It’s been showered in critical praise and considered the runaway hit of the year, so if you missed it in cinemas, check out this week’s Blu-ray release of Bridesmaids…after you’ve read our review below!
Annie (Kristen Wiig), is a maid of honour whose life unravels as she leads her best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph), and a group of colourful bridesmaids (Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Ellie Kemper) on a wild ride down the road to matrimony. Annie’s life is a mess. But when she finds out her lifetime best friend is engaged, she simply must serve as Lillian’s maid of honour. Though lovelorn and broke, Annie bluffs her way through the expensive and bizarre rituals. With one chance to get it perfect, she’ll show Lillian and her bridesmaids just how far you’ll go for someone you love…
Bridesmaids is a film that plays things simply. The comedy harks back to the golden years of pratfalls and physical humour, whilst the narrative is resplendent with sharp jokes that hit the right mark. The film takes inspiration from the series of ‘buddy’ movies that have proved popular with male cinemagoers since the late 1980s and proves that this subgenre comedy genre can transplant extremely well to a film that is predominantly aimed at female audiences. However, whilst Bridesmaids is arguably a female answer to buddy films like The Hangover, it’s by no means a movie that men can’t enjoy.
The film is essentially a character driven blend of comedy and drama, with a very well written script that transcends the boundaries of a typical romantic comedy and generates laughs out of simple setups. There’s an excellent blend of lowbrow, rather puerile comedy (for example, the hilariously cringe worthy food poisoning sequence in the bridal shop!) and sharp, witty humour (Annie and Helen’s battling speeches at the engagement party). The majority of the movie’s comedy is born out of the tension between Annie and Helen in their efforts to prove a better friend to bride to be, Lillian. The bitchiness and underhand tactics to outdo each other are extreme at times and help keep audiences cracking up uncontrollably.
Despite the emphasis on comedy, Bridesmaids is actually far more than a simple humorous film about a group of girlfriends. Merged with the rip-roaring jokes and physical slapstick is a heart-warming film about friendship, relationships and life in general. At the centre of the narrative is Annie’s burgeoning relationship with police officer Nathan Rhodes (Chris O’Dowd) and his positive impact upon her life (she finds her passion for baking again when he encourages her not to give up despite the failure of her cake shop). Amongst this, Annie and Lillian’s friendship is put to the test via the former’s conflict with Helen. As the game of one-upmanship becomes increasingly ridiculous, a wedge is driven further between Annie and Lillian. As somebody who has recently experienced the pressures and stresses of preparing for a wedding, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have any time for bickering friends, so Annie and Lillian’s bust up shines through as a moment of reality in a film that is compiled from a series of absurd sequences. The film continues to build momentum as the narrative proceeds, mixing moments of comedy with drama to come to a hilarious but touching crescendo in the final act.
As the film is so character based, performances are incredibly strong here. Comedienne/Writer Kristen Wiig takes the central role of Annie and brings a perfect amount of awkward, almost nerdiness to the character to make her immediately likeable and sympathetic. Things haven’t gone right for her in the past and it’s obvious that life works against her at almost every turn. She’s lost her business, she has a relationship with a jerk who wants her for meaningless sex alone and her life has only just begun on its downward spiral, but Wiig refrains from turning Annie into a bitter and twisted shrew and instead keeps her level headed and humorous throughout. Maya Rudolph as her childhood best friend Lillian is her usual expressive self, giving a physical and emotive performance that heightens the comedy. The actress proves she’s just as adept at the more tender and dramatic sequences as she is at making audiences laugh.
Rose Byrne plays Lillian’s new best friend and Annie’s rival with delicious malice, relishing in upstaging Annie at every given opportunity. Byrne is excellent at capturing Helen’s innate bitchiness, whilst developing the character enough to not make her completely unlikeable. It’s obvious that Helen is lonely and has resorted to game playing through boredom, so Byrne manages to instil her with a certain sense of sympathy. As Megan – the rather masculine and totally unrefined sister of the groom – Melissa McCarthy is pure comedy gold! Megan is vulgar and downright disgusting at times, but McCarthy makes her hilarious with her sharp wit and total lack of shame. The airplane sequence, in particular, is immense as Megan relentlessly tries to seduce the undercover Air Marshall she is sitting next to: viewers will undoubtedly have tears rolling down their eyes!
Chris O’Dowd is a streak of sanity amongst all the female shenanigans in the narrative and proves that why he may not necessarily be your typical romantic leading man, he can still pull it off. O’Dowd gives a performance that is both humorous and emotive, helping pull Annie out of her downward spiral whilst also keeping the audience chuckling. There’s a brilliantly awkward scene after the couple have finally slept together and Rhodes’ intentions to get Annie to start baking backfire and seem a little creepy rather than sweet. O’Dowd manages to tone down – but still transplant – his slightly geeky persona from the IT Crowd to make Rhodes an extremely realistic and likeable character. Stellar support comes from a host of other actresses, including Wendi McLendon-Covey (as Lillian’s sex mad married friend Rita, who’s only out for an extra-marital fling!), Ellie Kemper (as Becca, Lillian’s newly married friend who is still within the honeymoon period of a marriage that is sure to break down) and Jill Clayburgh (as Annie’s AA sponsoring mother, who too freely reveals information about those she shouldn’t, to hilarious effect!). Also look out for some riotous cameos from Little Britain star Matt Lucas as Annie’s landlord!
The visual quality of the Blu-ray release is very strong, with crystal clear images that are free from any distracting or overly noticeable grain throughout. Colour clarity is excellent and the overall tone of the film is vibrant and sharp. There’s a clever distinction between the opulence of Helen’s upper-class surroundings (the circle Lillian is essentially marrying in to) and the more humble environment that Annie resides in. The engagement and bridal shower parties that are held in Helen’s environs are resplendent with deep, rich golds and other sumptuous hues, whereas Annie’s apartment and other surroundings are bathed in starker, less lavish tones. Definition is superb, with even the finest details clearly visible and this again helps to distinguish between the two realms that feature so heavily in the narrative. The audio quality is similarly solid, with dialogue always remaining clean and clear. The ambient sound never drowns out dialogue, while the soundtrack happily meanders through the plot, complementing the on screen action.
The array of supplementary material that accompanies the film is very strong, with a good mix of featurettes, behind the scenes footage and additional hilarity (care of some deleted scenes and outtakes). The Blu-ray and DVD both contain the theatrical and extended cuts of the film, but in addition to this, viewers will find the following bonus material on the Blu-ray edition:
• Theatrical Feature Commentary with Director Paul Feig, Co-Writer Annie Mumolo and Cast Members Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McClendon-Covey & Ellie Kemper.
• Made of Honour: Behind the Scenes of Bridesmaids Featurette.
• Gag Reel
• Line-O-Rama – Outtakes focusing on individual characters.
• Made of Honour: Behind The Scenes of Bridesmaids
• Blind Date Deleted Scenes – Blind Date with Dave & Dave-O-Rama (Outtakes from the scene)
• Deleted Scenes – Shrimp Fork, Bonjour, Annie & Judy, Different Friends, Shit Show, Big Things.
• Extended & Alternate Scenes:- Ted Sex, The Morning After, Boot Camp, Judy On Barb, Motorboat, Bird Bath, Meet The Bridesmaids, Dueling Toasts:- Alt 1, Alt 2, Crazy Old Broad, Ham Slacks, Becca Pukes Again, Bachelorette Phone Call, Shower Part 1 Alt, Car With Ted:- Half Hour, My Friend, Two Days a Week, Sex Tape
• Roommates Deleted & Extended/Alternate Scenes: Welcome Home, Annie Can’t Relax, Oo-laka Juice, Payback, Meet Gil & Brynn, Split the Rent, Breasts, Under the Table, Itchy Crotch, Annie Gets Kicked Out.
• Cholodecki’s Jewellery Store Deleted & Extended/Alternate Scenes – Personal Phone Call, Diamonds, Last Chance, Annie Insults Customers, Semi-Molested, The Longest Argument Ever.
• Pep Talk – Outtakes from the tennis game scene.
• Drunk Z-O-Rama – Outtakes from the drunken plane scene.
• Annie vs. Helen – Outtakes between Wiig and Byrne.
• Hold On – Full Song Performance.
Film: 4.5 out of 5
This hilarious, solidly written and well-played comedy is so multi faceted that there’s something to appeal to every viewer. Full of side- splitting, laugh out loud moments, as well as enough drama and heartfeltedness, Bridesmaids is a real winner!
Visuals: 4 out of 5
Images are clean and crisp throughout, with very little distortion or grain noticeable. Colours are bright and fresh, whilst the HD print gives the images an added sense of reality.
Audio: 4 out of 5
Dialogue is clear and always audible during the narrative, whilst background and ambient sound flows pleasantly through the various audio channels. This is a solid release in an audio sense, although nothing stands out as particularly exceptional.
Extras: 4.5 out of 5
The collection of outtakes, additional sequences, behind the scenes footage and featurettes housed on the release are informative and entertaining, as well as comprehensive.
Presentation: 4 out of 5
The key artwork from the original ad campaign is replicated here on the front cover, so the image is familiar rather than fresh. Menus are well designed and easy to navigate, offering viewers a glimpse of additional artwork as well.
Overall: 4.5 out of 5
Arguably the best comedy of the year, Bridesmaids has been given a release worthy of this accolade. Combining excellent visuals and audio with an engaging array of special features this is a release worth owning!
Bridesmaids is available now on Blu-ray and DVD.