By: Addison Wylie
There seems to be this overwhelming popularity with wedding comedies. With the success of The Hangover and other R-rated outings like Wedding Crashers, weddings and the events that revolve around them seem to be winners in the genre. As I write this review on Monday, May 16 and if we count Bridesmaids, there are currently three films playing in theatres that involve weddings (the aforementioned Bridesmaids, Something Borrowed, and Jumping the Broom). On top of that, all three marital comedies have a firm place in the box office top 10. Judging by the abundance of laughter in my screening of Bridesmaids, it’s safe to say these films aren’t going away anytime soon.
As I write this, I haven’t seen Something Borrowed or Jumping the Broom but I can comment on Director Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids.
Bridesmaids is very light on a conventional plot but the story that eventually comes into play involves Annie, played by Kristen Wiig, as she comes to terms with her best friend’s wedding. Annie’s best friend, Lillian, is played by Maya Rudolph.
Annie and Lillian have been attached at the hip ever since they were kids. Now, with Lillian marrying her perfect match Dougie, played by Tim Heidecker, Annie is thrown a couple of curveballs as she is introduced to Lillian’s new friends. Annie meets housewife Rita, played by Wendi McLendon-Covey, budding Fiancee Becca, played by Ellie Kemper, Dougie’s sister Megan, played by Melissa McCarthy, and Helen, the perfect BFF played by Rose Byrne. All these ladies, along with Annie, have been asked to participate in the wedding as bridesmaids. In order for the wedding to run smoothly, the bridesmaids start to spend a lot of time with each other in order to prepare for Lillian’s bachelorette party, the shower, and the wedding itself. However, the more time Annie spends with Helen, the more intimidated she feels as Annie realizes that there are more people in Lillian’s life other than her.
Wiig and friend Annie Mumolo wrote the script that starts off on a stellar foot. The film begins with scenes introducing Annie and Lillian’s friendship. Wiig and Rudolph play off of one another very well and are able to use improv to add a dash of characterization to the comedy while moving the film along. The scenes that shine are the ones featuring all six actresses interacting with one another. Like the introductory scenes, all six actresses are experienced with using improv to progress the story while giving the audience more of an understanding of the characters. Some of the supporting characters steal scenes as well. Annie lives with a sibling couple (played by Rebel Wilson and Matt Lucas) and the jokes that take place involving those three characters are very funny. As for individual scene-stelaers, McCarthy lays down memorable lines and Jon Hamm appears to deliver plenty of laughs.
Performances and writing aside, the comedy in these scenes also work because they are edited well. The cuts are quick and never meander. However, Editors William Kerr and Michael L. Sale slip up big time. As the films enters it’s second act, the scenes start to feel more like detached padding than jokes. In fact, the way the film is edited is the opposite of how it previously was. Each scene is relentlessly dragged out longer than it should be and shots linger on specific actors as they try to search for a punchline. 90% of the scenes featured in Bridesmaids feel as if they are four times the length than they should be. It’s tough to tell if this is the fault of Kerr and Sale or if the script is to blame. For instance, there are a number of jokes that take place in an airplane setting and it’s hard to decipher whether the scenes fail due to bad writing or incompetent editing.
With these lazily edited portions of the film, Bridesmaids feels as if its procrastinating. It’s as if Wiig and Mumolo know where the scene is headed and the writing duo knows who needs to say what in order for the film to move along, however, the writing team wants to create needless challenges. For instance, there’s a scene where Wiig and Byrne need to track someone down. They call on a friend for help. The logical way this scene would play out is that Wiig would confront the friend, exchange witty banter, find out an answer, and exit stage left. Instead, the friend ignores Annie which makes Annie want to fight for his attention. The audience is then subjected to a sequence of multiple sight gags that are humorous at first but quickly overstay their welcome because the punchlines are too similar to each other. This isn’t the only joke that falls victim to this flaw.
With all that said, these may be problems that could be slightly overlooked if the film had a short runtime. However, Bridesmaids clocks in at over two hours and that is unacceptable. If Kerr and Sale were able to trim down the prolonged sequences of jokes that overstay their welcome, the runtime could’ve easily been shaved off significantly.
Bridesmaids is undoubtably a funny movie. However, Bridesmaids had the potential to be much funnier. The film suffers greatly from the bloated runtime. Whether that blame falls on the editors or the script, this is definitely a learning experience for both parties. The writing team can be very funny but Wiig and Mumolo’s writing should be more direct in the future and not elongate the rising action to a climax. Once the two talented women accomplish this, they need to make sure their material won’t be botched in the editing bay by clumsy, inconsistent editors.