“Bridesmaids,” Reviewed

“Bridesmaids,” Reviewed (photo)

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Comedy usually involves someone having to looking left while everyone else looks right, which may be the only real way to describe what Kristen Wiig has done with “Bridesmaids,” a film that superficially might appear as if it falls in line of what’s come to be expected at comedies aimed at women these days, but starts its subtle subversion from the moment Jon Hamm asks Wiig’s Annie to cup his balls during the film’s opening frames.

For anyone who’s followed the “Saturday Night Live” star, the sex scene that opens “Bridesmaids” might come as a bit startling since Wiig’s never been one to play up her sexuality as part of her schtick, instead losing herself in awkward characters that make others feel uncomfortable if she’s behind some makeup and a funny voice or the one feeling uncomfortable in her own skin as the world around her struggles to make sense of her. On the surface of “Bridesmaids,” it’s the latter that’s on display as Annie would seem like your typical post-twenties romantic comedy heroine, unsure of herself since her one true love – baking – was a casualty of the recession and she hasn’t been able to find it anywhere else as she approaches her forties, instead occasionally jumping in the sack with Hamm, who tells her in no uncertain terms that he wants her to leave in the morning.

One might think Annie might find a sense of purpose after becoming the maid of honor for her longtime best friend Lillian’s (Maya Rudolph) upcoming nuptials, but her new role only thrusts her into even more into crisis mode, where she feels she needs to compete with Lillian’s new well-to-do friend Helen (a scene-stealing Rose Byrne) and consider a new phase of her life that scarily could involve a bachelorette party of her own. But to move the story along, Annie doesn’t play into the Oprah-defined prescription for self-improvement nor is she the victim of the usually misogynistic screenplays that dictate at which point the pretty but self-destructive main character is going to wise up and realize the flaws that have made her unattractive to the male species as a whole until now and do a course correction, probably in large part because Wiig wrote the script herself with Annie Mumolo. Instead, “Bridesmaids” is a film that suggests that the only real change that occurs to Annie is that she’s in a happier place than where she started and indicative of the film itself, she’s one to move at her own pace. (Despite being billed as a “work-in-progress” screening at SXSW, the audience was told it was basically the final cut minus some sound mixing, and it could actually benefit from some tightening, though part of it’s charm is the rangy way many of the scenes play out.)

For this reason alone, they probably couldn’t have found a better director than Paul Feig, the creator of “Freaks and Geeks” whose investment in creating strong characters matches Wiig’s and doesn’t mind being all over the place tonally to accommodate everything his lead is able to do. There are gross-out scenes – a poop joke involving Rudolph crossing the street in a wedding dress is simultaneously original and cringe-inducing – bizarro dialogue-heavy scenes related to Annie’s job at a jewelry store and her eccentric roommates (Rebel Wilson and Matt Lucas), and still a rather endearing, fumbling courtship between Annie and a local traffic cop (“The IT Crowd'”s Chris O’Dowd). The film is generous to all its performers, which is to both say Jon Hamm’s agreeably loathsome cad shows up for more than five minutes (in case you were wondering) and the laughs generated by every character are enhanced ever so slightly by what seem to be real human quirks as opposed to caricature.

Yet “Bridesmaids” is first and foremost a showcase for Wiig, who surely doesn’t play it safe here but still comes off as an affable everywoman with a twinkle of danger in her eye. One imagines the hardest thing for her as a performer wasn’t the lewd humor or selling the wackier elements of the script, but playing a character who wears her emotions on her sleeve. That she lets everyone else drop all pretense and do the same for two hours is sweet relief for all.

“Bridesmaids” opens on May 13th.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar


IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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