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

by Anne Thompson
March 15, 2011 10:05 AM
7 Comments
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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:

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7 Comments

  • nick | April 18, 2012 10:44 PMReply

    Wow! Me and my friends just stumbled upon this (4/18/12) and are laughing are asses off!

    Hundred of millions of dollars and 2 oscar noms later, this THOMPSON (woman?) must feel like a major IDIOT. And she's allowed her own industry blog???? Woow. Talk about being off the mark

  • JS | May 23, 2011 3:46 AMReply

    Worst movie I have seen in years. Gross, and so raunchy that it is not funny, unless maybe you are a twelve-year-old boy. Extremely vulgar and offensive. It was the longest two hours of my life. If you love the F word and jokes about sexual body parts, mixed in with a little dash of projectile vomiting and defecating in public, you will love this film. However, I want my money back!

  • Jon deleon | May 11, 2011 3:39 AMReply

    This movie is SOOOOOO funny. I wish it would last longer! Kristen Wiig is the funniest woman in Hollywood. I cant say enough good things about this movie. Go see it!!!!!!!

  • Anthony | March 17, 2011 6:50 AMReply

    The critics won't ruin the box office parade this film is expected to have this summer.

  • sp | March 16, 2011 8:43 AMReply

    Shark, the reviews are mixed.

  • Shark | March 16, 2011 4:23 AMReply

    Polarizing? All the reviews mentioned here except Thompson's and Leydon's are largely positive. I suspect Thompson will be in a very small minority of people who don't like this.

  • Ryan | March 15, 2011 12:08 PMReply

    Is it too P.C. of me to suggest we get rid of the comedienne label? Kristen Wiig is a comedian like she's an actor. I'm a man, and I know nothing is meant by it, I'm just tired of that word. Great piece though. I'm alarmed by how polarizing the reviews are. Reminds me of the reaction to Kick-Ass.

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