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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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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

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Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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