The obvious comparison for Bridesmaids would seem to be The Hangover, the film that's become the touchstone for movie comedy in the 21st century.
Except that Paul Feig's Bridesmaids, from a script by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, is less of a story about a group than it is about one woman - and how she interacts with her group.
But here's what makes the comparison so tempting: Like The Hangover, Bridesmaids is a wedding-based comedy that's really funny.
Unlike The Hangover, however, Bridesmaids is a Judd Apatow production. And like all Apatow films, it's probably 20 minutes too long. (Except for Funny People, which was an hour too long.)
And, unlike The Hangover, Bridesmaids also has its dark, quiet side. Thanks to the script by Wiig and Mumolo, this is a character study of a woman whose life is spiraling out of control - and she knows it. Feig isn't afraid to take a quiet moment or two and let them be poignant.
(Unintended poignance is another matter. The late Jill Clayburgh, who died last November, shows up here playing Wiig's mother.)
Wiig plays Annie, first seen being humped vigorously by the wittily caddish Jon Hamm, who doesn't notice (or care) that his partner isn't exactly enjoying herself. The next morning, he chases her out ("I don't know how to tell you that I want you to leave without sounding like a dick," he says, with a smile) and she winds up having breakfast coffee with her best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph).
Lillian, of course, is appalled that Annie would make herself available for a booty call, which Annie refers to as "an adult sleepover." "Really - and did he 'sleepover' in your mouth?" Lillian responds.
Annie's life seems to have lost traction. A resident of Milwaukee, she once owned a cake bakery, but got swamped by the recession and lost the business. Now she works behind the counter at a jewelry store, where she can't help letting her own disillusionment with romance come through when she's selling engagement rings to a happy couple.
Then Lillian announces that her longtime boyfriend Doug has popped the question - and she wants Annie, her lifelong friend, to be her maid of honor. Which is fine - until Annie shows up at the engagement party thrown by Doug's boss at a fancy country club in Chicago. There, she meets Helen (Rose Byrne), Doug's boss' wife - and someone who ferociously wants to be Lillian's new best friend. As such, she's also threatening Annie's hold on the job of maid of honor.
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