That sound you hear is me, heaving a sigh over yet another two-hour comedy that’s got about an hour of good material spread thin. Some smart, talented people collaborated on the film, including director Paul Feig (who’s also a good writer), producer Judd Apatow, and screenwriter and star Kristen Wiig, who created the script with Annie Mumolo. They clearly believe in what they’re doing, but judging from the results they can’t see the forest for the trees. I’m not even sure they can tell one tree from another; this mishmash of comedy styles and dramatic moments wanders all over the place. (It’s easy to see why. Like last year’s Get Him to the Greek and other Apatow productions, this one exposed—
—over a million feet of film as Feig encouraged his improv-savvy actors to cut loose and try variations of every scene. The picture was then cut and pasted together in the editing room.)
Is it funny? Yes, at times, and its female-centric theme will appeal to many women. I just hope they have the patience to trudge through the slow spots and story detours. Bridesmaids, which might as easily bear the title Women Behaving Badly, wants to be funny, relatable, serious, heartfelt, broad and outrageous all at once. It sets up six women—the bridesmaids of the title—but gives two of them virtually no screen time, while incidental characters are assigned extraneous traits and comedic tics. There’s no discipline to a movie like this, so its good points get smothered in the big picture.
We must also confront the question of whether audiences want to see women acting as crudely as men often do in gross-out comedies. I tend to vote no, although I didn’t despise the last major female raunch-fest, The Sweetest Thing with Cameron Diaz, as some people did. There aren’t any rules where comedy is concerned: all that really matters is whether or not it’s funny. (OK, being coherent doesn’t hurt, either.) If you’re ready for fairly graphic vomit and diarrhea jokes, and like the stars of Bridesmaids, you may be more forgiving than I am.