My friends invited me to a preview screening of Bridesmaids last night, and I accepted the invitation with a sense of cautious optimism. The trailer for the film admittedly didn't do much for me, but I was intrigued by the concept of a female-driven Apatow film. Ultimately, I went into the theater with modest expectations, hoping to get a few good laughs out of it.
By the time we came out of the theater, my three friends and I had smiles plastered across our faces, and we couldn't stop talking about the film for the next couple hours. We all loved it. I think it easily ranks with the best of the Apatow productions, and it might even be my personal favorite. Like all of Apatow's productions, there are admittedly scenes that arguably go a little too far or a little too long, but that's a small criticism when the film successfully fires on so many other cylinders.
To start with, the film is hilarious, and I think the comedy far exceeds the standalone bits shown in the trailer. Scene after scene is filled with humorous and often sidesplitting moments, and they had the theater in an uproar during the screening. I can't say enough about Kristen Wiig. Prior to this, I've always liked her to some extent but never really loved her. I think she's good at what she does, but I wasn't sure her shtick could sustain an entire film. Would her passive aggressive wit get old? Is it the only note she can play? Can she handle anything more dramatic? Ultimately, she blew me away in this film. Not only is she consistently and uniquely funny, but her character is surprisingly well-developed, and Wiig brings the character to vibrant and dynamic life on-screen.
And this brings me to my next point about Bridesmaids: the film has a surprising amount of depth that completely caught me off guard. Bridesmaids isn't a quickie 80-minute gag fest by any stretch of the imagination; it's actually a leisurely paced 2-hour character-driven comedy that takes time to develop its characters and establish the various relationships and resultant conflicts between them. Ultimately, the film ends up being quite heartfelt and even rather sad in places. Despite the over-the-top antics shown in the trailer, the themes that the film explores are actually quite grounded. Kristen Wiig's character is someone who is feeling completely let down by life, which is a place we've all been, and the personal journey of her character resonated strongly for me. While her character is easily the most well-developed of the bunch, even the other bridesmaids ultimately show some three-dimensionality as well, despite the fact that they are sometimes initially introduced as two-dimensional caricatures.
Ultimately, Bridesmaids was one of the most enjoyable comedies I've seen in a long time. It's certainly not perfect: it could probably do with some editing, there might be a few too many subplots (some of which are left unexplored), and it arguably goes too over-the-top at times, but everything else about the film works so well that these complaints are little more than nitpicks. While I applaud everyone involved in the production, it is Kristen Wiig who deserves the most accolades. As co-writer and lead actress, she plays a huge part in the film's success, and I sincerely hope this film puts her on the Hollywood map, as I would love to see more from her in the future. Whatever the case may be, Bridesmaids certainly makes for a successful maiden voyage for her into the world of feature-film comedies.