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Bridesmaids **1/2

Is it worth $10? Yes

Thank goodness it’s funny.

“Bridesmaids” is too long, one-dimensional, predictable and poorly told. But it’s a comedy, and it’s consistently funny, which means almost all is forgiven. Funny how the healing power of laughter works.

A de facto version of “The Hangover” for women, the cast is a mishmash of “Saturday Night Live” and “The Office” talent, highlighted by Kristen Wiig as the central character, Annie. She’s a mess. She thinks Ted (Jon Hamm) is going to commit to her, even though he tells her he only wants sex. She has no self-respect, is broke, hates her job and worse, is a terrible maid of honor for lifelong best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph). And because she’s so insecure, she’s worried about losing Lillian’s best friendship to the pretty and ultra-perfect Helen (Rose Byrne), who clearly has her eyes on maid-of-honor honors.

Rounding out the eclectic group of bridesmaids are Rita (Wendy McLendon-Covey), who’s miserably married with three bratty kids; newly married Becca (Ellie Kemper), who’s still woefully naïve; and Megan (Melissa McCarthy), who’s large and unrefined and gets the biggest laughs.

Director Paul Feig’s film doesn’t hold together well, as the script by Wiig and Annie Mumolo is really just a series of sketches putting the women in uncomfortable situations. As a result many scenes run far too long, to the point where 15-20 minutes of the two-hour plus movie should’ve been trimmed for pacing.

For example, the engagement party. Annie and Helen gives speeches professing their affection for Lillian, but each keeps going up after the other finishes to try to top what’s just been said. The first two times it happens, it’s funny. By the fifth time, shut up already. Also too long are the scene on the plane to Vegas, Annie trying to get Officer Rhodes’ (Chris O’Dowd) attention toward the end of the film, and numerous other moments. Annie also has two British roommates, Brynn (Rebel Wilson) and Gil (Matt Lucas), who serve no purpose and should have been cut from the film.

Thankfully, even though scenes run long almost all provide solid laughs, thanks largely to Wiig, who emerges here as a legitimate leading comedienne. Annie is pathetic, sure, but Wiig also makes her sympathetic, and does so in a way that’s constantly amusing. That said, Wiig also gets a lot of help from the supporting cast, particularly McCarthy, whose Megan owns her hefty size and sexuality. Not surprisingly, with the exception of Officer Rhodes the guys here are non-factors, which is fair considering how many male oriented raunchy comedies we’ve seen the last few years. It’s about time women got their turn.

Too bad producer Judd Apatow (“Knocked Up”) couldn’t help them find a more cohesive story to tell. “Bridesmaids” fails on a number of levels, but is that rarity that succeeds only on the most important level to which it aspires – it’s darn funny.

Did you know?
Two-time Oscar nominee Jill Clayburgh plays Annie’s mom. Clayburgh died in November 2010 after a 21-year battle with leukemia.

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