With Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Jon Hamm. Directed by Paul Feig. Rated R for some strong sexuality, and language throughout. 120 minutes.
There are times when the job of film critic is to help people find movies they will enjoy or avoid movies they will not. The job is not one of imposing one’s opinion on others but giving people the benefit of the fact that the critic has seen the film in question and can advise accordingly. However, there are movies that are critic’s darlings where, as Samuel Goldwyn put it, the public stays away in droves. And then there are movies like BRIDESMAIDS that will probably be one of the big summer hits and actually garner some favorable reviews. It won’t change the fact that this is one of the most moronic, ineptly made and oft-times revolting movies to be released this year.
Lillian (Maya Rudolph) is getting married and asks her best friend since childhood, Annie (co-writer Kristen Wiig) to be her maid of honor. For the next two hours we go through various rituals leading up to the wedding supposedly made funny because Annie’s life is a mess and one of the other bridesmaids (Rose Byrne) is constantly showing her up. The fact that there isn’t a single likeable character in the film makes it hard to sympathize with any of them. Annie, for example, has empty sex with a man (Jon Hamm in an uncredited cameo) who is clearly using her, and can’t appreciate the local cop who is just as clearly a decent sort.
Each sequence has one joke that is driven into the ground by helmer Paul Feig. His amateurish direction here is surprising, considering his considerable involvement in two of television’s recent critic’s darlings, “Freaks And Geeks” and “Arrested Development.” Annie mixes drugs and alcohol on a plane trip. Yes, she will get tipsy and obnoxious. Once the point is made and there are no more laughs to wring from this thin premise, the scene goes on and on as if they’ve struck comedy gold. In another sequence, Annie takes the bridesmaids to a dive Mexican restaurant where they all get food poisoning. The hilarity doesn’t end there – they go to a bridal shop to try on dresses and not only do the women get to vomit on each other, but Lillian gets to experience diarrhea while in the middle of the street… in her wedding dress. That some people will find this funny is perhaps to be expected, if pitied, but that these same people will then praise the film for being character driven and emotionally satisfying is beyond belief.
With the possible exception of “The Dilemma,” which still has the crown as the year’s worst film, “Bridesmaids” is an abomination. We haven’t even gotten to bridesmaid Megan (Melissa McCarthy), whose character is both sexless and sex-starved, and whose brutishness is supposedly her most endearing quality. These are all one-note characters who spend most of the film alternating between being obnoxious and whining, when they’re not busy expelling bodily fluids.
It’s been a long time since this critic has come out of a screening so full of loathing for a film that it seemed large swaths of the moviegoing public was on the verge of embracing. One can hope for an outbreak of good taste deservedly sinking “Bridesmaids,” but when vomit is mistaken for wit, one can only stand way back, hold one’s nose and shake one’s head. •••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books, the most recent being Jar Jar Binks Must Die… And Other Observations About Science Fiction Movies. He teaches film at Suffolk University and lives in Somerville.