Film Review: Bridesmaids

The trailer for Bridesmaids suggests that it is a female version of The Hangover. Instead, the film is a less raucous comedy with moments of genuine poignancy. Nevertheless, it is still very funny and immensely entertaining.

Annie is asked to be maid of honour at her long-time best friend’s wedding. Lillian’s other bridesmaids are an unconventional bunch that includes the very wealthy and immaculately presented Helen. As Annie tries to organise the various rituals, her personal life is unravelling at an alarming rate. This contrast becomes all too stark between Annie’s life and those of Lillian and Helen…

Bridesmaids is a great comedy which also displays genuine emotion. The humour is sometimes crass, but hits the right note more often than not. Paul Feig’s film does not always go for the lowest common denominator in terms of comedy, although there is some very literal toilet humour. On the other hand, the more serious moments of Bridesmaids also work well. Annie’s plight is completely identifiable, even if her actions sometimes are not. The chemistry between cast members is evident, which is an enormous help in generating the film’s more emotional moments.

Part of the reason Bridesmaids is so effective is that aspects of the film are very realistic. The jealousy that Annie projects towards Helen and Lillian is perfectly understandable, given the state of her private life. Moreover, her dalliances with Ted are also believable, despite his dubious personality. It appears that humour is the only unbelievable part of film; situations are exaggerated to generate many of the film’s laughs.

There are only two really problems with Bridesmaids. Firstly, the film is too long. It starts off brilliantly, but wanes after about an hour. Annie’s decline is drawn out, and seems to last too long given that the film is marketed as a comedy. Secondly, two of the bridesmaids inexplicably vanish in the second half of the film. It appears to begin with that Rita and Becca are important members of the supporting cast (and vital to bringing humour), but they are nowhere to be seen later in the film. Sufficient time donated to the marital woes of both Rita and Becca, yet these strands are completely omitted in the latter part of the film without any kind of resolution. Their absence is even more unusual given the recurrence of Matt Lucas’ character, who serves little purpose.

Kristen Wiig is excellent as protagonist Annie. She is attractive but not unrealistic, and is adept at both comedy and drama. Maya Rudolph appears very natural as bride Lillian, while Rose Byrne once again demonstrates her great comedic skills.

Bridesmaids is a genuinely enjoyable film. Although there are a few flaws, it is good to see an almost all-female cast star in a film that both sexes should find entertaining.

Film Review: Singin’ in the Rain

Singin’ in the Rain is a perennial bank holiday favourite. The musical comedy is also one of the best films about the movie business, an aspect that is not as obvious when viewing it as a child.

In the late 1920s, Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont are a much-loved couple of the silent screen. When the studio decides to make the transition to sound, Don works with long-term partner Cosmo on new ideas. Lina’s voice proves an issue, until newcomer Kathy Selden provides Cosmo and Don with an interesting solution…

Singin’ in the Rain works equally well on a number of levels. The film is effective as a romance, as a comedy and as a musical. The relationship between Don and Kathy flourishes in an organic manner; Kathy holds her own as a feisty and independent character. Don, meanwhile, exhibits both charm and a sense of self-deprecation that is endearing.

Singin’ in the Rain functions as both a straightforward comedy with a healthy dose of slapstick, and a satirisation of Hollywood in the 1920s (and to some extent, Hollywood in general). This use of satire is particularly persuasive at the very beginning of the film, where Don charts his rise from vaudeville chancer to movie star.

Singin’ in the Rain is both a musical and a film about the making of a musical. As such, the lines become blurred. The ‘Broadway Melody’ sequence is of a duration protracted enough to disrupt the narrative. Nevertheless, the sequence is an enjoyable spectacle. Other numbers featured in the film have become classics; however Alfred Freed and Nacio Herb Brown’s songs still feel fresh within the context of the film.

Directed by Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, Singin’ in the Rain moves at a good pace, and maintains a suitable balance between musical and non-musical scenes. The choreography is spellbinding at times; the title song number is enthralling, whether it is your first time watching or your fifteenth. The continuous shots in sequences such as this add to the magic; there is little doubt over Gene Kelly’s flair for movement.

Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds are great as Don and Kathy. The real stand-outs, however, are Donald O’Connor as Cosmo and Jean Hagen as Lina. O’Connor brings a real physicality to Cosmo, while Hagen is hilarious as the overbearing movie star.

Singin’ in the Rain became a cinema classic for very good reason. For a film that is almost sixty years old, Singin’ in the Rain feels remarkably fresh, and is a joy to watch.

Singin’ in the Rain was shown at the British Film Institute, as part of the Screen Epiphanies season. It was introduced by Matt Lucas.