A Comedy Written by and Starring Women, "Bridesmaids" Still Screwed

Built around the talents of cowriter/lead actress Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids is the first female-fronted comedy produced by Hollywood kingpin Judd Apatow, who has weathered criticism in the past for his brand's dudecentric point of view. Bridesmaids' core relationship is between Annie (Wiig) and her best friend of 30-plus years, Lillian (Maya Rudolph), whose recent engagement — and new friendship with Helen (Rose Byrne), the effortlessly polished and capable trophy wife of her fiancé's boss — sends underemployed, chronically single Annie into a tailspin. As socially awkward, underachieving Annie attempts to prove her worth as a friend to Lillian by day, by night she inadvertently charms traffic cop Rhodes (Chris O'Dowd) who, with his practical perfection and unwavering attention, begins to disrupt Annie's default practice of finding excuses to give up when realities fail to match fantasies. At its best, Bridesmaids merges high-concept, skit-length and skit-paced comedy with naturalistic conversation (an extended scene on an airplane finds the heretofore-unknown common ground between Robert Altman and Jerry Lewis). It's funniest when the humor is based in language, with Wiig exercising her talent for passive-aggressive one-upping in heightened situations. But many of the chaotic set pieces cataloging Annie's self-destruction (a pair of party fouls that recall Wiig's most painful SNL mugging, an even more foul and painful extended riff on public diarrhea) have a kind of dumb crassness that works against Bridesmaids' often smart, highly class-conscious deconstruction of female friendship and competition. Comedy of humiliation is one thing; a fat lady shitting in a sink is another.

 
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