Bridesmaids

Catfights, air rage and one-night stands – who'd be a bridesmaid?

Bridesmaids gave me nightmares. My own wedding is just months away and there's a lot left to do. So my subconscious self decided to fast-forward me to the big day, where I discovered I had forgotten to write a speech and my expectant bride was more bristling than blushing to my left.

The guests, a sea of expectant faces spread out in every direction, started to turn red with collective embarrassment on my behalf. Then, strangest of all, the model Daisy Lowe inexplicably accosted me with a vicious stream of expletives before two burly bouncers ejected me from my own post-nuptials party.

There is that same feeling of desperation and impending doom running throughout Bridesmaids. From the beginning, it’s clear that Annie (Kristen Wiig, who also co-wrote the script) will not a good maid of honour make. Her life is a mess, and it's about to get messier.

Annie is 'the genius who opened a bakery during the recession'. She's in her 40s and £40k in debt; she recently split up with her boyfriend, is sleeping with uber-chauvinist, Ted (Jon Hamm), and hates her new job working in a jewellery store. (Her understandably pessimistic views on eternity rings and friendship bracelets result in some of the funniest scenes of the movie.)

In short, life can't get much worse for Annie. Then her lifelong best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph) gets engaged, and when Annie is usurped by Lillian’s new friend, the holier-than-thou Helen (Rose Byrne), the stage is set for Annie’s frantic fall from grace.

Bridesmaids has, perhaps inevitably, been described as The Hangover with girls, for girls. In a way it is. It’s much darker than your average rom-com, the gutter humour will not be to everyone's taste, and there are several outrageous scenes wherein the girls’ behaviour rivals anything that went on in Vegas (the girls don’t make it there, despite their best efforts).

Unlike The Hangover, however, Bridesmaids is – believe it or not – an issues film. It’s got gags, but it’s also got guts. It is unexpectedly (uncomfortably) realist. Class, bad parenting, commitment phobia and ambition are just some of the themes explored, and Annie's pathetic plight is all too believable.

'Why can't you be happy for me and then go home and talk about me behind my back like a normal person?' asks Lillian after Annie trashes the wedding shower. Ouch.

There's no doubt that Wiig and co-writer Annie Mumolo (who also appears as a neurotic airplane passenger) wrote Bridesmaids to be as close to the bone as possible.

The characters may be clichéd, the set pieces predictable and, occasionally, too drawn out (as when the girls board a flight for Vegas and the scotch hits the fan), but wedding blogs the world over are filled with such clichéd characters and scenarios. They are all quite real. (No screaming super models, perhaps, but plenty of drunken brawls and toiletry mishaps in dress shops.)

As for the cast, Mike and Molly's Melissa McCarthy is Bridesmaids' Alan figure, providing most of the laughs, and it's great to see Irish actor Chris O'Dowd's star continue to rise (following his spellbinding performance in the BBC's recent adaptation of The Crimson Petal and the White, it's Hollywood time for the former IT Crowd actor). He steps into the love interest role with surprising ease.

But the real star of this show is Kirsten Wiig. Of course she wrote skits to die for on Saturday Night Live, and stole scenes aplenty in films like Paul and Knocked Up. But now she's graduated to leading lady, and will surely provide Tiny Fey with some competition for The World's Greatest Female Comedy Writer in the years to come, if Bridesmaids is anything to go by.

Bridesmaids is on general release now.

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