‘Bridesmaids’ movie review: Kristen Wiig, Rose Byrne in a raunchy wedding riot

Ever since The 40 Year Old Virgin made waves, Judd Apatow has had almost unprecedented success among both critics and audiences; in addition to the movies he’s directed – Knocked Up, the underrated Funny People – he’s also taken a lot of credit for the well-received films he’s produced, like Superbad, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and Get Him to the Greek (lesser fare like Drillbit Taylor and Year One, meanwhile, are generally regarded as someone else’s problem).

Quality aside, all these films have one thing in common: they all focus on male characters and skew towards male audiences. If Apatow didn’t create it, he’s certainly responsible for the popularization of the ‘bromance’ subgenre.

But Apatow wasn’t always so male-focused; one of his first big successes (with critics, but not initial audiences) was the now-beloved TV show Freaks and Geeks, which put Linda Cardellini’s Lindsay Weir front-and-center.

In Bridesmaids, his latest producing effort, Apatow has teamed with Freaks and Geeks co-creator Paul Feig for an entirely female-centric take on his usual rowdy antics. The result? One of the best comedies of 2011, and a refreshingly realistic, non-puerile (in mentality, anyway, if not in humor), intelligent female-centered laughfest that leaves tripe like the Sex and the City films in the dust.

Bridesmaids stars Kristen Wiig as Annie, a 30-something woman stuck in a dead-end job after the failure of her cake-making business and in relationship hell (read: a casual thing with a mimbo played by Mad Men‘s Jon Hamm). When best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) announces that she’s getting married to beau Dougie (Tim and Eric‘s Tim Heidecker in a mostly nonverbal but plenty amusing cameo), Annie is initially ecstatic.

Of course, this eventually leads to some serious self-reflection, with Annie taking a long look at her current situation and a potential relationship with a police officer played by Chris O’Dowd (The IT Crowd). 

On top of that, as Lillian’s maid of honor, she finds herself helplessly attempting to coordinate the other bridesmaids, and in direct competition with Helen (Rose Byrne), Lillian’s “new” best friend, a event organizer extraordinaire with seemingly unlimited resources to throw Lillian the most over-the-top wedding imaginable.

Longtime Saturday Night Live veteran Wiig has struggled to find the right roles in feature films (see, or rather don’t, The Brothers Solomon), but has come across as enthusiastic and genuinely likable in supporting work in films like Adventureland and Whip It

Bridesmaids, which Wiig co-wrote with Annie Mumolo (who appears as the nervous woman next to Annie on the plane), really gives her the chance to showcase her talents, and earmarks her as one of the top female comedic talents out there.

Bridesmaids is really, really funny – it’s one of the very best Apatow productions to date. Every role is perfectly cast, from Matt Lucas and Rebel Wilson as Annie’s strange brother-and-sister roommates, to Jill Clayburgh as her mother (this was her final role), to a refreshingly atypical lineup of bridesmaids headed by Melissa McCarthy (Gilmore Girls). 

I’m not sure if male audiences will line up to see the mostly-female cast, or if female audiences will go for the expectedly crude humor (no, these girls are not immune to jokes involving bodily functions). But whoever does check out Bridesmaids is likely to be pleasantly surprised.


Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky has been writing about the Prague film scene and reviewing films in print and online media since 2005. A member of the Online Film Critics Society, you can also catch his musings on life in Prague at expats.cz and tips on mindfulness sourced from ancient principles at MaArtial.com.