|Directed by:||Paul Feig|
|Written by:||Annie Mumolo, Kristen Wiig|
|Cast:||Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Chris ODowd, Ellie Kemper, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Melissa McCarthy, Matt Lucas, Jill Clayburgh, Rebel Wilson, Michael Hitchcock|
SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS!
Kristen Wiig, so funny in āAdventurelandā and āPaulā, and quite serious in the underrated āWhip Itā, co-wrote and stars in this Apatow produced film. As a fan of his films, including āFunny Peopleā (itās a damn good drama), who likes Wiig, and has heard great word-of-mouth reactions, I have to ask, does this movie live up to its potential? In a word, no; in a longer word fuck no. For more, continue reading.
Wiig, starring as failed bakery owner Annie, gives a go-for-broke performance that is funny, pitiful, sad, empathic, and enduring all at the same time. The scene where sheās proving to Chris OāDowdās Officer Rhodes that sheās not drunk by dancing on the side of the road is beyond delightful. Her passive aggressive tennis game with Helen (Rose Byrne) is also a lot of fun. She can also deliver strong emotion, which is highlighted in a scene where she tells her mother that she has hit the bottom.
As the bride Lillian, Maya Rudolph does a fine job, and itās obvious she and Wiig have a great friendship in real life, as that chemistry is instantly visible. In a scene where Rudolph is shitting in the street (I shit you not), her misery, but nonchalance and acceptance of what is happening is excellent.
Rose Byrne (Helen) is good as the proto-typical trophy wife/ controlling bitch, and her interactions with her step children are to die for. In a game of constant one-up manship with Annie, Helen brings the perfect balance of malice, condescension, and hatred (of herself).
The most consistently funny player, and absolute scene-stealer, is Sookie from āGilmore Girlsā, Melissa McCarthy. Every line was delivered with absolute gusto and total confidence. As a consequence, a character that could have easily been one note and irritating is one of the nicest and most likable in the whole film. Basically everything she did had me cracking the hell up.
Unfortunately, our other two bridesmaids get lost amongst everything else, and while neither actress, Ellie Kemper (as Becca) and Wendi McLendon-Covey (as cousin Rita) respectively, do a bad job, they have so little to do, I barely remember them. Our introduction to Becca is especially awkward in a trying too hard sort of way. Becca, a newlywed, is blabbing away, when she discovers that Annie doesnāt have a husband. Her reaction to this revelation is very bizarre, and not all that funny.
Chris OāDowd as Wiigās love interest is a total catch. Their chemistry is through the roof, and their relationship elevates the entire film. He keeps his accent, and there are some great lines about that, but my favorite scene is when he teaches Annie how to use a police scanner to detect the speed of the passing cars. That scene is played to perfection, and whenever OāDowd wasnāt onscreen, I really wanted him to be.
Jon Hamm has a bit role as an asshole fuck buddy of Annieās. He is hilarious. Heās so oblivious to how cruel and douchey he is to her itās funny. However, his character could have been cut from the film, and little would have changed. Which brings me to my biggest problem with this movie...
ā¦ the length of this movie! Itās a little over two hours, and sweet Christ on a cracker, does it ever feel it! Itās not just the movie, though, as a lot of jokes go on way too long as well. Before the tennis match, Annie and Helen are discussing how people change and grow as they get older, and debating if they stay the same person at their core. It starts off as genuinely funny, but after we hit the minute mark in this conversation it just became tedious. A final word/ toast/ mic fight at the engagement party is also something that starts off fantastically, but thanks to the editor falling asleep, goes for a good year too long. I get it, these two will try to outdo the other every step of the way. Move on, this is no longer funny! The ābreak-up sceneā of our two friends is at the bridal shower, and it makes sense for awhile, but once again, we go on way, way too long. By the time Annie is trying to push a huge fountain over, itās just become dumb. However, the worst culprit of being funny and then turning to the tedious side is the airplane scene. Annie is scared of flying, and Helen gives her something to help her calm down (more on that in a bit), and then proceeds to coax Annie into combining it with alcohol. Annieās medicated/ drunken bit in first class (where all but her are) where she just goes off the rails, and is āready to partyā is quite funny. The steward has to force her back to her seat. All well and good, but the next scene shows Annie wearing sunglasses and slinking back into first class. Groan! Didnāt we just see this?
So, after the big freakout, the plane makes an emergency landing to escort Annie, and her friends, off the plane. Guess who is the only person blamed for the freakout? Annie. Strictly her. Only her. Not a single other soul. No one else, ever, at all. āBut wait,ā Hypothetical Guy chimes in, ādidnāt you say Helen gave her something to calm her down on the plane?ā Congratulations! You were paying attention, and are not a total moron! To make matters worse, seated directly next to Helen is Lillian, who, after Annieās first outburst, asks Helen, āWhat did you give her?ā And if you think that might come to bite Helen in the ass later on, Iāll spare you the suspense. It doesnāt, like, at all!
What in the living hell, movie? Come the fuck on! We have a bride-to-be who has seen that Annie and Helen are vying for her affections, who knows that Helen gave something to Annie to (supposedly) ease the flight. Also, unless Lillian is the biggest idiot known to the whole universe, she could have (and really fucking should have) deduced that Helen gave Annie her whiskey (it might have been some other alcohol, and not whiskey, but I think it was). Helen gives Annie some medicine to calm her down, and Lillian is 100% aware of this (known fact A). Helen leaves first class, with a drink in her hand, to talk to Annie (known fact B), but comes back without one (known fact C). A few minutes later, Annie goes crazy, and then they all get kicked off the plane (known fact D). So, mathematically A+B+C could logically equal D. I just guess Lillian is the worst person on the planet at math. Thereās not a single reason in any universe, time, or realm, that Lillian didnāt follow up on her (unanswered) question to Helen about what she gave Annie, and where her (Helenās) drink went. Also, in the āHate Helenā column is this = we are never told what Helen gave Annie, so, what if Helen lied, and it was actually a stimulant? No, really guys, itās entirely conceivable that Helen would do something like that, and she has two teenage stepsons, and maybe they need something like Ritalin (strictly for example), which would make you go crazy and bounce off the walls if you donāt properly need it.
To compound this, throughout the film, Helen has been stealing Annieās ideas and passing them off as her own (the bridal shower is Paris themed, just as Annie wanted from the beginning, but Helen shot down cold). Helen gets Wilson Phillips to play Lillianās favorite song, āHold On For One More Dayā, at the wedding. How did Helen know about this? The bridal shower. Annieās gift to Lillian was a memory box full of their favorite things when they were younger, and it had a Wilson Phillips CD in there. Helenās gift is a ticket to go to Paris (with Helen, of course). No, we never find out if they actual do go.
Those arenāt the only problems here, though. We get five different subplots, and each one adds less than the previous. First, there is Annieās moratorium on baking, which actually makes sense. Her bakery just failed, leaving her penniless. Her boyfriend abandoned her as soon as shit got too bad, and now sheās a bit jilted. These things could have given baking some negative connotations for her, but why, then, are we treated to a several minute sequence, early in the film (but after Annie has said sheās done with baking for awhile) of her making a single cupcake? Itās boring, and nonsensical, especially since she decides to bake for Rhodes as a way to say āIām Sorryā, and itās a pivotal emotional turning point. So the earlier scene only serves to diffuse the impact of that later one, and just brings the movie to a halt for what feels like forever. This brings up another thing for the āLillian is the worst friend everā category. Clearly, as they are best friends, Lillian knows that Annie loves to bake. So why, then, is Annie never at the very least asked to bake the wedding cake? I am dead serious here. If Lillian asked, and Annie said something like, āIād love to, but I think Iāll be busy enough as your Maid Of Honor, so noā. Then fine! But it really paints Lillian as a self-absorbed bitch, too tightly wound up in her new high class status (hubby is loaded), to ever see past her own asshole, thus she doesnāt ask Annie about the cake, and doesnāt think to blame Helen for the plane, despite all the evidence. Fuck you, Lillian, for being a dumbass, and fuck you, movie, for having soo many plotholes. Odd thing for a comedy to have, right?
Next up, we have Jon Hamm. Allow me to reiterate, Hamm is funny as hell in the role, but the role itself is thankless. I understand where they were trying to go with him (Annie finally realizes she deserves better, and is better than him), but her confidence and self-esteem all came together during the baking scene. Even worse, that exact same idea could have been brought forth by just a few lines in the bar when she and Rhodes really get to know each other. Hammās scenes just stop whatever momentum the film builds towards.
Most of the scenes with Annieās mom donāt fare any better. Jill Clayburgh wrings quite a few laughs out of the role, to be sure, but the character adds less than Hammās. Her character does not do anything to add to the main story (Annie eventually moves back home with her, but thatās the extent of her story contribution, and it adds little). Bigger problem though, is that the mom doesnāt have an interesting subplot in and of herself. Sheās there to give Annie someone to complain to.
Thirdly, we arrive at Annieās job. She now works as a cashier at a jewelry store. I literally canāt tell you why we ever focus on her here. It just drags, and drags, and drags, and drags, and drags, and drags, and OMG! Those scenes are still going on, and they add less than nothing to the plot. Thatās right folks, itās a black hole of plotness.
Finally, thereās Annieās very creepy, awkward, and dumb roommates. They only serve to make Annie more miserable, and despite that āLittle Britainā dude (Matt Lucas) being one of them, they arenāt that funny. Any scene with them could have been a scene with Rita or Becca, both of whom have no discernible personalities. I donāt need my hero to hit such a low point that sheās smaller than a grain of sand, but this movie concerns itself with making Annie as miserable and kicked around as possible before giving us catharsis.
The final, uber issue is just that, actually: catharsis. On the day of the wedding (itās at night), Helen goes to the now ousted Annieās house because Lillian has gone missing. Whilst searching for her, Helen apologizes immensely to Annie, knowing what a bitch she (Helen) has been to her (Annie). Helen actually breaks down crying. Awesome, right? Yay! The bitch knows it, and our hero can be guilt free, right? Umm, how about a big, fat no! The reason being Helen never confesses any of this to Lillian! That gives us the worst friend in any movie ever, Lillian, still blaming only one person for the plane fiasco, and simply thinking that the Paris themed bridal shower was because Helen knows her ever so well. That is bullshit. The real catharsis would be from Lillian not only forgiving Annie (she totally does, and Annie is still her MOH), but from Lillian apologizing to Annie for being such a cunt muffin. Alas, dear readers, such emotion was not to be.
I realize that there is a lot of negative there, but you know what?
āNo, I donātā.
āHey, Hypothetical Guy, let me finishā!
When the jokes work, and at over two hours, there are lots, they are gut bustingly hilarious. The slapstick works (mostly) well with the more serious drama, and that doesnāt interfere with the gross out stuff, which is some of the funniest in a long time. When everyone (save for Helen) gets food poisoning, while at a bridal boutique, and they all need to go ASAP, things get crazy. Itās genuinely hilarious, and super gross. The scene where Rhodes initially meets Annie (pulling her over for reckless driving) has some great banter that is cute, and fun. Even when a joke goes on for way too long, it was always funny to start with.
Itās funny, it is, but it tries too hard at points, and is too damn slow and mean to be truly exceptional. On top of that, they shoot themselves in the foot by having the main relationship be between a sweet person and the biggest, two-faced bitch ever. Maybe a rewrite or two was in order, but even then, I doubt that it would've helped.