If for no other reason, go see Bridesmaids to witness the full flowering of Kristen Wiig. Known to Saturday Night Live fans for years, she has only bloomed recently in two films that almost nobody saw: Adventureland and Paul. In both, Wiig played women locked under layers of repression, making her momentary zany releases all the more funny and poignant. In Paul she went from born-again Christian to full-scale potty mouth after learning the cosmos has no center. In Bridesmaids she plays Annie, an unmated thirty-something woman who seems crazy funny until you realize she may actually be losing it. Her fragile manners keep splintering wider after each new pressure heaped upon her. Annie hits bottom and then finds a trapdoor. There’s a surreal quality to it, too, as she throws herself into unthinkably low faux pas, competing with the perfect Helen (Rose Byrne) in a ridiculous bout of one-upmanship. When she finally erupts at a fancy bridal shower, you wonder where her character might possibly go for any comic redemption.
Produced by Judd Apatow, Bridesmaids is supposed to be a reply to all the criticisms he has earned for featuring weak females in every film he’s made since Knocked Up. Written by Wiig, this does feel pitched to the female ear: At first, the biggest laughs come when Wiig and Maya Rudolph (who plays bride Lillian) do low girl talk, badmouthing men authoritatively. When Wiig does a penis impression, the audience howls. And the requisite Apatow gross-out scene at a gown fitting works well, too. Most Apatow-driven projects begin in the depths and end with sunshine and lollipops. Bridesmaids’ final scenes may strike you as conveniently sweet, but hey, it’s comedy.
And it’s very funny. Though director Paul Feig does not employ anything like cinematic technique, the film’s sheer nerve turns movie-going into a party. But the real star of the film is Wiig and her comic voice, strong enough to make a woman’s story not only touching and funny, but unapologetically vulgar, too.