Sunday, May 8, 2011

ADVANCE MOVIE REVIEW: Bridesmaids

BRIDESMAIDS-- 4 STARS

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There's a pair of simple questions to ask when it comes to R-rated Hollywood comedies:  Why do guys get to have all the fun and why can't girls have some too?  Save for a pair of atrocious Sex and the City romps, if you take the modern and the classic span of raunchy R-rated comedies, from 2009's The Hangover to 1982's Porky's and every Will Ferrell and Sean William Scott thing in between, it's the men who get to drink, party, get crazy, drool over the opposite sex, make bad choices, and bring their friends along for the fun.

Are men the only ones capable of all that scandalous fun?  Any reasonable college student, reformed (or are they?) college graduate, or Beyonce "single lady" knows that's not true.  Are women not capable of having a filthy mind and the initiative to pull off their own sophomoric behavior?  Hell no!  Have you ever crossed paths with a bachelorette party out on the town?  My fellow Chicagoans, just spend a Saturday night at Howl at the Moon on Hubbard or any bar on Division Street and you will be well educated.  Sure, us men might get drunk and go to a strip club, but some lady gangs can top that.  There's a level of detail, planning, and commitment (just as in life) that far exceeds that of men.  Just look for the penis-shaped props, extra puffy tulle, and listen for "Girls Gone Wild"-decibel-level yelling.

The new comedy Bridesmaids lets the girls get a shot at debauchery and toilet humor.  The results are hilarious, with a surprising touch of heart in a lot of places.  Every lady in America who has ever been a bride, a bridesmaid, or a maid of honor should see this movie.  You will either laugh at the moments that remind you of your own wedding party or laugh thankfully that none of these characters were anyone of you or someone your know. 

Saturday Night Live's Kristen Wiig, stars as Annie, a constantly down-on-her-luck 30-something.  She's single, but eeks out fake passion from being the booty call of a sportscar-driving douchebag (Mad Men's Jon Hamm, perfectly cast).  Her car is on it's last leg and she goes home to two terrible British import roommates in Milwaukee.  She's a failed entrepreneur baker who, after closing her start-up bake shop to the tough economic times, is very close to the pride-swallowing move of living back with her equally odd mother (the late two-time Academy Award nominee Jill Clayburgh, in her final role).

Her one constant pillar of support has always been her childhood friend, Lillian (former and fellow SNL vet Maya Rudolph).  Once inseparable childhood friends, Lillian's move to Chicago and Annie's tough times have put a little more distance than usual between them, but they are, nevertheless, always there for each other.  When Lillian gets engaged, she naturally asks Annie to be her maid of honor.

Annie's all set for fulfilling that role until she meets the rest of the bridesmaids.  Becca (The Office's Ellie Kemper) is a clueless, bubbly, and naive young newlywed who has only been with one man.  Rita (Reno 911!'s Wendi McLendon-Covey) is the long-suffering married mother of many who cannot wait to escape her home, even for a fleeting chance being a bridesmaid.  Megan (CBS's Mike & Molly title star Melissa McCarthy) is the unpredictable token bridesmaid, sister of the groom, brought in for the sake of cordiality.

Finally, there's Helen, played by Emmy-nominated Rose Byrne of Damages.  Helen is perfection in heels.  She's beautiful, rich, successful, and smart, everything our Annie is not.  Lillian and Helen, in a short time, have become close friends.  Helen even calls Lillian her best friend and it's that pending competition that fuels Annie, and the movie, to reach dizzying heights of one-up-man-ship and hilarious epic fails.  To share even the details of their set-ups would ruin the shock and laughs that follow. 

Bridesmaids is an absolute showcase for the female actresses involved.  Though most are reasonably-unknown TV stars, they all get their moments to play their assigned stereotype to perfection.  Rose Byrne gets away from TV drama to play a brunette Barbie villain-type well.  Melissa McCarthy nearly steals the movie in every scene she's in and with every line her crazy character utters.

However, the star is still Kristen Wiig.  For anyone who watches her on Saturday Night Live, you know that Wiig is Midas comedy gold to anything she touches and the best reason to watch the show.  She takes her sad-sack act to new heights here in Bridesmaids and even shows a little something deep and different with a cute relationship her Annie strikes up with a local Wisconsin state trooper (charming Irish import Chris O'Dowd).  If she's the reason you want to see the movie, you won't be disappointed.

Raunchy comedy like Bridesmaids isn't for everyone, and it still falls for a lot of Hollywood wedding movie cliches.  If you roll your eyes at sarcastic and sophomoric comedy that is richly peppered in profanity and toilet humor, this movie may be a turn off and you might find yourself settling for the cute romance provided by O'Dowd.  If you're OK with (or dare I say again, capable of) letting yourself indulge the fun of tapping into your inner crude self and wild side, while squashing your prim-and-proper disposition or feminist sensibilities, then you've found a winner with Bridesmaids.

Ladies, you're not fooling anyone.  We know your minds are just as crude as ours.  Now, put away the scrap-booking and candle parties, find that slutty top that still fits, load up the minivan, and get the "girls night" moving!

LESSON #1: THE ROLE OF A BRIDESMAID-- Ladies, bridesmaids are your "crew" and you need to choose that crew wisely.  Don't worry about reciprocity from another wedding, family obligation, individual photogenic qualities, or what style of dress looks good on which woman.  Surround yourself with supportive people, not fake friends or token choices.  Bridesmaids, your job is to help out and be there for the bride.  However, it's not your show, it's hers.  In fact, you're third fiddle to Lesson #2.

LESSON #2: THE ROLE OF A MAID OF HONOR-- Brides, the maid or matron of honor is meant to be the best of "besties" and the person who most supports you.  Again, choose wisely.  They shouldn't be an anchor to your needs and feelings.  They also shouldn't try to steal the spotlight from you, the bride.  Maids of honor, do as your told and plan with the bride's, not your, best interests in mind.  You shouldn't be trying to steal the show anymore than those third fiddles in Lesson #1.

LESSON #3: YOU ARE YOUR OWN PROBLEM AND YOUR OWN SOLUTION TOO-- It's amazing the logic found in seemingly crazy people.  Our favorite nutjob bridesmaid, Megan, dropped this very lesson as sound advice to our main character Annie, who's life, as you can tell from plot above, is perpetually swirling down a toilet bowl.  Megan was right.  People stand in their own way far too many times in seeking happiness and success.  Likewise, all the advice and support in the world, still hinges on your own actions to solve your own problems.  It starts and ends with just you, that person you see in the mirror.