What was set up by a rather deceptive trailer as a female centric version of The Hangover is in fact anything but. While it may include a similar degree of wacky, gross out comedy and strange plot points, Bridesmaids is essentially a romantic comedy.
Not only was the trailer deceptive, but the title is also. Instead of a group of bridesmaids being the focus it centres on one bridesmaid, Annie (Kristen Wiig), a romantically unattached, failed bakery owner who fears she is losing her BFF Lillian (Maya Rudolph) after she announces her engagement. Annie’s worries deepen as Lillian grows close to Helen (Rose Byrne), a wealthy and beautiful new friend who takes over control of wedding planning. As well as a struggling female friendship Annie’s romantic life is also problematic. At the beginning of the film she is stuck with the ignorant Ted (Jon Hamm), but she is rescued by the charming police officer Rhodes (Chris O’Dowd) who falls for her. As the low self esteem Annie sabotages this new possibility for love, she also feels the most important friendship in her life slipping away.
The problem, from the off, is that although an hour of the film is dedicated to introducing the characters and setting up a disappointing narrative it remains incredibly difficult to care for the characters, especially the protagonist. Something that The Hangover had achieved in a shorter amount of time and to a much greater degree. Surprisingly the most realistic character in the film is also the most horrid. Rose Byrne is quite literally a rose among thorns not only as the best looking actress, but with a standout performance as Helen whose false smiles and bitchiness would rival the meanest of girls.
When constructing a scene a screenwriter it is taught to enter a scene late and leave early, unfortunately in this case the writer achieves neither and it takes a very long time for the characters to do anything or get anywhere. Epitomised by one scene where two competing bridesmaids attempt to one up the other’s speech. The tension and bitchiness is instantly achieved and it is rewarded with laughs, but as the scene continues to plod along with joke after joke being crowbarred in all effectiveness is lost and the audience is left craving to move on. This isn’t the only occurrence in this film as most scenes quickly become annoying and tiring, all of which results in a sluggish pace.
Firmly established in British television and recognised immediately from fans of Channel Four’s sitcom The IT Crowd, comedy actor Chris O’Dowd brings all the sarcasm and awkwardness of his former role. Although it is instantly obvious what role he will play, a charming knight in shining armour, his performance as police officer Nathan Rhodes is a very good one. Unlike the majority of the characters he is liked straight away and provides a much more gentle approach to the comedy. However his greatest problem is his struggle with subduing his normally thick Irish accent, which results in an unconvincing and confusing Irish American accent.
For the most part the jokes are funny, but without characters worth caring about and a slow, uninteresting narrative they aren’t enough to rescue this film; Bridesmaids doesn’t match up against this year’s comedies.