“Every party has a pooper that’s why we invited you!”

No, I’ve never been a fan of Judd Apatow comedies like Funny People & Knocked Up, but I promise I went into the theater to see Bridesmaids with an open mind.  Unfortunately I couldn’t see it early because of scheduling conflicts, so by the time I went on opening day (5/15/11), I already knew that my fellow feminists had made it a big test case for women’s box office power.  Dutifully I went; I voted with my purse, genuinely hoping for the best…

Alas, what I saw was a “kitchen sink movie” — the kind of film that throws everything at the wall hoping something/anything will stick: excrement jokes & fat jokes & cat fights for the guys; fancy dresses & romantic entanglements for the gals; social significance for my fellow film critics.  But the plot details, strung together like this, make no sense.

The lead character is “Annie” (played by co-writer & Saturday Night Live regular Kristen Wiig).  As the film opens, Annie has reached a low point.  Her lifetime dream was to open a small bakery, but she’s been crushed by the economic downturn (social significance!).  Now she’s deeply in debt, working at a tedious sales job, & sharing an awful apartment with creepy roommates (fat jokes!).  Somehow she’s convinced herself that she’s in a viable relationship with an extremely wealthy & very handsome guy named “Ted” (John Hamm), but he treats her like s%$t (romantic entanglements AND social significance!).

Then, just to make sure there’s a cherry on top of this disaster sundae, “Lillian” (Maya Rudolph) arrives flashing a new engagement ring.  Will Annie be her Maid of Honor?  Before you can say “Best Friends Forever,” Annie, Lillian, & four more mismatched women are standing on the all-white carpet of a deluxe bridal boutique debating gorgeous gowns when stomachs start to rumble just in time for a food poisoning trifecta: excrement jokes, fat jokes & fancy dresses!!!

My problem is that I never believed in the central relationship.  Rudolph has almost no screen time & her Lillian is never more than a plot ploy.  Most of Annie’s scenes are actually with “Helen” (Rose Byrne), a new person in Lillian’s life who’s desperate to usurp Annie.  There’s some mumbo jumbo about Helen’s background.  Supposedly she’s the wife of the groom’s boss, but we never see either of these guys.  We have no idea what the groom does.  We don’t even have any idea what the bride does.  Obviously the only thing we need to know is that Helen is very rich & seems to have nothing better to do with either her time or her money than to lavish it all on Lillian.  Well, of course: if there’s no Helen, then who will supply the fancy dresses… & cat fights?

And this goes on & on for over two hours (it has to be longer than a typical comedy so there’s time to throw in more romantic entanglements with pseudo-social significance), & I am so bored.  Midway through, Mr. Perfect arrives for his Meet Cute (Chris O’Dowd playing a cop named “Rhodes” with a charming but totally mysterious Irish accent), & I know exactly how all this will end.  Thankfully, eventually, at long last, it finally does.

A few questions:

1.) How much time has passed from the first scene to the last?  It takes a long time to plan a big wedding (& you usually have to reserve the space way in advance), but no matter how many times Annie drives from Milwaukee to Chicago & back, there’s never any snow!

2.) What’s Lillian doing in Chicago anyway & why does she still have an apartment in Milwaukee?

3.) If Annie can’t pay her rent, where does she get the money to buy her ticket to Las Vegas?  (Memo to Helen: Yes, Coach tickets do cost less than First Class tickets, but they still cost something, right?)

I could go on & on, but the very fact that all these minor details bothered me proves that I was never fully engaged in what I was watching.  I left the theater heavy with sadness: We lost the great Jill Clayburgh in November 2010, & now & forever, Clayburgh’s last IMDb credit will be “Annie’s Mom.”  She doesn’t even get a name!  And that speaks volumes about what Hollywood really thinks of women these days 🙁

Photo Credit: Suzanne Hanover – © 2011 Universal Studios.


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