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Thursday, May 19, 2011 10:39 pm

Bridesmaids deliver sweetness and sass

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Melissa McCarthy, Ellie Kemper, Rose Byrne, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids.

Written by its star, Kristin Wiig, Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids seems intent on one-upping similar male-centric comedies like The Hangover and Wedding Crashers in the area of gross-out humor. However, in highlighting these moments in the movie’s trailer and frontloading the film itself with them, it doesn’t speak to what makes it a success, namely its distinctive brand of sweetness.

Wiig stars as Annie, a woman with a streak of bad luck of biblical proportions. Her bakery’s gone under, her boyfriend’s dumped her and her car is a deathtrap. Adding insult to injury, her best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph), is getting married. She tries to be happy for her but Annie has to share this special occasion with a group of women she’s never met, each of them having baggage of the steamer trunk variety. Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey) is in a loveless marriage and she’s looking for the opportunity to let her freak flag fly, while Becca (Ellie Kemper) is a newlywed who suspects all is not right with her new union. Meanwhile, Megan’s (scene-stealer Melissa McCarthy) outsized personality makes her better suited for a truck stop than anywhere else, while Helen (Rose Byrne) is out to make Lillian her new best friend, purposely creating a rift between her and Annie.

The film is too long by 15 minutes and Rita and Becca are grossly underdeveloped, but there’s enough humor to excuse these oversights. A scene of comedic lovemaking, a nightmarish dress fitting undermined by food poisoning and a sequence in which a drunken Annie repeatedly tries to sneak into first class on a flight to Las Vegas are all hilarious highlights. However, the film’s trump card is the romance that develops between Annie and Nathan (Chris O’Dowd), an Irish cop stranded in Milwaukee. The two performers are on the same wavelength and their chemistry grounds the film, effectively counteracting the crassness that precedes it. In a sense, Bridesmaids is the perfect date movie as it delivers enough raunch and sweetness to satisfy everyone, which is all due to Wiig’s versatility and willingness to fall flat on her face.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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