she's pulled out of her element by the wide variety of women joining her in the wedding party: Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey), Becca (Ellie Kemper), Megan (Melissa McCarthy), and Helen (Rose Byrne). Once the group is assembled, the ladies embark on a series of rather unladylike adventures that make up two hours of nonstop laughs.
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There's a lot riding on Wiig, who's tackling her first leading role in a feature film. It's a bet that pays off: Wiig is mind-blowingly funny when Annie is at her most outrageous, and even when she's more subdued, her perfect delivery puts you in stitches. She's completely relatable as an everygirl who's just going through a rough patch.
Though Annie is at the epicenter, this is still an ensemble that generously lets each of its personalities shine. McLendon-Covey's one-liners are raunchy and succinct, McCarthy is confidently over-the-top and Kemper is awkwardly cute. Byrne plays into another kind of comedy, where an actor hits a character type that's so familiar it's scary. Her Helen is a stuck-up snob who looks down her nose at you while delivering backhanded compliments. It's a dead-on portrayal that proves her versatility for comedy (it's a far cry from her perfectly oversexed performance in Get Him to the Greek, but just as skillful). Her sparring with Annie makes for some cringe-inducing but funny scenes.
While the women are all the comedy the movie needs, the brief appearance by Hamm is genius. Most of his lines are pretty reprehensible, but he can make even the ickiest lines flat-out funny. The movie itself pulls off a similar feat; Bridesmaids straddles a line of raunchiness that it's guilty of going over a couple times, but you can't help laughing at even the most over-the-top scenes. To have all these women carrying a comedy is impressive enough, but sexual politics aside, the success rests on something more simple: the movie is hilarious from beginning to end.