Lately, a line from the Danish film Babette’s Feast has been running through my head… “Throughout the world sounds one long cry from the heart of the artist: Give me the chance to do my very best.”
Ten years ago, Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo might have written this movie but Wiig and Maya Rudolph never would have been cast in it. Instead, we would have seen some good-sport-starlet (Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Aniston, Christina Applegate) with dewy skin and passable comic timing doing her best to endure a series of humiliating situations. Meanwhile, Wiig and Rudolph– lovely, but ordinary looking women– would have been relegated to a quirky best friend role or hamming it up as a wacky waiter.
But with Bridesmaids we get two fantastic female comedians owning the story instead of stealing their moments. They go to town on their material, working each beat, commanding each set piece with total confidence. A lot of the film’s jokes feel predictable and obvious, but the execution elevates the material. There is something almost elegant in the way that Rudolph crumples to the street in her own excrement, and to watch Wiig consume a Jordan almond in a bridal salon battle of wills is to witness greatness. (Melissa McCarthy is another standout. I was sorry to see the film fall into the “fat women who want to have sex are hilarious” trap, but McCarthy’s delivery did wonders.)
I don’t know that Bridesmaids is their “very best,” but it’s a good beginning and a hopeful indication that the world is ready to give Wiig, Rudolph, and others their chance.