Bridesmaids: Paul Feig’s Femme-Driven Comedy, Starring Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph

Paul Feig’s new comedy, “Bridesmaids,” could easily have been retitled as “Girls Just Wanna Have Some Fun.”  Joining forces with vet comedy producer Judd Apatow (“Knocked Up,” “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”),  Feig has made a femme-driven comedy, perhaps motivated by the fact that most of the genre items (not just Apatwo’s) still revolve around men, or rather immature men.

The premise, which I’ll describe in a second, is workable, but the main problem is that Feig, the exec-creator of television’s “Freaks and Geeks,” treats his material as a sit com and his approach is more suitable for the small screen.

Though centering on women, the format of the film is similar to that of the male-oriented comedy. Once again, we have a couple, here cast by. Kristen Wiig (TV’s “Saturday Night Live”) who plays Annie, a maid of honor, who leads her closest friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph of “Away We Go” and SNL) on a road to matrimony.

At its heart, “Bridesmaids” is a fable-comedy about a single idea: what really happens when best friends meet the wildest bridesmaids. Indeed, the ensemble movie offers half a dozen good roles for women, and that in itself is an achievement.

When we first meet Annie, we immediately grasp the “lack: factor, namely, that something is missing from her life, which keeps coming up short—she’s lovelorn and broke.

Things change, when Annie discovers that best friend Lillian is engaged, and her new duty is to serve as her maid of honor.  Thus, she begins to immerse herself into all of the required rites and rituals of that (all-consuming) process.  Among other things, the chores involve getting to know the other ladies in the bridal party, including one particular rival, who is better poised to fulfill all the duties that Annie struggles through.

As expected, the road is replete with obstacles and disasters, which get worse as Annie goes along. Indeed, slowly but surely, the four “strangers” begin to shake up her life, which was not that stable to begin with, in unanticipated ways.

In real life, c0-scribes and longtime friends Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo had met years ago at The Groundlings, the Los Angeles-based improv troupe where they wrote sketches with one another.  Mumolo and Wiig began writing the script in 2006 after Wiig had been on SNL for about a year.

The writers deserve credit for taking an idea and emotion–jealousy–which is more suitable for drama and melodrama than comedy–and making a sporadically entertaining movie, in which the characters are not as stereotypical and narrowly defined as those in comedies written by men.   Here is a movie by women and about women that women viewers (and perhaps some men too) can relate to more easily than is the norm.

The tale, which unfolds as a series of adventures and disasters of a disgruntled, delinquent bridesmaid, goes out of its way to separate itself from two other subgenres, the formulaic romantic comedy and the wedding picture, types of films that have saturated the market over the past half a decade.

The filmmakers have tried to make a ballsy comedy that celebrates how women really talk to and interact with one another.  It tries to relate—not always in a poignant or funny mode–what it’s like to be a bridesmaid, the good and the beautiful,  the down and dirty.

“Bridesmaids” is an honorable but not entirely successful effort at producing a grittier version of Hollywood formulaic wedding pictures, where everyone’s hair is perfect and everyone looks good and has cute stories.

“Bridesmaids” serves as a star vehicle for the talented Wiig, who reveals ease and facility with both verbal and physical comedy.  You may recall her brief but memorable role in “Knocked-Up,” as Katherine Heigl’s undermining colleague.  But “Bridesmaid” is HER movie. At this juncture of her career, she is ready to assume a more prominent role as a comedienne in both indie and mainstream movies.