Bridesmaids, the film that was released ten years ago this week, was a watershed comedy for several different reasons:
It cemented Kristen Wiig as a comedy movie star and Paul Feig as a major director. It was Melissa McCarthy‘s breakthrough as a movie performer, and also featured memorable turns from the likes of Rose Byrne, Ellie Kemper, and Wendi McLendon-Covey.
And more than all that, Bridesmaids was groundbreaking because it put women in raunchy situations, unapologetically, and in a way that was funny and never pandering. The film also, in a rarity at the time for a studio comedy, actually acknowledged class differences, not only in making repeated note of its heroine not being as rich as many of the other characters but in making that a driving force of the humor.
…it put women in raunchy situations, unapologetically, and in a way that was funny and never pandering
Bridesmaids was one of those movies that was just a really great idea for a movie. Who, after all, hasn’t been part of a wedding in which different members of the wedding party were at each other’s throats? And if not that, a wedding involving people from different parts of the bride or groom’s life who had nothing in common with each other, thrown together for several events in a short period of time?
The film, Feig’s third as a director but the first to be a hit, was co-written by Wiig and Annie Mumulo, who would go on to star together a decade later in Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar.Judd Apatow was a producer, as he was with so many other comedies at that time.
A Quick Recap
Bridesmaids starred Wiig, then still a Saturday Night Live cast member, as Annie, a woman who at the start of the film has been dumped by a boyfriend and lost her bakery business. She’s working in a jewelry store ― where she can’t stop insulting the customers ― and is in a casual relationship with an asshole (Jon Hamm, in a rare standout movie performance).
When Annie’s lifelong best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) gets engaged, Annie is thrown into the marathon pre-wedding process, where she instantly finds herself jealous of Lillian’s newer, prettier, richer friend Helen (Rose Byrne).
The other members of the wedding party have great backstories too, including McLendon-Covey’s Rita, who speaks constantly of her three hellion teenaged boys, and Kemper’s Becca, who’s young and married. And the film had four or five really strong set pieces, including one set aboard a plane.
But the true standout was Melissa McCarthy as the groom’s foul-mouthed and aggressive sister, a role so well-received that earned her an Oscar nomination and kicked off a decade-long run as a movie star, including in several films directed by Feig (those ones tend to be funnier than the ones made by her husband, Ben Falcone).
Most of the principals of Bridesmaids have had their ups and downs in the decade since, with Feig, McCarthy, and Wiig all part of the lightly-regarded Ghostbusters remake, and Wiig playing the villain in last year’s Wonder Woman 1984, before rebounding earlier this year with Barb and Star.
There were quite a few things I noticed on a length anniversary rewatch. Why didn’t I remember that Tim Heidecker was the groom, in a nearly non-speaking role? Then there’s that Bill Cosby joke, which either has aged poorly, or very well, depending on your perspective.
Bridesmaids, nevertheless, remains a funny and rewatchable comedy, one that holds up much better than most of the earlier Apatow-produced raunch comedies.