Film and TV

Reviews For The Easily Distracted:

Title: Bridesmaids

Hey, Why Do You Always Put The Title Of The Movie Right Under The Review Header? Isn't That Redundant? Your mother's redundant.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Three-and-a-half Monarch butterflies out of five.

Tagline: "Save the date."

Better Tagline: "Girls poop too."

Brief Plot Synopsis: Annie's lifelong best friend Lillian is getting married and has asked her to be her maid of honor, which is probably not a responsibility a broke, unemployed, recently dumped woman with possible mental issues needs.

"Mental Issues?" Kristen Wiig's character has distinctly self-destructive tendencies, which in real life might be cause for concern. However, in the movies it's the source of much hilarity.

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: She lives with a creepy pair of British siblings, her only romantic attachment is a rich douchebag (Mad Men's Jon Hamm) who refers to her as "Fuck Buddy" because her boyfriend bailed on her when her bakery went under, so when her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) asks her to be maid of honor at her upcoming wedding, it's hardly surprising that Annie (Kristen Wiig) feels some trepidation. Compounding this is Lillian's new BFF Helen (Rose Byrne), the trophy wife of Lillian's fiancé's boss, whose perfect coiffure, impeccable fashion sense, and unmatched skill at event planning quickly drives Annie even further into self-loathing.

"Crticial" Analysis: The gross-out comedy is the traditional domain of the male of the species (imagine me saying that in my best Marlin Perkins voice). With very few exceptions (The Sweetest Thing with Cameron Diaz and Christina Applegate), any women in the mix are co-stars with males (There's Something About Mary Cameron Diaz and Ben Stiller ) or part of an ensemble (Reno 911!: Miami with Bridesmaids costar Wendi McLendon-Covey and others).

That trend would appear to reverse itself somewhat this year in with the release of two girl-friendlier flicks. The first - Bridesmaids - is being billed as "The Hangover for chicks," though the only real thematic similarities are the wedding plot device.

[The second is Bad Teacher, which I'll probably review in coming weeks if only to further investigate what the hell the deal is with casting Cameron Diaz in all of these].

But the thing about Bridesmaids is, minus the profanity and a handful of scenes (including a notable one involving dress fittings and a particularly virulent strain of food poisoning), it's not really that gross. Granted, by the standards of dippy rom-coms like Something Borrowed or He's Just Not That Into You, it's almost Pasolini-esque. But it pales in comparison to XY equivalents like Jackass: Number Two or Dumb and Dumber.

Is it funny? Why yes, yes it is. And admittedly, a healthy portion of laughs are a result of the aforementioned grossness, but there are also plenty to be had from the quieter scenes involving Wiig and Rudolph, or in the banter between Annie and the cop (Chris Dowd) she becomes involved with. And fans of Gilmore Girls and Mike & Molly (are there any fans of Mike & Molly?) will barely recognize Melissa McCarthy as Megan, the foul-mouthed, promiscuous sister of the groom who ends up being the most fully realized character in the whole movie.

If there's a difference in styles, it's that Wiig's effort (she co-wrote the film with Annie Mumolo, who has a bit part as the freaked out plane passenger) brings more emotion into the mix, unlike say The Hangover, which relegates any attempts at genuine human interaction to the film's end. Followed by boob shots.

Credit Judd Apatow for helping get this off the ground. Wiig is a fine comedian and I've had a crush on Maya Rudolph for 10 years, but neither is what you'd call "Hollywood pretty." I suspect getting this made instead of another SNL movie (probably about Gilly) was thanks to him.

But credit Wiig for keeping her film from suffering the same bloat and uncomfortable maudlinism that seems to creep into all of Apatow's comedies. Bridesmaids has moments of grossness, but at its heart there's, well, some real heart. In a way, it's the perfect date movie: Shit jokes for the guys, female bonding for the ladies, and puppies for everybody.

And I can die happy, because I got to hear Don Draper say, "Cup my balls."

Bridesmaids is in theaters today. Don't see it with someone planning a wedding.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar