Blu-ray Review: BRIDESMAIDS

bridesmaidsBridesmaids is a rare species, an R-rated, female-driven comedy. More importantly, it’s one that scored big with audiences and critics alike. Bridesmaids is a product of the Judd Apatow comedy machine and directed by Paul Feig, who worked as director and producer on Apatow’s short-lived (but much loved) TV series Freaks & Geeks. The script was written by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, who first met as members of famed improvisational group, the Groundlings. This is the first starring role for Wiig, who remains one of the few bright spots on the otherwise stale Saturday Night Live.

Life has been rough on Annie (Wiig), a single woman living in Milwaukee. Her bakery went out of business and she’s stuck living with an oddball brother and sister (Matt Lucas and Rebel Wilson). Her only relationship consists of self-destructive booty calls to a douchebag playboy (an uncredited Jon Hamm), who kicks her out the morning after. Annie enters a new level of hell when she becomes the maid of honor for the wedding of BFF, Lillian (Maya Rudolph). This role is far more involving than best man. As maid of honor, Annie is in charge of planning luncheons, fittings, the bachelorette party, and the bridal shower.

Poor Annie hardly has her own shit together so mounting Lillian’s pre-wedding escapades is a daunting task akin to the Twelve Labours of Hercules. Her job is made all the more difficult when she meets the eclectic bridal party consisting of Lillian’s cousin Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey), an embittered housewife; Becca (Ellie Kemper), a naïve, whitebread newlywed, and Lillian’s soon-to-be sister-in-law Megan (Melissa McCarthy). But, the one Annie has to watch out for is Helen (Rose Byrne), the trophy wife of the groom’s boss. Helen is everything Annie isn’t. She’s rich, glamorous, well connected, and appears to be gunning for Annie’s spot as best friend.

Bridesmaids acts as a counterpoint to Apatow’s male-dominated comedies, which some (Katherine Heigl, I’m looking at you) have described as “sexist.” However, the film is more than just the same Apatow formula with the genders switched. Neither is it simply a female version of The Hangover. It’s a poignant story about the turbulent relationships between women and the disillusionment of middle age. The protagonists are well-rounded characters antithetical of the general stereotypes like the idealized object of lust or the domineering shrew. Take for example, Megan, who is played with gusto by Melissa McCarthy (Gilmore Girls, Mike & Molly). At first, she appears to be a crude and oversexed caricature of the overweight person. It doesn’t help that she’s wearing a golf cap like Homer Simpson in that episode where he purposely gains weight (at least, she skips the flower-print muumuu). But, she has one of the more touching scenes during a third act confessional that forces Annie to re-examine the decisions in her life. By the way, McCarthy deserves major kudos for fearlessly putting herself out there to portray this character. She gets some of the biggest laughs during the movie.

Wiig has previously shined in supporting roles in movies such as Knocked Up, Ghost Town, and Adventureland as well as a meatier role earlier this year in Paul. Here, Wiig displays a wide range of talents beyond mere comedienne. She excels at low-key humor, over-the-top zaniness, and physical humor, all of which are on display here from exasperated facial expressions to a wild meltdown after Helen steals her thunder one too many times. Wiig has also shown she is capable of more dramatic roles as evidenced by her turn as the den mother to a team of rambunctious roller derby girls in Drew Barrymore’s Whip It. As Annie, Wiig imbues a sense of pathos not commonly found in a raunchy comedy.

This being an Apatow production, Bridesmaids has its fair share of salty language and gags built around bodily functions. The most uproarious sequence takes place at a snooty dress shop after Annie and the gals unknowingly ate tainted meat at a strip mall Brazilian restaurant. There’s plenty of vomit and poop, but none of it is more amusing than Wiig’s quiet and sweaty desperation as she vainly pretends to not be sick. Wiig is even funnier during an airplane sequence when she suffers a bad reaction to a mixture of Valium and Scotch. She also has great chemistry with former Saturday Night Live castmate Maya Rudolph and it makes you wish they do buddy comedy to establish themselves as a 21st century Lucy and Ethel.

Video/Audio: 9
The video is presented in 1080p with an aspect ratio of 2.40:1. This is a beautiful and vibrant transfer with glowing skin tones and eye-popping colors.

The audio is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The sound isn’t raucous, but it is surprisingly vibrant for a dialogue-heavy comedy. The dialogue (even quieter whispers) come in crisp and clear.

Extras: 6
The Blu-Ray features an audio commentary track with director Paul Feig, co-writer Annie Mumolo, and actors Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey, and Ellie Kemper. This is an extremely boisterous track with the participants obviously having a blast talking about the movie, script changes, and the infamous scatological sequence.

Made of Honor: Behind the Scenes of Bridesmaids (31:43) is a detailed look at the making of the movie with Wiig and Mumolo discussing how they first met, conception of the story, and the actual production.

Blind Date with Dave (5:21) and Dave-O-Rama (1:45) are deleted scenes with Paul Rudd as potential beau for Kristen Wiig.

Roommates is a selection of deleted scenes with Matt Lucas and Rebel Wilson as Annie’s eccentric roommates.

Cholodecki’s is a selection of deleted scenes and a gag commercial centering on the jewelry store where Annie worked.

Drunk-O-Rama (4:21) is a collection of alternate takes of Kristen Wiig acting inebriated on the airline.

Pep Talk (2:41) is a quick selection of alternate takes of the tennis match.

Annie vs. Helen (7:29) is yet another collection of deleted scenes with Kristen Wiig and Rose Byrne.

Hold On (4:31) is the full performance from Wilson Phillips at the end of the movie.

Also included is the self-explanatory Gag Reel (9:41) and the Apatow specialty Line-O-Rama (12:13), which is a reel of alternate lines. You’ll also get a collection of deleted, extended, and alternate scenes, a DVD version of the film, and a code for a digital copy download.

Film Value: 7
Symptomatic of other Apatow pictures, Bridesmaids runs over two hours, which is about fifteen to twenty minutes too long for a comedy. Despite some much needed trimming, Bridesmaids is funny, insightful, and stands as one of the best comedies of the year.
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