This past weekend was what we could feasibly call a “weekend of the arts.” Friday saw us at the Ahmanson Theatre to catch God of Carnage before its run ended. Short answer: good show, very shouty, very actor-y. All involved did very well, but Jeff Daniels (!) almost stole the show out from the rest of them. The guy behind us was drunk and farted. The magic of the proscenium!
On Saturday, we decided to see Bridesmaids, which is shaping up to be the sleeper R-rated comedy of the summer, like 40-Year-Old Virgin and The Hangover before it. (We’re aiming to see Hangover II this weekend.) I had heard quite a bit of good from the internet masses about the movie, so I had confidence going into it. And the verdict? It’s good, and has some great moments, but I’m not as into it as some have been.
The great moments were notable. The plane ride to Vegas, the conference at the Brazilian restaurant, and the dress fitting had nuggets of gold in them. And for those who’ve seen the movie, you’ll probably realize there’s a common thread amongst all those scenes: Melissa McCarthy.
There’s been considerable buzz around her performance in Bridesmaids, and she was not a letdown. Maybe the super-butch tough chick isn’t an original idea, but McCarthy is amazing with the character, stealing the movie from her first scene and never giving it back. It’s one of those performances where you don’t know where the script ends and the improv begins, but you want more of it. The film knows this as well, as she’s clearly the supporting character with the most screen time. (She shares a climactic scene with Kristen Wiig, and if I had to put money on it, I would say it was shot later and added in because the filmmakers knew they had a goldmine on their hands.) But she earns it; the first conversation where she recommends a Fight Club-themed party is hilarious.
On the subject of supporting roles, the other two actors who come out well are Chris O’Dowd and Jon Hamm. O’Dowd plays a cop that Wiig falls for. I hadn’t seen him in anything before this, and I want to see him in other roles. He plays the token “nice guy romantic interest” without being entirely too goody-goody. He’s got a sarcastic edge, and when the inevitable part comes where there’s conflict between him and Wiig, he actually plays hurt and defensive very well. And Jon Hamm embodies the “handsome asshole” part perfectly as Wiig’s douchebag booty call. I don’t know why, but for about 10 minutes of screen time, he’s completely uncredited. Don’t know if it’s a guild thing, or he just did it as a lark and refused credit, but he’s in the film for longer than some of the credited actors.
Which leads to one of my issues with the film: some of those supporting roles are too small. I’m namely speaking of Ellie Kemper and Wendy McClendon-Covey (what’s with all the Irish in this film?). Kemper plays the virginal, Disney-loving nice bridesmaid, and WMC is the burnt-out mother of three who wants to bring coke to Vegas. They have some funny moments, especially their scene together on the plane to Vegas, but after that they basically drop out of the movie. Even Rose Byrne, ostensibly the villain of the film, seems a little underused. And, as Justin would argue, why underuse Rose Byrne?
My other main issue with the film seems paradoxical given my last complaint of character underuse, but the film seemed a bit too long. Looking at its listing on the AMC Theatres website, it’s over two hours long. Now, it’s not law that a comedy needs to clock in under 90 minutes, but they usually come in around 100 or so minutes due to pacing. I think there’s some overindulgence with some of the scenes, and they went on for too long. As much as I enjoyed McCarthy in the plane sequence, it’s a sizable chunk of the film, and some of the bits with Wiig fucked up on anti-anxiety meds there went on too long.
But there’s a lot to love about the film (McCarthy, Hamm, the general themes of losing your friends to marriage and getting your own shit together) despite these hiccups. It’s worth seeing, even if only for McCarthy’s scenes alone. And Wilson Phillips figures into the plot, so, good to see them getting a residual check.