The 35-Year-Old Bridesmaid

Bridesmaids, written by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, directed by Paul Feig, starring Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Jill Clayburgh, Chris O’Dowd, Jon Hamm, Ellie Kember, and Melissa McCarthy (2011): A very funny movie from the new distaff side of the Judd Apatow stable, this one could easily have been titled The 35-Year-Old Bridesmaid. Kristen Wiig, who co-wrote and stars, continues her evolution from occasionally annoying sketch comic to fully realized comic actress that began in this year’s Paul. She’s a passive-aggressive delight.

House of Apatow movies, when they work, work a lot like Animal House. Seriously. You’ve got comic bits shooting off everywhere, your actors are all solid, there are occasional nods to characterization and plot, and somewhere running through the movie is Bluto Blutarsky. Here, Bluto is Melissa McCarthy’s character, a profane force-of-nature. She gets shackled with the movie’s one major comic misstep (it involves puppies being cute), but also gets most of the good physical comedy.

The plot is pretty much what you’d expect from the advertising; the execution is terrific. Bridesmaids also manages to engage problems that can arise in friendships when income disparity occurs, but it does so pretty lightly. There’s a great gross-out scene, a great scene on an airplane, a battle between Wiig and a giant cookie, two grotesque British roommates for Wiig, and some nice, comfortable exchanges between Wiig and Maya Rudolph, two long-time SNL chorts who work well together.

Jon Hamm, doing a more malign version of his Handsome Idiot character from 30 Rock, has a completely ridiculous scene trying to show his sensitivity by kneading Wiig’s breasts like a clumsy pizza maker. All in all, a delightful romp. Fair is fair — the male characters are pretty much as little-defined here as the female characters are in the male-dominated Apatow comedies. Highly recommended.

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