Laughter on the way to the altar
Like the Labradoodle, Bridesmaids is a hybrid engineered to appeal to a broad range of consumers.
In part, it is a wedding comedy of terrors seen from the perspective of the singleton maid of honor and written by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo. It is also an explosive gross-out comedy from the Judd Apatow gag shop.
Think of it as The 40-Year-Old Nonvirgin in taffeta. Or the Kristen Wiig movie that her fans have been waiting for.
For the girls, it is an observational friendship comedy that focuses on a significant but unremarked phenomenon: How for the bride the countdown to the altar is a process of breaking up with best friend and attaching to future husband, while for the best friend the process is a demotion from full partner to sidekick.
For the guys, it is arrested-development slapstick with an emphasis on casual sex, flatulence, and the trots.
Wiig is Annie, a cupcake of a baker whose shop went belly up. Her social life consists of "adult sleepovers" with a hilariously indifferent cad (Jon Hamm, funny in his arrogance).
During this unmoored period, Annie's life preserver is Lillian (Maya Rudolph), her best friend, the Shirley to her Laverne. (Yes, the film is set in Milwaukee.) When Lillian announces that she's engaged, Annie feels lonelier and needier than ever.
She defines herself as Lillian's best friend. So when Helen (Rose Byrne), the wife of the groom's boss, throws Lillian a lavish engagement party and presumes best-friend prerogatives, Annie correctly sees Helen as her competition for maid of honor.
Like many Apatow films, Bridesmaids has a rambling, disjointed quality, crammed with sequences that elicit laughs without advancing plot. With a planned Vegas debauch and farcical wedding-party lowjinks, much of the film plays as a distaff The Hangover. Many of the funniest sequences involve Chris O'Dowd as the only Irish state trooper in Wisconsin.
In the tradition of unstable redheads like Eve Arden and Lucille Ball, Wiig is unpredictable. Potty-mouthed, poignant, and droll, she makes this hybrid hum. I could have done without the gastrointestinal humor, which gives unintended meaning to the expression it's a gas. But I enjoyed the wiggy (or is it wiigy?) sensibility.