In a world where female characters are mostly used as love interests or underdeveloped secondaries to males, it’s truly refreshing that a film like Bridesmaids is defiant. Raunchy jokes and dialogue and crude humor drives it, but the women who are front and center are never highly sexualized, one-dimensional, or boring, which feels rare nowadays. And beneath the out-of-control wedding planning antics is a lively story of a person’s difficulties—not necessarily categorized as a woman’s—and how both her old and new friendships spin her out of line as well as heal her.
It’s even more refreshing that Bridesmaids is really just an excellent film all-around. Produced by comedy king Judd Apatow, this one is another golden nugget to add to the records. Directed by Paul Feig, Bridesmaids follows a lonely and struggling Midwestern woman named Annie (Kristen Wiig, who also wrote the script with Annie Mumolo). Annie lives with an eccentric British brother-and-sister duo, is forced to sell jewelry since her bakery closed down, and has a complicated “relationship” with her self-absorbed booty call Ted (Jon Hamm). When her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) gets engaged, Lillian naturally picks Annie as her maid of honor. However, Annie finds herself in an unspoken rivalry with the rich and perfect Helen (Rose Byrne), a bridesmaid who has developed a very close friendship with Lillian. The rest of the bridal party is as colorful as they come: There’s Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey), a sexy foul-mouthed mother of three boys and Becca (Ellie Kemper), an adorable and innocent redhead. And then there’s Megan (Melissa McCarthy), Lillian’s butch and tough soon-to-be sister-in-law. As the bridesmaids spend time together and plan bridal showers and bachelorette parties, Annie’s life unravels as friendships are tested, new ones emerge, and things come crashing down.
Bridesmaids is a flick that holds its own, but when comparing to other films of recent times, its qualities are most reminiscent to the high volume laugh-out-loud shock value of The Hangover (But a little far from the scale of what was contained in that movie) and on another level, the politics and personal drama of Mean Girls. However, unlike both of these films, there’s a genuineness and vulnerability to these characters, what they’ve gone through, and their relationships with each other. When Annie hits rock bottom, it’s powerful enough to put a hole in your heart, and the feelings the women grow to have towards one another—despite their differences—carries over into the audience to uplift. There’s also a sense of relating to them and possibly for married folks, the stress and anxiety of planning pre-nuptials and the actual ceremony, or simply getting married in itself.
The romantic storylines are a bit sloppy and not enough of the actual end product is shown, but showing the crazy journey in preparation for the event and in the coinciding life struggles is the film, and quite an excellent and dynamic one at that. While its humanity is noteworthy, Bridesmaids would not be labeled a comedy without the comedy, and the comedy it delivers is unladylike and outrageous, which makes it all the more delightful. Lightly goofy moments such as Annie and Lillian meeting the first time and vying for Lillian’s attention at the engagement dinner progress into more deservedly R-rated scenes, like when the women battle food poisoning while fitting into their bridesmaids dresses, or when a drunken Annie causes a commotion during a flight. Such sequences made my stomach hurt too—from laughing way hard.
Never mind the flowers, purple gowns, and the overall exquisiteness of weddings: While Bridesmaids is a film that showcases the real talents of funny women and allows females in film to shine in a new light, it’s not a chick flick. If it is, it’s a different kind of chick flick. However, it shouldn’t be labeled as such—the comedy and sentimental value it provides will be universal to all. Bridesmaids is an unforgettable and unbeatable race to the altar, because they’re one group that you’d want to stick with forever, for better or worse.