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SXSW: Early Reviews of Bridesmaids, Starring Kristin Wiig, Jon Hamm, Maya Rudolph

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood March 15, 2011 at 10:05AM

Universal tried to bring Office director Paul Feig and writer-actress Kristin Wiig's dumb-female comedy Bridesmaids (May 13) to SXSW as a work-in-progress, but as soon as the director admitted that it was a final cut from the Paramount stage Sunday night, Variety critic Joe Leydon whipped out his timer, took notes and went straight home to file his review. It was savage. Apres Joe, le deluge. (Excerpts and more below).
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Thompson on Hollywood

Universal tried to bring Office director Paul Feig and writer-actress Kristin Wiig's dumb-female comedy Bridesmaids (May 13) to SXSW as a work-in-progress, but as soon as the director admitted that it was a final cut from the Paramount stage Sunday night, Variety critic Joe Leydon whipped out his timer, took notes and went straight home to file his review. It was savage. Apres Joe, le deluge. (Excerpts and more below).

I have to agree with him. While I laughed occasionally at some of the gags written by Wiig and partner Annie Mumolo (perhaps tweaked by producer Judd Apatow), the movie is ruined by heavy-handed, lurching direction and female self-loathing on a grand scale. Mad Men's Jon Hamm is sexy and funny in the role of a hateful boyfriend, and TV's Melissa McCarthy steals the show as a lustful big girl. Maya Rudolph's charms continue to elude me; Damages' Rose Byrne deserves better. And while Wiig can be a likably adept comedienne (Whip It, Paul), she doesn't have the right stuff to carry a movie in a profoundly unsympathetic role--nor does the romantic subplot work at all. That said, the movie yields enough gross-out laughter to sell some tickets.

Judging from my twitterfeed, other folks like this movie more than Joe and me. (Fan-friendly SXSW was the perfect place to debut it.) See below.

Variety:

"Obviously intended as a femme version of a rude and crude boys-gone-wild comedy, complete with projectile vomiting, inconvenient defecation and fusillades of F-bombs, "Bridesmaids" sorely lacks the saving grace of being consistently funny. Unveiled as a "work in progress" at the SXSW Film Festival in a version described by director Paul Feig as a final cut that requires only some soundtrack tweaking, this overlong and underwhelming trifle might generate respectable opening weekend theatrical biz for Universal, but only if trailers and TV spots can make it look like an exuberantly raunchy laugh riot."

The Film Stage:

"Some criticize the Apatow machine for not focusing on females in any real capacity. Here is the reaction: a film directed, like the Sex & The City films, by a man. Bridesmaids, directed by Paul Feig, is full of big laughs as well as some honest moments brought to the table thanks to impeccable comic timing/dramatic pause by Kristen Wiig, who plays Annie, the complete opposite of Carrie Bradshaw. The women here aren’t the Sex & The City gals by a long shot….The film embraces that women have curves. I am almost ashamed I’m applauding something that should not be revolutionary, but it is admirable…Men are, in some ways, treated as the props, much in the same way Apatow has been accused of treating his women…while I’m not someone who thinks there is a conspiracy against women directors working in Hollywood – I think Hollywood hasn’t made more smart pictures for women because brilliant, energetic films meant for women like Whip It have bombed – there is an absence of femininity on celluloid that can’t be ignored, even in some films meant for women. Sex and the City gets made because it makes money. If you want smarter films, then start seeing them."

JoBlo:

"Described early on as a sort of HANGOVER for women, BRIDESMAIDS is actually anything but. The script, written by Wiig and partner Annie Mumolo, packs just as many laughs is layered with deep emotion, rare for a big studio comedy. The project fits very well into the oeuvre of Judd Apatow produced movies as this feels like it has far more in common with KNOCKED UP than THE HANGOVER…BRIDESMAIDS often hilarious. always funny and vulgar but always in service of a story that's both sweet and relatable. This is not BRIDE WARS. This is not a chick flick. This is a movie that will cement your physical and mental love affair with Kristen Wiig and could very well just be one of the funniest movies of the year."

ThePlaylist:

"There’s a station-to-station tedium to some of director Paul Feig’s comedy setups, leading to comic sequences with a mandated sense of anarchy, usually involving the ability of Movie Alcohol to turn average-minded drinkers into Wacky Troublemakers. But, as per all producer Judd Apatow’s collaborators, he allows actors the space to fill out their characters and push them beyond their own surface vulnerabilities. Unlike previous Apatow-related pictures (there is a formula), the movie doesn’t grind to a halt for a dramatic beat, instead interweaving the small tragedies within character-based humor. As co-writer, Wiig has control of her character’s emotional journey, but the results remain surprising. A talented and attractive comedienne, Wiig has yet to find the appropriate role to hone her talents onscreen, which makes her deceptively complex work in “Bridesmaids” such a revelation…[A-]"

SlashFilm:

"Bridesmaids takes the Apatow-formula and applies it to a film populated by funny women. I’m sure it will be criticized for being misogynistic, even though it is much less so than his other films, and much much much less Misandristic than most romantic comedies…The movie has some great set pieces, the centerpiece of which is not afraid to mix women with potty humor, and does so not just for the gross out laughs, but at the service the story and in a way which escalates to a brilliant crescendo. Confident, a mix of laugh-out-loud funny, smart, raunchy, and heartbreaking. Bridesmaides is a homerun. Hopefully it will become a box office hit and inspire Hollywood to expand their classification of what a 'chick flick' can be and strive for something more. We talk a lot about genre and conventions, but none of that really matters when you have a great movie."

Cinemablend:

"Wiig's performance in Bridesmaids is a tour-de-force of comedic stylings, an open stage for everything from slapstick to snappy dialogue to her signature under-the-breath quipping…Like Apatow's films, Bridesmaids runs a tad long with jokes occasionally overstay their welcome, but the humor and talent are so refreshing, you forgive the filmmakers for allowing the ladies to riff for a few more beats. The movie isn't a blast because a major studio release finally let women play in the comedic sandbox, but because it's a sharp flick with a handful of great performances… Bridesmaids is raunchy, well-crafted fun and a must-see when it hits theaters in May. The world needs more three-dimensional and unbridled romantic comedy leads like Kristin Wiig. Please?"

Here's the trailer:

This article is related to: Directors, Festivals, Genres, Headliners, Studios, Reviews, Media, SXSW, comedy


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.