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Women behaving badly

Lisa Miller

The innocuously titled “Bridesmaids” is a risky comedy that “bets the raunch” its female demographic will turn out to see their own depicted as weak, disloyal and vulgar. Cowritten by SNL player, Kristin Wiig, along with fellow Groundling comedian Annie Mumolo, Wiig anchors the film as Annie, a 30ish single woman whose professional and personal life is in disarray.

As the film opens, Annie engages in a sexual romp with Ted (John Hamm). It’s soon apparent she is little more than a booty call for this handsome womanizer. Following the failure of Annie’s cake bakery (blamed on the economic downturn), she is somewhat lost, but refuels her confidence by graphically demonstrating to Lillian (SNL cast member Maya Rudolph), her best friend, Ted’s unsuccessful efforts to make her perform a particular sex act. The exchange confirms that while she may be pathetic, Annie believes she has retained her dignity.

Laced with shambling, mildly amusing portraits and pictorial gags, this Judd Apatow-produced effort literally has its ladies squatting on the thin potty line. While Annie has been stuck in a downward spiral, she hasn’t noticed that Lillian is soaring high – thanks to a good job, and her ever-deepening romance with a corporate golden boy. Part of the love-package includes vacations with Lillian’s boyfriend’s boss and the boss’s lonely trophy wife Helen (a surprisingly effective Rose Byrne). By the time Lillian announces their engagement, Helen has become territorial and determined to unseat Annie as Lillian’s BFF.

The film makes satiric commentary regarding the current wedding craze with its overloaded cadre of accoutrements. Nevertheless, Annie is excited to serve as Lillian’s maid of honor. Efforts to perform her duties are sabotaged by jealousy, Annie’s financial hardship and general ineptitude, all posing a constant threat to the festivities. An experienced party-giver, Helen knows all the angles whereas Annie simply knows Lillian. While Lillian understands Annie’s effort to save money by taking the bridal battalion to lunch at a Brazilian dive, Lillian’s swept away to fantasy land when Helen jets the bride-to-be off to Paris where a custom designed gown is prepared – never mind that it looks like a white-on-white group quilting activity.

Annie’s clunker car turns out to be good for meeting a traffic cop (Chris O’Dowd) who takes a shine to her, but Annie’s perspective has gotten so skewed that she finds it difficult to recognize a bonafide nice guy dwelling within his uniform.

While “Bridesmaids” showers us with humorous situations, its characters, several of whom are well-drawn, constitute the more rewarding payoff. Wiig, who manages to be simultaneously destructive and sympathetic, could easily step into Tina Fey’s shoes as SNL’s latest golden girl, by pulling off a character who’s enjoyable to spend an evening with, even if we don’t respect her in the morning.


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