Chick Flick Pick: BRIDESMAIDS. Isn’t It Womantic?

By Josie Brown

Any movie that starts out with the heroine in the middle of a booty call with Mad Men‘s Jon Hamm has got to be the ultimate chick flick.

In that respect–and so many others–Bridesmaids, the comedy starring Saturday Night Live regular Kristin Wiig (who also co-wrote the script, along with Annie Mumolo) earns that moniker in ways that other films (coughSex and the City I, II, or any number–cough) never could.

But this movie isn’t a romance. And it certainly isn’t a bromance. Call it a womance: a movie with a hilarious plot that demonstrates the lengths women will go to, in order to show their love for their BFFs–even as one gets her happily ever after, and the other feels kicked to the curb because of it.

Wiig plays Annie, who keeps her chin up when hit with the news that Lillian, her best friend since elementary school, is getting married, even as Annie’s life is falling apart. Her cake business has failed. Her boyfriend has walked out. Her room mate and his freeloading sister (Matt Lucas and Rebel Wilson, whose turn-of-the-phrase brings to mind fellow British subject Russell Brand) are driving her crazy. She hates her job at a jewelry store, and she doesn’t even have the cash to fix her brake lights–let alone take on the expense of a take-charge maid-of-honor.

Yes, the role was written for Wiig. Even so, I can’t imagine another actress who could have played a better Annie. Wiig is pretty in a real way. Unlike some of Hollywood’s better-known beauties who have been seen in chick lit roles that, a decade ago, would have been played by Meg Ryan or Julia Roberts, she doesn’t have to dye her hair brown or lay off the mascara in order to look like the girl next door. And whereas Wiig’s quirky cuteness is reminiscent of Ryan’s, her comic timing rivals that of Ellen Degeneres.

The role of the bride called for a funny lady who could show emotional pathos. Maya Rudolph is perfect, for all the right reasons: she’s not stunningly beautiful, either in or out of her wedding dress; and she isn’t the one going bridezilla on everyone.

As the the wife of the groom’s boss, Rose Byrne’s preciously prim Ellen pulls out all stops in her quest to win the title of Lillian’s new BFF. Her relationship with Annie starts off on a wrong note–literally–and the competition between the two gets fiercer in each subsequent scene, always with hilarious consequences.

Lillian’s other bridesmaids are also well cast. As her cousin Rita, Wendi McClendon-Covey views the bacheleorette party as a weekend pass away from a sexless marriage and her three prepubescent boys, who, she claims, spew enough semen to harden and “break a blanket.” Rita’s take on marriage has newlywed Becca, played by Ellie Kemper, suddenly realizing that being joined at the hip with her new hubby is not all it’s cracked up to be. Kemper’s role in Bridesmaid has the same sort of breakout potential as The Hangover had for Ed Helms, her cast mate in The Office.

As the fifth bridesmaid, Megan, Melissa McCarthy is the female equivalent of Zack Galifianakas in The Hangover. Yes in this film she’s homely, crude, and the butt (literally and figuratively) of many of the movie’s jokes, but she’s got the heart and soul to pull it off without grossing us out…too badly.

What with his bedroom prowess and fuck-buddy attitude toward women, Hamm’s character, Ted, is this century’s answer to his Mad Men character, Don Draper–and this makes him anything but the romantic lead. That honor goes to Irish actor Chris O’Dowd, who plays a cop with a soft spot for Annie, even if she can’t appreciate it at first.

This being a woman’s film, love wins out over lust–but the most important relationship in the movie is that between gal pals Annie and Lillian.

I think it apropos that Jill Clayburgh–the star of the last generation’s female coming-of-age films An Unmarried Woman and Starting Over–got to  play Wiig’s mother in the film. Sadly, this was Clayburgh’s last film.  The role was a small one, but Clayburgh gave it the quirky sweetness and depth that had you believing that she and Wiig truly could have been mother and daughter.

Speaking of The Hangover: After seeing this, I feel sorry for the upcoming sequel to last year’s bromance hit.  It had a lot to live up to, even before Bridesmaids hit the big screen.

The ladies may have come first, but I’m guessing they’ll have the last laugh of the summer.

Bridesmaids opens in theaters everywhere on Friday, May 13, 2011.

Click here to watch Bridesmaids

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Josie Brown is SingleMindedWomen.com’s Relationships Channel Editor. Her most recent novel, Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives, is in bookstores everywhere.

Her next novel, The Baby Planner, is  in bookstores now. You can read an excerpt here…

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