Saturday, 14 January 2012

Bridesmaids

Lowdown: A single woman going through a crisis triggered by her best friend’s wedding.
Review:
It’s funny how expectations can be deceiving, and Bridesmaids proved a fine example. Through all the reviews and snippets I’ve been exposed to, I have been led to believe Bridemaids is some sort of a vulgar comedy that mocks the whole institution of the wedding ceremony and does so from the female’s point of view. As it turns out, I was wrong: yes, Bridesmaids is all of the above, but it is mostly a film about a single woman in her thirties that’s struggling against social expectations (amplified and manifested through the wedding). The film’s journey sorts her out, more or less, and helps her realize what’s important in life (friends) and what’s less important (wedding ceremonies). By doing it all from the female point of view, instead of the male one that dominates the world of American cinema, Bridesmaids can be regarded as quite a revolutionary film by Hollywood’s standards.
Our hero is Annie (Kristen Wiig), to whom we’re introduced while she’s having sex with a fuck-buddy that doesn’t care much for her. We learn she used to run her own baking shop that went under due to the GFC; we learn she drives an old lemon; we learn she works at a dead end job; we learn she shares her apartment with two weird flatmates; and we learn her best friend since childhood, Lillian (Maya Rudolph) is soon to be married with our Annie nominated as the bridesmaids’ CEO (or best-woman, or whatever the term is).
At this point we’re introduced to the rest of the bridesmaids’ crew. These include the would be husband’s obese and weird sister, a friend who’s only ever had sex with her husband, another friend with kids who can’t tolerate parenthood anymore, and - most notably - Helen (Rose Byrne), the lonely wife of the husband to be’s boss. Helen’s got lots of money on her hands, no one to give her attention, and nothing to do with her time but compete for Lillian’s top spot against our Annie. As the war wages between the two, the already cracked ground breaks loose under Annie’s weight and her life takes a dive. Saving her will take a lot of initiative on her part, and a lot of effort from friends – including an unlikely highway patrol man, Rhodes (Chris O’Dowd of The IT Crowd’s fame).
Combine all of the above into the mix that is Bridesmaids and I would say the dish in your hands is a drama with comic elements that lacks [most of] the corny stuff that normally gets labelled under “romantic comedy”. Romance is not at the top of this film’s agenda but rather friendship, with males playing only a minor role to the dominant female characters. That, I guess, is exactly why Bridesmaids managed to successfully win the reputation it rightly acquired: it’s rare to see Hollywood treat issues besetting most Western females so thoroughly, even if it does so in its typical exaggerated manner. Perhaps that is why Bridesmaids sought comedy talent from overseas with its use of Rhodes as well as Matt Lucas (of Little Britain fame) for key supporting roles.
Best scene: In one of the pre-wedding gathering events that are held by American wedding traditions, Helen and Annie try to outdo one another and show just how they are Lillian’s bestest friend ever by repeatedly trying to surpass each other’s speech. The scene’s simply hilarious, and more sophisticatedly so than the subsequent tennis match between the two characters that turns into the two trying to kill each other with high velocity balls.
Technical assessment:
Whoever it was that designed the menu system on Bridesmaids’ Blu-ray should be shot. After we finished watching the film we went to the extras menu, where we discovered the existence of a longer (10 extra minutes) unrated version of the film. Why weren’t we told about it before watching the cinematic version? No one looks at the extras menu before they watch the film for fear of spoilers; the menu design should have taken that into account.
Other than that, this is an average quality Blu-ray. The use of sound is particularly mundane.
Overall:
I’ll be harsh and give Bridesmaids 3 out of 5 stars for being just a nice comedy.
However, I am seriously bothered by whether the film’s uniqueness should have earned it an extra half star; the main reason I didn’t give it that bonus is that Bridesmaids is only unique in the context of mainstream American cinema; it is not unique in the context of cinema as a whole. That is to say, Bridesmaids appears good just because most of the stuff coming from Hollywood’s direction is so bad.

No comments: