Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bridesmaids (2011) – Review

Bridesmaids is funny (very funny at times), but lacks a strong narrative structure and developed characters. Directed Paul Feig and writer/star Kristen Wiig are able to create a number of hilarious bits on par with the best comedies (male oriented or otherwise). There are a number of scenes (of course depending on your comedy preferences) that will find you laughing, giggling or otherwise occupied with fits of hilarity. There is no questioning this film’s ability to be funny and entertain, because it is and it does. The issues arise more from its pacing, characters and overall narrative structure. The funny scenes are held together by an underdeveloped story centering on Wiig’s Annie (the best friend of the bride who feels threated by another seemingly more successful bridesmaid, as she fears losing her friend). Annie may not be an overly likable character (but comedic protagonists do not have to be likable), but Feig does a good job with her character (she may even be overdeveloped, with a few unnecessary character scenes undermining the forward momentum of the narrative). However, all the other characters for the most part are one-note jokes, caricatures or narrative stereotypes and not fleshed out characters (leaving the audience with only Annie to relate to and connect with). Thus, the stakes of Annie’s journey are not as impactful, leaving only the humor to carry the film (which it does for the most part; though, the best comedies have funny jokes and great characters we can connect with). The film feels hollow without developed characters regardless of how funny some of the scenes and characters are. An even bigger problem is the terrible pacing. The film feels longer than it is, losing momentum (and the audience) a number of times, which directly relates to the weak narrative and trivial characters. As funny and enjoyable as moments of Bridesmaids are, overall it is disappointing given the poor structure.

Technical and acting achievements: Director Paul Feig has an excellent resume for comedy on TV (The Office, Freak and Greeks and many others), but he needs to refine and improve his feature narrative storytelling, as it is by far the weakest part of this film (and really stops it from being something special). He is able to garner very funny work from his actors, and his filmmaking style is suitable for standard comedies (he does not have much of an artistic style, more of a straightforward Hollywood style). Character development among co-starring and supporting characters is also an area that needs improvement for future feature films, but this is also the case for writers Wiig and Annie Mumolo (this being their first feature as well). The score by Michael Andrews, the cinematography by Robert Yeoman and the production design by Jefferson Sage are all good and fitting, but nothing more – the performances taking center stage. The supporting cast features a number of very amusing bit parts, highlight by performances from: Jon Hamm, Ellie Kemper and Rebel Wilson. Jill Clayburgh is quite good as Annie’s mom, both sweet and caring, but strong and challenging. Rose Byrne is good, but Melissa McCarthy steals much of the comedy (and scenes) awarded to the supporting cast and Chris O’Dowd provides a needed break from the exaggerated bit humor, with more personal and heartfelt scenes (and also providing some laughs; if only his character had more development and screen time). Wiig is very funny and proves she is deserving of more leading roles in comedies as she certainly can carry a film and deliver the laughs.

Bridesmaids is funnier than the score may suggest, but as a narrative film it is not quite good enough. 7/10

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