Obviously intended as a femme version of a rude and crude boys-gone-wild comedy, complete with projectile vomiting, inconvenient defecation and fusillades of F-bombs, “Bridesmaids” sorely lacks the saving grace of being consistently funny. Unveiled as a “work in progress” at the SXSW Film Festival in a version described by director Paul Feig as a final cut that requires only some soundtrack tweaking, this overlong and underwhelming trifle might generate respectable opening weekend theatrical biz for Universal, but only if trailers and TV spots can make it look like an exuberantly raunchy laugh riot.
Pic’s title may prove unfortunately prophetic for Kristen Wiig, a current “Saturday Night Live” regular who has been a standout supporting player in several recent bigscreen comedies, but who strains mightily to shoulder the responsibilities of her first lead in a feature.
Wiig (who co-scripted with Annie Mumolo, a fellow veteran of the Groundlings comedy troupe) does herself no favors by hand-tooling her role as Annie, a character who is in many ways as annoying as Penelope, the attention-craving neurotic she has essayed in several “SNL” sketches. Indeed, Wiig makes it practically impossible to develop a rooting interest in Annie’s happily-ever-aftering, and all too easy to sympathize when a longtime friend is infuriated by her self-absorbed excesses.
Depressed, underemployed and desperately vulnerable after the failure of her bakery business, Annie is pathetically eager to answer the booty calls of a self-absorbed heel (a gleefully sleazy Jon Hamm). But the true depth of her emotional neediness isn’t revealed until Lillian (Maya Rudolph), her best friend since childhood, asks her to be her maid of honor.
When Helen (Rose Byrne), the well-organized and well-to-do wife of the groom’s boss, tries to hijack control of the pre-wedding festivities — and, worse, presumes that she is Lillian’s new and improved best friend — Annie responds jealously and behaves badly. Trouble is, Annie is singularly ill equipped — emotionally, financially and just about every other way — to engage in games of one-upmanship.
Here and there, “Bridesmaids” gives Wiig opportunity to showcase her comedic chops, most notably when Annie makes an intoxicated ninny of herself during a flight to a bachelorette party in Las Vegas. And there are some amusing moments involving the other bridesmaids, though Wendi McLendon-Covey has too little screen time as a bluntly outspoken, unhappily married mother of three, and Melissa McCarthy (of TV’s “Mike & Molly”) has rather too much to do as an overweight, oversexed motormouth.
For the most part, however, “Bridesmaids” is a sluggish, charmless misfire in which even the most appealing players — including Chris O’Dowd as an Irish-accented cop who inexplicably falls for Annie — must try too hard to make anything close to an engaging impression. It’s more than a little sad to note that the late Jill Clayburgh, who has one or two funny lines as Annie’s mom, makes her final screen appearance here.
Listed running time is an estimate, as the print screened at SXSW did not have complete closing credits.