Release Date: May 13th, 2011 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Paul Feig Actors: Kristen Wiig, Rose Byrne, Chris O’Dowd, Maya Rudolph, Ellie Kemper, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Melissa McCarthy
ridesmaids” is not the feel-good teen sex farce it initially passes itself off to be. Instead, it’s bizarrely reminiscent of “Alien,” in that the entire cast is older, seasoned, and no longer the wild party-going folk audiences would expect of them. While there are laugh-out-loud moments, the more substantial themes of life-altering change, staying true to oneself, and recognizing the power of friendship, are dark and serious. Once the dilemmas hit and the lead character begins her downward spiral, the joke-a-minute pacing from the introduction is lost – reflection, problem solving, reparation, and forgiveness replace the humor, along with lengthy scenes of drunkenness or bad decisions that simply aren’t that humorous.
Annie (Kristen Wiig) has just lost her bakery “Cake Baby,” is forced to move in with an incredibly weird brother and sister team, is barely able to pay her bills, and drives a car clearly on its last legs. She thinks she’s reached rock bottom when her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) announces her engagement. Annie is to be the Maid of Honor, and must put aside her personal quagmires to deal with the responsibilities of organizing a wedding shower and bachelorette party. She’s in for a shock when she meets the other bridesmaids, a colorful mix of dysfunctional women: Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey), a loud-mouthed mother of filthy-mouthed children; Becca (Ellie Kemper), a simple girl with far too few worldly experiences; Megan (Melissa McCarthy), an overly obnoxious manhunter; and Helen (Rose Byrne), a ludicrously wealthy socialite.
Helen poses the biggest problem – unbeknownst to Annie, Lillian has become very close to the prettier, richer, skinnier woman, and immediately a feud is formed. Annie wants to prove to her best friend that she’s every bit as good as Helen, but Helen’s plentiful assets allow for better partying, bigger gifts, and superior treatment, especially when it comes to a wedding dress, a trip to Paris, and a luxurious manor location for the shower. Despite the helpful distraction of bonhomous Wisconsin state trooper Rhodes (Chris O’Dowd), who is incontestably the perfect match for Annie, she can’t seem to top her rival, please her longtime confidant, or get out of the rut that is her completely depressing life.
Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph are decent actresses, but far from leading lady material. Since the film was written by Wiig, it’s likely that the story and script are heavily influenced by her point of view, attributing to giving her the blame when the dialogue tries to be representational of candid girlfriend conversations, a la “Sex and the City’s” routine meal-oriented get-togethers, yet lacks funniness or naturalness. The supporting cast frequently takes away the spotlight, being comprised of character actors scrounged up from “The Office,” “Reno 911!,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “Mike & Molly,” “Mad Men,” “Damages,” “Come Fly with Me” and more, but can’t hide the saddening aspect of roles competing to be more pathetic and engage in more embarrassing activities (the best of which involves a food poisoning ordeal) while being filled by B-list actresses.
– Mike Massie