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“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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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.