“You’re like the maid of dishonor.”
Bridesmaids, from director Paul Feig, producer Judd Apatow and based on a script by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, became the highest grossing R-rated female comedy of all time, edging out Sex and the City. Although coined by many as the female version of The Hangover, and there are certainly similarities, this does the movie a certain injustice. Where The Hangover is funny in a mean-spirited, rude-boy way, Bridesmaids taps into Apatow’s gift for producing comedies with human characters we care about and balancing the comedy with a touch of pathos without crossing into dramedy territory. Both movies are structured around an upcoming wedding and deal with sex and body functions in a frank and explicit way, but that’s where the similarities end.
Bridesmaids mines the themes of friendship and redemption. Annie (Kristen Wiig) is a thirty-something single woman whose life is on a downward spiral. Her bakery went out of business due to the recession. She boards with creepy brother and sister roommates (Mat Lucas and Rebel Wilson) with boundary issues and is in a self-destructive, booty call relationship with Ted (an uncredited Jon Hamm) a chauvinistic douchebag who thrives on her degradation. Her spirits are crushed, but she is bravely holding her chin up through each new humiliation.
In direct contrast, Lillian (Maya Rudolph), Annie’s best friend, is experiencing a new renaissance of happiness in her life. Lillian announces her engagement to her true love and asks Annie to be her maid of honor. Unlike a best man, where all you really have to do is hold a bachelor party and give a wedding toast, the maid of honor is responsible for planning luncheons, fittings, the bachelorette party, and the bridal shower. Annie can barely keep her own shit together, so she is quickly overwhelmed by the responsibilities.
To make matters worse, the bridal party consists of five women with nothing else in common except the bride. Each woman represents a female archetype: Annie, the neurotic best friend, Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey), the bedraggled soccer mom, Becca (Ellie Kemper), the naive newlywed, Megan (Melissa McCarthy), the large-and-in-charge future sister-in-law, and Helen (Rose Byrne), the wealthy, gorgeous, and oh-so-perfect friend.
The entire cast is amazing. Sadly, this was the final film of the great Jill Clayburgh, who plays Annie’s mom. Melissa McCarthy steals every scene she’s in with a laugh-out-loud performance that just keeps getting better as movie goes on. McCarthy told an interviewer for “GQ” Magazine that she based the look and characterization of Megan in part on Guy Fieri, the (male) host of the show “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.” Her scenes with real life husband, Ben Falcone, as Air Marshal Jon are especially sharp.
Helen serves as Annie’s main antagonist, sabotaging any and all of Annie’s efforts in an apparent attempt to replace her as Lillian’s best friend. Things totally go from bad to worse for Annie. Normally comedy of despair (although it never quite becomes that) is not my cup of tea, but Kristen Wiig gives Annie such heart you can’t help but root for her even while laughing at her misadventures. She has such chemistry with (real life friend and fellow SNL alumni) Maya Rudolph that you easily believe and worry for their friendship.
Then, when you most expect it, the romcom element comes into play. What is unexpected is how refreshing and real the relationship plays. Annie gets pulled over for erratic driving and meets Officer Nathan Rhodes (Chris O’Dowd) who’s the polar opposite of douchebag Ted. Unfortunately Annie can’t get out of her own way enough to see Officer Rhodes as her perfect mate even though he couldn’t be more obviously the right choice.
There was one point when the girls fly off to Vegas that I was sure we were going to rip off The Hangover. This was another case of our expectations being set up and skillfully misdirected, which happens throughout the film. The biggest laughs come during an infamous scene where the ladies visit an impossibly pretentious bridal salon after a lunch at Annie’s favorite Brazilian Steak House, a bout of food poisoning proves beyond a doubt that women can do gross-out humor as well as any man. Melissa McCarthy elevates that scene until I was crying from laughing.
Bridesmaids‘s AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.40:1 runs an average 30Mbps on a BD-50 Blu-ray disc with bright sharp colors, stable blacks, and natural flesh tones. There is slight ghosting around trees and the blacks were a bit crushed in a couple nighttime scenes, but for the most part this is a brilliant transfer with a wealth of fine detail (Maya Rudolph’s real life pregnancy complexion may prove a little too much detail) and lush color saturations.
Bridesmaids‘ lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix strikes a near-perfect chord with immersive surround, robust music and bass, and balanced and sharp dialog. Although focused front and center on the actors’ lines, there are some excellent panning tricks and ambient environmental effects in the soundfield. The SFX/Soundtrack to dialog ratio is perfectly balanced to the point where even quiet whispers are crisp and clear.
The Blu-ray features an audio commentary track with director Paul Feig, co-writer Annie Mumolo, and actors Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey, and Ellie Kemper. This is a must-listen commentary, energetic and unruly with great stories, very, very funny anecdotes. The commentary is as funny if not funnier than the movie itself.
This Blu-ray is so chocked full of special features it took me forever to get through them, but they were so much fun it was worth every minute. The Bonus Materials are presented in Hi-Def (HD)) video quality with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound.
- Line-O-Rama (HD, 12 min) — Broken into two parts, this presents some of the funniest improvised lines from the movie.
- Cholodecki’s Commercial (HD, 1 min) —Cheesy amateur commercial advertising the jewelry store where Annie worked.
- Extended & Alternate Scenes (HD, 9 min) — Fifteen sequences. All of these were well worth watching. Plenty more of the creepy roommates.
- Gag Reels (HD, 4 min/HD, 6 min) — Not one, but two reels of bloopers and flubs.
- Deleted Scenes (HD, 8 min) — Seven deleted segments, and the best is a date with Paul Rudd (“Blind Date with Dave”, “Bonjour”, “Last Chance”, “Shrimp Fork,” “Different Friends,” “Shit Show” and “Big Things”).
- Made of Honor: Behind the Scenes of Bridesmaids (HD, 32 min) — Above-average EPK featurette. A great deal of focus on the depth of rehearsals and the rampant improv.
- Blind Date (HD, 2 min) —”Dave-O-Rama!” Paul Rudd yelling obscenities.
- Roommates (HD, 17 min) —More deleted & extended scenes with the creepy sibling roommates and a disturbing commercial for Oo-laka Juice.
- Cholodecki’s (HD, 21 min) — An even longer collection of deleted and alternate takes, including yet another TV commercial, featuring Annie’s jewelry store boss.
- Drunk-O-Rama (HD, 4 min) — Alternate takes of Kristen Wiig drunk on the jet.
- Pep Talk (HD, 3 min) — Snarky improv on during the tennis match.
- Annie vs. Helen (HD, 7 min) — Highlighting the rivalry between them.
- Hold On (HD, 5 min) — An extended cut of the movie’s wedding sequence serving as a contemporary music video for Wilson Phillips.
Bridesmaids ushers in a new era of comedy, proving once and for all that women could be funny, mass audiences would flock to movies with funny women and that gross-out R-rated comedies are not just a boy’s club domain. Hysterical, insightful, honest, and brilliant, Bridesmaids is easily the best comedy so far this year.
“You’re really doing it, aren’t ya? You’re shitting in the street!”