Bridesmaids Blu-ray ReviewSeptember 19, 2011
Bridesmaids is a movie that reminds us that comedies can be foul, obnoxious, and dirty but still possess a heart.
It's a story that could easily have been dragged down into either melodrama or straight dick-and-fart humor. Instead, it skirts the line of both, presenting us with characters and situations that are both down-to-earth real and out-of-this-world funny.
The film stars Kristen Wiig (who also co-wrote the screenplay) as Annie, a thirty-something with a life that's less than glamorous. As the outset, she's a few years removed from a failed business venture, and a disastrous relationship, both of which result in her working a dead-end job with a pair of bizarre roommates.
With the dust still settling, Annie is asked by her best friend, Lily (Maya Rudolph), to be the maid of honor in her upcoming wedding. When she meets the assembled bridal party, though, she realizes she has more than she bargained for in the form of Helen (Rose Byrne), a wealthy socialite who is slowly starting to claim Annie's role in Lily's life.
Annie's journey of extending herself financially and emotionally to plan Lily's wedding is made all the more complicated by a budding romance with Rhodes (Chris O'Dowd) a local cop.
Along the way there are bouts with food poisoning (one of the grosser gross-out moments in recent memory), a drunken mid-flight outburst (Ben Stiller's similar in-flight freak out from Meet the Parents is put to shame... then again, Ben Stiller doesn't need much help being put to shame), and a wedding shower freak-out that all points to the crux of the story: Annie, in the midst of what could, at best, be called a pre-mid-life crisis, has no love for herself.
Bridesmaids is a movie that, if you were to remove all the jokes, could easily be one of the saddest movies I've ever seen. But Wiig, co-writer Annie Mumolo, manage to make the heartbreaking hilarious at every turn. There's never a point where they specifically point fun at Annie's various plights, but the storytelling is constructed in such a way that the entire film is a very cathartic experience.
The audience can see the real pain that accompanies Annie's many woes, but the lows are never so low that they can't generate a laugh.
Much of the marketing campaign surrounding this film made a big deal about comparing it to The Hangover, which is a fair comparison but really does Bridesmaids a disservice. Bridesmaids has all the sophomoric elements that made The Hangover such an enduring crowd-pleaser, but it also provides a nice grounding in reality.
The situations our characters find themselves immersed in are outrageous but not so outrageous as not to be believed.
However, as much as there are laughs to be discovered in this picture, the real discovery is Wiig herself. Her bit part in Knocked Up along with much of her work on Saturday Night Live is enough to prove that she can deliver laughs, but Bridesmaids puts her on display as an actress who can convey real depth and true emotion in places where they might not be expected.
The real levity in the film is brought about by her budding romance with Rhodes, and both Wiig and O'Dowd take what would be very connect-the-dots material in the hands of other performers and make it something more.
The outcome is never in doubt (spoiler: against all odds they get together... whoda thunk it?), but Wiig's portrayal of a girl unwittingly determined to sabotage herself and O'Dowd's performance as the guy who sees something more, even if she doesn't, is charming and delightful in spite of its derivative nature.
In terms of the supporting cast, there have been very few assemblies of funnier women on film in recent years. Rudolph often winds up playing the straight man in many scenes, but gets in a few good lines.
The real treat, though, is Emmy-winner Melissa McCarthy as Megan, the bride's sister-in-law-to-be. McCarthy infuses Megan with a perfect counterpoint to Annie. Megan is confident (about what, she never seems to be sure) and gives not so much as a passing thought to the consequences of her actions.
And on top of the intellectual, artsy-fartsy actor stuff, she's funny as hell when it comes to the potty humor. Some of the funniest fart jokes to be committed to celluloid in recent years belong to McCarthy in this movie. Unfortunately, the Academy doesn't have a category for that.
As much as the movie is surprisingly moving, it does have its faults. Many of the exchanges between Annie and Helen are a little predictable. While it's refreshing to see it all played with such humanity, the subplot of one-upmanship and inadequacy between new and old best friends is a little played at this point.
And Byrne's portrayal of Helen swings a little toward the robotic side. Granted, that's what the character calls for in many regards, but Byrne goes a little too cold in some moments – the audience finds itself not so much hating the character as annoyed by her.
Universal's AVC-4 1080p encoded visual presentation of Bridesmaids is quite impressive. Skin tones for this film are among the finest I've yet seen in any film presented on Blu-ray, and the colors are remarkably life-like without being overwhelming. Some of the night time scenes have some problems with images losing definition the closer to the black end of the spectrum they stray, but overall this is an excellent visual transfer.
In the sound department, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is excellent, providing a great balance of dialogue and ambiance. Party scenes come to life with ever-present but never-overpowering background noise, and every line of dialogue is crisp and clear. As for the aforementioned food-poisoning scene, the lifelike sounds of the ...um... nastier bodily functions presented are disturbingly lifelike (believe it or not, that's a compliment).
Beyond the Feature
Universal has brought Bridesmaids to Blu-ray with a ridiculous amount of special features to look through which, for a change, are all worth checking out.
First of all, the disc comes loaded with both the theatrical cut and an unrated version, which runs about three minutes longer. Ultimately, the two versions are fairly indistinguishable from one another.
Gag Reel (10 minutes) – It's the standard-issue modern-era comedy gag reel that you pick up immediately after being assigned a rank and serial number, but that doesn't mean it's not really funny.
Line-O-Rama (12 minutes) – A staple of seemingly all Judd Apatow-produced films' aftermarket releases, this is a collection of clips that allows this extremely talented cast to show off its improvisational skills.
Made of Honor: Behind the Scenes of Bridesmaids (31 minutes) – This is probably the most surprising bonus feature, inasmuch as it delivers a bit more detail and insight than your standard studio comedy "making of" featurette.
Blind Date – This is a feature that's actually broken up into two parts. First up is a cut scene featuring Paul Rudd (another Apatow regular) going on a blind date with Annie that runs about five minutes. Next is Dave-O-Rama, a little over a minutes' worth of Rudd's improvised takes that's almost as hilarious as the feature film itself.
Deleted Scenes (9 minutes) – Here's another rarity: deleted scenes that are actually worth checking out. All are presented with a great sense of context, although it's pretty clear about why they were taken out. An interesting look at the road not taken.
Extended and Alternate Scenes (50 minutes) – All I'm gonna say is this: Watch every minute of this feature. I mean it. Do it. You'll laugh at least one part of your body clean off. Great stuff.
Roommates (19 minutes) – There's a ton of cut stuff here from a subplot involving Annie's roommates that, frankly, is funny enough to support its own feature-length production.
Cholodecki's (30 minutes) – More cut or extended footage, this time stemming from the jewelry store where Annie works. The back-and-forth between Wiig and an obnoxious teenage shopper is pure comedy gold.
Drunk-O-Rama (5 minutes) – More improv, this time with Wiig showing off her skills in the earlier-mentioned drunk scene on the plane.
Pep Talk (3 minutes) – This is a handful of outtakes from a tennis match between Annie and Helen. Very, very funny stuff and well worth a look.
Annie vs. Helen (7 minutes) – More extended footage, this time highlighting some great back-and-forth between Wiig and Byrne.
Hold On (5 minutes) – A full-length performance of Wilson Phillips belting out their signature tune, which plays a big part in the movie.
Feature Commentary – Wiig and the rest of the cast deliver a commentary that imparts about as much filmmaking wisdom as a Kevin Smith commentary track, but is funny and energetic enough to warrant a listen.
Questions like "Was Bridesmaids funnier than The Hangover?" are ones I try to avoid. In fact, rating comedies against one another is nebulous, subjective and, in my mind, pointless.
Funny is funny, and when it can find balance with emotion, it's gold.
I don't know where Bridesmaids fits into the historical context of motion picture comedies. I only know that it worked for me in a big, bad way.
- Jason Jarman
Shop for Bridesmaids on Blu-ray and DVD combo pack for a discounted price at Amazon.com (September 20, 2011 release date).
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