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Never a Bride 

'Bridesmaids' lets Kristen Wiig shine


05.18.11


In Bridesmaids, Kristen Wiig is at her most comically nonchalant as desperation seeps out of her pores. Two endearing scenes include a mutant shuffle-off-to-Buffalo at a sobriety checkpoint and, when actually drunk, a Eurotrash sashay to squeeze past a mean flight attendant guarding the first-class section. She hopes a pair of dark sunglasses will disguise her (she just tried to sneak in 45 seconds previously); in a Garbo drawl, she says, "I'm not me."

Whoever she is, Wiig has always been pretty. But with a series of defeated hairstyles, we can believe her as Annie, a Milwaukee woman going downhill. Her bakery's gone bankrupt, and her hanger-on (Jon Hamm) uses her for sex. Suddenly, Annie's best pal Lillian (Maya Rudolph) announces her impending marriage. Lillian also introduces a new gorgeous friend (Rose Byrne) who elbows Annie aside and takes charge of the wedding. For Annie, the wedding planning becomes more pretentious, more expensive and ever more humiliating.

Judd Apatow is the executive producer here, and Bridesmaids is shaped like an Apatow film; that is, it's a half-hour too long. Released as a chick-flick alternative, the script requires the traditional pointless fight between Annie and her new man (Chris O'Dowd). This tactic sends the film into overtime, and there are frequent reboots of the story through sheer filler: helicopter shots of the town, accompanied by covers of '80s tunes. Still, there's fine support work by Matt Lucas and Rebel Wilson as Annie's sluglike housemates. Melissa McCarthy is excellent as a hulking yet sawed-off friend, whose theme idea for a bridal shower is Fight Club: "She shows up, and we beat the shit out of her."

Wiig, who co-wrote, is better than anything in the movie. In her capacity to register degrees of comedic suffering, she suggests what happens when a movie is really loose, down deep in its soul, and not merely wobbly and formulaic.

'Bridesmaids' is showing in wide release.






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