Thursday, June 2, 2011
Writers Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig and director Paul Feig have struck a rich, raucous vein with this raunchy yet heartfelt comedy about a maid-of-honor on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Annie (co-writer Wiig) is teetering on the emotional and fiscal edge. Her failed baking business has forced her to share an apartment with creepy British siblings, and she’s physically involved with a self-absorbed jerk (the uncredited Jon Hamm). But when her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) announces she’s just become engaged and wants Annie to be her maid-of-honor, Annie agrees with barely concealed panic. As a further complication fellow bridesmaid Helen (Rose Byrne) begins competing with Annie and taking over the wedding plans. Mumolo & Wiig’s generous script gives its stellar ensemble ample comedic breathing room and allows each scene’s humor to play out in full, while director Feig shows perfect restraint during the movie’s outrageous set pieces. At the risk of giving too much away, the bridal party dress fitting, the flight to Las Vegas, and the bridal shower meltdown may be the most painfully funny scenes you’ll see in a film this year. Playing against expectation Rudolph’s bride is the warm seeming calm around which the higher-strung bridesmaids spin, while Byrne masks Helen’s insecurity with passive-aggressive overcompensation. Wendi McLendon-Covey, as a marriage- and child-weary matron, and Ellie Kemper, as an anxious newlywed, make the most of their smaller roles, while Chris O’Dowd nicely underplays Annie’s potential romantic interest. As the crass and aggressive bridesmaid Megan, however, Melissa McCarthy steals nearly every scene she’s in. Her character is one that could have gone wrong in so many ways, but McCarthy’s fearless commitment delivers huge laughs. But in the end this is Annie’s movie, and the luminous Wiig channels Lucille Ball in her prime, balancing physical comedy with understated vulnerability.