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Bridesmaids

Kristen Wiig proves that women can be funny too, when they write the script.

Rose Byrne, Maya Rudolph, Kristen Wiig, Ellie Kemper, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids. <> © Universal Pictures

Annie (Kristen Wiig: Paul) isn’t having the best year. Her cake-baking business went under in the recession. She’s in a sex-only relationship with a vapid but handsome user (Jon Hamm: Mad Men). Now childhood friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph: Saturday Night Live) asks Annie to be her maid of honor.
    This should be good news. But as Annie fumbles through planning bachelorette parties and showers, she discovers that weddings are a nightmare.
    Already broke, Annie is faced with purchasing elaborate dresses, plane tickets and more to keep up with the bridal demands. To make matters worse, Annie must befriend Lillian’s other bridesmaids, an odd collection ranging from crass to obnoxiously perfect.
    Can Annie pull together perfect wedding celebrations while herding the unruly bridal party? Better still, can she maintain her cool when Lillian’s new best friend Helen (Rose Byrne: Insidious) tries to one-up the harried maid of honor at every turn?
    No. But it’s pretty funny to watch her try.
    Wiig’s whip-smart script looks at female friendship and rivalry in a way very few male screenwriters do, portraying women as people. Gross, insecure, awkward and often hilarious, these women are flawed but interesting members of the wedding.
    Bridesmaids examines female interactions and rivalries without condescension. Annie’s mother (the late Jill Clayburgh in her final role) is a flake, her best friend lost in a wedding daze and her new rival a pain, but none of these women is one dimensional. Even the clichéd aspects of rivalry and cattiness are nuanced and fun. Helen and Annie compete for the title of Lillian’s best friend, engaging in an increasingly silly series of subtle competitions. It’s a stereotype, but one that rings true.
    Hiring a cast of talented actresses was a great first step to making a female-led comedy work. Wiig is an engaging lead who’s flawed, funny and multi-dimensional. Her relationship with Lillian is comfortable and frank without becoming an over-wrought Sex and the City-style cliché.
    Supporting Wiig is a crazed cast of women giving new spins to old female stereotypes: duplicitous Helen, wide-eyed innocent Becca (Ellie Kemper: Somewhere) butch, crude Megan (Melissa McCarthy: Mike and Molly). McCarthy is a revelation, ridiculous, raunchy and hilarious in every scene she graces.
    The only faltering in Wiig’s feminist comedy is her perfect love interest Rhodes (Chris O’Dowd: Gulliver’s Travels). He’s sweet, he’s got a nifty Irish brogue and the patience of a saint. Even his apartment is tidy and nicely decorated. Best of all, he gets our heroine completely.
    That’s nice and all, but if you’re going to bother giving all the ladies layered personalities, it seems pretty sexist to stick the lead with a white knight stereotype. Still, Wiig can’t be expected to break down all the gender biases in one movie. And O’Dowd manages to make Rhodes’ perfection affable instead of annoying.
    In spite of an unrealistic dream man, Bridesmaids is a pretty great double-X chromosome answer to raunchy male comedies such as The Hangover. Get a group of girls together for a raucous night out. Better yet, bring a guy and prove how funny women can be when not trapped in a Katherine Heigl movie.

Great Comedy • R • 125 mins.