Bride Wars, Made Of Honour, 27 Dresses: the bargain bins at your local DVD store are full to busting with wedding-themed rom-coms.
Chances are, though, that they don’t begin with their heroines having rampant rumpy with Mad Men’s Jon Hamm in a wide variety of positions.
They’re not likely to feature someone dropping the c-bomb, shitting in the street or puking on hair. Nor, if memory serves, do they include a scene in which a woman likens her undercarriage to a triple-decker sandwich.
Offended? Not to worry – there’ll be another Kate Hudson vehicle along any minute. Yet for those who don’t mind raunch dressing on their wedding cake, say hi to Bridesmaids: a gleefully crude addition to the Judd Apatow canon that proves beyond reasonable doubt you don’t need to be hung to have a Hangover.
There’s arguably something a little tokenist about Hollywood’s reigning comedy king magnanimously extending his patronage to the gentler sex, after spending most of the last decade turning the likes of Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill into slacker superstars. But it would be unfair to regard Paul Feig’s pic as if it were some belated afterthought. The Judd juggernaut may well have been motored by man-child tomfoolery but it hasn’t lacked the essential infusions of eye-catching oestrogen.
Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids’ star and co-writer, is a case in point, having got her first big-screen break in Knocked Up, as Katherine Heigl’s bitchy co-worker. (Since then she’s also had cameos in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Apatow productions both.)
Rose Byrne has reason to be grateful too, her off-kilter casting in Get Him To The Greek as slutty rock-chick Jackie Q, opening up a whole new career path for the Troy and Damages actress.
Consider this latest offering, then, as the entrée to those earlier hors d’oeuvres. It may have been a while coming, but that doesn’t make it any less tasty.
It’s Wiig, by the way, who has that clinch with Don Draper, an extended bout of coitus that guarantees from the off you get some bang for your buck. No sooner has Jon had his fun, however, than Wiig is out on her ear – par for the course for luckless Annie, a failed baker reduced to sharing a house with two chubby siblings (Aussie Rebel Wilson and our own Matt Lucas) and hawking trinkets in Milwaukee’s version of H. Samuel.
Annie’s lot looks even sadder once her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) announces she’s tying the knot and insists on her being Pippa to her Kate.
Cue a string of prenuptial prerequisites – engagement bash, gown fittings, hen weekend – seemingly designed to show up her inadequacy, especially when set against Lillian’s über-wealthy new gal pal Helen (Byrne) and her polished ease with espousal etiquette.
Girls behaving badly
Given the Tinseltown tendency to fetishise every clichéd aspect of the marital experience, Bridesmaids’ suggestion that matrimony is more an accumulation of inconvenient social obligations is positively revolutionary.
Yet this is as radical as Feig’s film gets, the seasoned TV helmer getting most of his yuks by attributing archetypally “male” signifiers – boorishness, drunkenness, sexual licentiousness – to his female characters and cranking up the Annie-Helen rivalry at every opportunity. Party toasts, tennis, bridal shower gifts – it’s all one big catfight for this adversarial pair. Hmm: maybe we’re not so far away from Bride Wars after all.
The big difference, of course, is that this film is funny – a testament not only to Wiig’s tireless willingness to make a plank of herself (the electric-gate gag is priceless), but also to game co-stars who take visible pleasure pushing the taste envelope.
The standout here is Melissa McCarthy, a rotund bundle of coarse impropriety who, as mannish, debauched vulgarian Megan, goes all out to be this flick’s Zach Galifianakis.
Rudolph has her moments too, the Saturday Night Live stalwart bringing enough kooky vivaciousness to Lillian to ensure she’s no mere passenger in the ensuing craziness.
OK, so the other two bridesmaids – harassed housefrau Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey) and mousy newlywed Becca (Ellie Kemper) – rather get lost in the crush. And don’t even ask about the groom: he scarcely gets a credit, let alone a line.
Chris O’Dowd fares better as Officer Rhodes, a traffic cop who becomes Annie’s confidante and boyfriend over the course of a leisurely two and a bit hours. It is worth noting, though, that his role – needy, kindly, easily wounded – is very much the “girl” part in this gender-reversed confection.
Sisters might be doing it for themselves this time out, but you don’t have to dig too deep to find a stereotype.
Watch the trailer
It’s uneven, unwieldy and overlong, but if it’s yucks you’re after you’ll find them in abundance in a side-splitting comedy that lifts the veil on every wedding’s unsung heroines.