There are two types of main characters in the world of romantic comedies: the protagonist is generally either someone we like to be jealous of – for their enviable looks, perfect job and a social life worthy of Kim Kardashian – or, a complete loser who we can laugh at and pity for their misfortunes. The protagonists of Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids (2011) (with a producer credit going to Judd Apatow) undeniably belong to the second category.
The film’s lead, Annie (Kirsten Wiig), is the epitome of all the flaws, dilemmas and manias that modern women experience more times than they care to admit. After having to give up her dream of running a successful bakery because of the recession, she now works in a job she hates and lives with two coarse and selfish flatmates –and to top it all off, she’s also involved with a tactless, egocentric man who treats her like little more than an inflatable doll.
Just when she thinks she’s hit rock bottom, things start to get even worse. Her best-friend-forever Lillian (Maya Rudolph) announces she’s going to get married; Annie is picked as the maid of honour, but soon finds she has to fight for her title with one of the other bridesmaids, ‘Queen Bee’ Helen (Rose Byrne), who is rich, stylish, and fiercely unyielding in her bid to steal the limelight and become Lillian’s favourite.
During the preparations in the run up to the wedding day, Annie’s attempts to battle her own deep rooted insecurities and prevail over Helen only have disastrously hilarious effects, unfolding what becomes a tragic comedy of misunderstandings, mistakes, back stabbings and toilet humour galore.
Bridesmaids has already been described as the “female version of The Hangover” – but there is something more to it. In addition to an almost all-female main cast, something rarely seen in comedies, the protagonists are surprisingly, and refreshingly, very real. They’re dishevelled, flawed, insecure, human – shaking the institutional rom-com portrayal of women to the core, and replacing Barbie doll looks with attitude, character, and foul-mouthed self-irony.
The whole movie is kept together by the fantastic Wiig, who carries the story (which she also wrote), effortlessly sliding through it and captivating the audience with her honest portray of paranoid, insecure and very human Annie. Byrne injects some much-needed soul and irony to the otherwise demonic Helen – the exchange between Wiig and Byrne that starts off their rivalry is positively unmissable. Melissa McCarthy gets herself noticed in the role of Megan, a bridesmaid you will probably never forget; and Chris O’Dowd is charming and funny as love interest Nathan.
Despite a couple of ‘politically correct’ moments, along with the few ‘wedding flick’ clichés that seem to be ever present in movies about nuptials, Bridesmaids manages to take a seen-before storyline and turn it into something unpredictable, entertaining, and so completely wrong it feels right – and very satisfying.