Director: Paul Feig
Cast: Kristen Wiig, Rose Byrne, Maya Rudolph, Chris O’Dowd, Melissa McCarthy, Jon Hamm
Synopsis: Annie (Wiig) is the unlucky in love type who also has a history of a failed business, and things generally not going well. Her best friend Lillian (Rudolph) gets engaged and asks Annie to be the Maid of Honour. This immediately puts her at odds with fellow bridesmaid Helen (Byrne), a new, more well off friend of Lillian’s, who clearly wants the top job.
This film has had a lot of good press. Largely, this has a lot to do with it breaking the mould, being a gross out comedy (produced by gross-out comedy king Judd Apatow) that is female centric. When the film operates as a gross out comedy, it is really quite brilliant. Unlikable characters however, are inexcusable in a film of any description, and this film provides enough to destroy the good work that this film achieves elsewhere.
The fault predominantly lies with Byrne’s Helen. Byrne has had some success of late, and her performance is not at all what is to blame here. The character is so controlling and domineering, that it is just sheer frustrating rather than funny. She becomes a caricature of all the worst stereotypes of a bad bridesmaid hiding under the veneer of the organising helpful type. The film is so successful at making her unlikable, that by her inevitable redemption stage, I kind of just did not care anymore.
One annoying character is bad enough, but our protagonist Annie is also herself a frustrating character. It is cringe-worthy watching a person so adept at making all the wrong choices. Wiig makes her sympathetic, but when she yet again turns on the nice guy that will treat her right for a guy who considered her his number three, I am sure I tore a bald patch out from my head. This leads me to some elements that are brilliant about the film. Chris O’Dowd transplants his Roy from the IT crowd into this film, playing sweet, quirky and loveable type, and would be partner to Annie. He is just a nice guy, and the film benefits from his presence. The other really likeable character is McCarthy’s Megan. It is from this source that many of the biggest laughs come.
I have griped on character quite a bit here, perhaps because my lasting impressions of the film came from this. Not so much from the comedy. Some of the comic set-pieces work really well. Watch out for the reactions to food poisoning when bridesmaid dress shopping is occurring. These are not regular enough though, so it is a film that lacks the pacing of similar male centric gross-outs. In the end, this is sold as a comedy, so it could have spent less time on the more frustrating dramatic elements, which did not even induce character sympathy.
It is a good way to pass a Saturday night. Just don’t let previous good press get your hopes up too high.
3 stars out of 5