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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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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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