There’s a little something for everyone in the new comedy “Bridesmaids.”
Women will surely connect with the nearly all-female cast, full of vibrant and empowered characters who don’t play to stereotypes.
It might have a chick flick center, but this is a guy’s film as well - featuring some raunchy moments and gross-out gags that rival anything from a Judd Apatow film (It should be noted Apatow served as a producer here).
“Saturday Night Live” alum Kristen Wiig stars and also co-wrote the screenplay. She plays Annie, a 30-year-old slacker who is asked by her best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph), to be her maid of honor.
Annie accepts but quickly realizes the duty might be more than she bargained for. Her biggest problem is fellow bridesmaid Helen (Rose Byrne), who seems to be determined to take the best friend mantle from Annie.
As the two compete to one-up each other for Lillian’s friendship, Annie takes the most damage - watching her already messy life unravel even more.
Wiig has shown an ability to get laughs on “SNL,” even though I think she has kind of worn out her welcome on that show. But Wiig is in her element here, playing a character who highlights her comedic strengths.
Wiig also deserves credit for playing a character who is pretty much a sad sack. There’s nothing glamorous about Annie and as her downward spiral increases, Wiig is willing to be the butt of the joke - resulting in some of the film’s funniest moments.
There is plenty of great supporting work as well.
Jon Hamm gets a lot of laughs playing Annie’s on-again, but mostly-off again, love interest. And Chris O’Dowd is really good as another possible love interest - an Irish cop who becomes Annie’s confidant.
But the breakout star could be Melissa McCarthy (best known for TV’s “Mike and Molly”). She plays Megan, sister of the groom and one of the bridesmaids, and attacks the role with a take-no-prisoners, get-the-laugh-any-way-possible gusto. Megan’s character could have easily been a throwaway role that becomes the obvious butt of jokes, but McCarthy gives her a quirky spark that really allows her to shine. It’s one of the funniest performances of the year.
The performance also makes it easy to overlook some minor flaws in “Bridesmaids.” The film is probably about 20 minutes too long and not every gag plays as well as it should have.
Still, I found myself laughing a lot during “Bridesmaids.” It might not quite be the female version of “The Hangover” as others have suggested, but it is pretty close.
DVD dandy of the week
This week’s dandy is “The Mechanic” (B-) - a bare bones, meat and potatoes action film that never strays far from familiar territory. As a result, it succeeds at being a mildly entertaining diversion.
Jason Statham stars as Arthur Bishop, an elite killer who specializes in assassinations that need to look like accidents.
When he is assigned to kill his close friend and mentor (Donald Sutherland), Bishop reluctantly accepts the job. But things get complicated when the mentor’s black sheep son named Steve (Ben Foster) returns looking to avenge his father’s murder.
Bishop decides to take Steve under his wing and teach him the profession without revealing that he is in fact the person Steve is trying to find.
Statham has had a spotty track record, but he’s the kind of actor who has shown he can be just fine when given the right material. “The Mechanic” proves to be just that, a vehicle that plays to Statham’s strengths - allowing him to be that broody, angry action hero he excels at playing.
Foster is also very good here, the perfect choice for the hot-headed mentor with his own troubles. This young actor continues to build a solid resume (including “The Messenger” and “3:10 to Yuma”) and shows that he is capable of branching out into a solid action star as well if he chooses.
Director Simon West is capable too, capturing the moody, gritty core of the story with some intense (and somewhat implausible) action sequences. The highlight is an assassination attempt in a high rise that ends with the two leads scaling down the building while dodging bullets. It’s an intense sequence that delivers enough thrills to make you forget how silly the whole thing actually is.
I will concede that the screenplay is pretty standard. It’s so predictable you can pretty much map out every plot twist at least two or three steps before it happens.
“The Mechanic” may be predictable, but it is certainly never uninteresting. That is more than you can say for many of the action films released so far in 2011. It may not be a film that has any lasting impact, but it is one that satisfies audiences trying to get their action fix.
“The Mechanic” is rated R for strong brutal violence throughout, language, some sexual content and nudity and is now available on DVD.