Kristen Wiig turns in a fine comic performance as a disgruntled wedding helper
FLIGHT RISK: Kristen Wiig hits some turbulence in 'Bridesmaids.' Photograph by Suzanne Hanover

IT IS about time Kristen Wiig of Saturday Night Live got a chance to show her superiority as a comic performer. Bridesmaids gives us Wiig at her most comically nonchalant: trying not to register everything going wrong as the desperation seeps out of her pores. Two endearing scenes: a mutant shuffle-off-to-Buffalo/voguing dance at a sobriety checkpoint; and when actually drunk (seriously impaired on pills and a quadruple Scotch), Wiig does a Eurotrash sashay to squeeze past a mean flight attendant who is guarding the first-class section. She hopes a pair of dark sunglasses will disguise her (she just tried to sneak in 45 seconds previously); in a Garbo drawl, she says, "I'm not me."

Whoever she is, Wiig is quite pretty. She's shaped like Jane Fonda. But with a series of defeated hairstyles, we can believe her as Annie, a Milwaukee woman going downhill. Her bakery went bankrupt, and her ex-boyfriend (Jon Hamm) uses her for sex. Suddenly, Annie's best pal, Lillian (Maya Rudolph), announces her impending marriage. Lillian also introduces a new gorgeous friend (Rose Byrne) who elbows Annie aside and takes charge of the wedding. The wedding planning becomes more pretentious, more expensive and ever more humiliating for Annie.

Judd Apatow was the executive producer for Bridesmaids, and it's shaped like an Apatow film: a half-hour too long, with eccentric morsels that don't advance the story. Released as a chick-flick alternative, the script requires the traditional pointless fight between Annie and her new man (Chris O'Dowd). This tactic sends the film into overtime—and there are frequent reboots of the story through sheer filler: helicopter shots of the town, accompanied by covers of '80s tunes. Milwaukee, a city pregnant with comedy, isn't seriously used for comic effect. A lot of the action seems to take place on the edge of town in the spinach fields. Still, there is fine support work by Matt Lucas and Rebel Wilson as Annie's sluglike housemates. Melissa McCarthy is excellent as a hulking yet sawed-off friend, whose theme idea for a bridal shower is Fight Club: "She shows up, and we beat the shit out of her." Wiig, who co-wrote, is better than anything in the movie. In her capacity to register degrees of comedic suffering, she suggests what happens when like when a movie is really loose down deep in its soul, and not just wobbly and formulaic.



Opens May 13

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