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BRIDESMAIDS
Blu-ray Edition

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Wendi McClendon-Covey, Ellie Kemper, Melissa McCarthy, Chris O'Dowd
Director: Paul Feig
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Universal
Features: See Review
Length: 125 Minutes
Release Date: September 20, 2011

I just want to thank you for carefully selecting me as your maid of honor. I know you had some other choices...”

Film ****

There have been a good number of top-notch comedies released this year, but when it comes to the absolute best of the bunch for 2011, the movie is easily Bridesmaids. Not only does it earn that deserving label, but it's also one of the funniest films to come around in years. In terms of mixing extreme comedy with doses of heartwarming sweetness (a specialty of the Judd Apatow comedy factory), this one gets it absolutely perfect!

It's been endlessly referred to death as the female version of The Hangover, but to me a more appropriate way to describe it is a even better comedy altogether. That is saying a lot, and I still find The Hangover to be a riotous comedy knockout, but I stand by what I've just said as the truth at a hundred percent. Though I can easily say that Bridesmaids has more laughs in its first five minutes than The Hangover Part II has in its entirety.

But to be honest, I knew I was going to at least like this movie because of the simple fact that Kristen Wiig, who's had a number of supporting roles in comedies and is a current cast member on Saturday Night Live, was given her first lead role in a movie that she also happened to co-write. To put it simply, Ms. Wiig is one of the funniest human beings to ever exist. Ever since I first took notice of her in her scene-stealing bit role in Knocked Up, she has managed to leave me in hysterics with pretty much every subsequent comedic performance, whether in a movie or on SNL, where she is hands down the funniest of the current cast. With her headlining this movie, and having a part in writing it, I just knew this was going to be a laugh-fest for the ages.

Annie Walker (Wiig) is a bit down on her luck lately. She's had both a relationship and a business endeavor crumble, is now in debt and is engaged in a no-strings-attached affair with a slime ball named Ted (Jon Hamm, in a hilarious extended cameo). She's also been reduced to living with an English brother and sister who are a tad bit odd to say the least.

When Annie learns that her life long best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph), has gotten engaged and has asked her to be the maid of honor, she is both delighted and disheartened. Delighted because her wedding duties will help take her mind off her personal life. But disheartened because she's about to lose her best friend when she really needs her, not to mention that it will remind her that she is still single.

At the engagement party, Annie is introduced to the fellow bridesmaids. They include Rita (Wendi McClendon-Covey), Lillian's cousin who's about the most depressed wife and mother of three imaginable, and isn't afraid to go into unnecessary details of why she is. There's also Becca (Ellie Kemper), Lillian's co-worker who's always happy to point out to people how happily married she is, as well as Megan (Melissa McCarthy), sister to the groom who let's just say is not the least bit shameless...and happens to hold a high-paying government job.

Rounding out the bridesmaids is Helen (Rose Byrne), a best friend Lillian never told Annie about. Married into wealth and ready to spend all the money in the world on the wedding, Helen poses as a threat to Annie right from the start. And the instant rivalry results in the most hilarious toasting ceremony to ever be witnessed, as the two continuously upstage each other in their toasts to the bride.

A good bit of the story focuses on Annie trying her best to get to know Helen, at Lillian's request. But that pretty much results in an on-going contest of the two stepping on each others toes, mostly in a subtle manner. Annie is trying to hide her resentment towards this other “best friend” and just do what she can to please Lillian, since this is all leading up to her big day. But that becomes more and more difficult when Helen attempts to improve on every plan Annie has as far as the bridal shower, bachelorette party and wedding ceremony are concerned.

This is that rare comedy where there are simply too many classic bits of hilarity, that it is really difficult to single out one as the best of the bunch. And yet, the scene were the girls board a flight for Vegas for the bachelorette party is the major gut buster of them all. I won't dare spoil any details, except that this entire sequence will defy expectations as far as the plot is concerned and will solidify Kristen Wiig as the new queen of cinematic comedy!

And Wiig isn't the only cast member who gets to display her comedic chops. In fact, every single one of the bridesmaids gets her individual chance to shine here, which was most unexpected. Usually in comedy like this, at least one or two of the girls would've gotten left out, but the screenplay by Wiig and co-writer Annie Mumolo is exceptional in that it gives every one of them at least one standout scene.

That can definitely be said of Melissa McCarthy, who I'd never seen prior to this movie but has been featured on such shows as Gilmore Girls and the current sit-com Mike and Molly. She is a truly a comedic superstar in the making, and literally owns every scene she's in. A lesser comedy would've taken the lazy route and made her character one long fat-joke, but her eccentric personality, and the brilliant choice to use her as the voice of reason later on, illustrate why, again, this is a special comedy!

Comedies are always difficult to review, since it all boils down to mentioning the scenes that made you laugh the most. But with Bridesmaids, which has become one of the big breakout box-office hits of the year (and deservedly so), a review was most merited because this is one of those rarities where every single element of this comedic production was put into use perfectly. The writing, the performances and the directing (from Paul Feig, alum of both Freaks and Geeks and Arrested Development) are all at a level audiences rarely ever get from a mainstream comedy.

Bridesmaids is a new-found comedy classic, and is one that I will be revisiting when the funny bone is in need of ticklin.

Video ****

Universal is never one to disappoint with the handling of their newer titles on Blu-ray, and this is indeed no exception! This is a terrifically well shot movie for starters and carries a tremendous brightly lit look to it throughout, which the 1080p makes grand use of. Colors and overall detail are magnificent, to say the least. Needless to say, every aspect of the wedding is captured in glorious form, so do expect the ladies to react with pure awe during some moments!

Audio ***1/2

Though first and foremost a dialogue oriented comedy, the DTS HD mix does make good and effective use of the movie's many physical comedic moments, as well as every selection on the soundtrack (if you're a fan of Wilson Phillips, especially!). Dialogue delivery is at a hundred percent, as to be expected! For a comedy of this magnitude, you couldn't ask for a better sounding presentation.

Features ****

A Judd Apatow production by way of a Universal Blu-ray can only mean one thing: an endless line up of hilarious extras, which is very much what is the case here. There's quite a lot to go through, so let's hope I cover everything. For starters, we have both a Theatrical Version and an Unrated Version (the latter of which is longer by 7 minutes). There's a wonderfully hysterical commentary featuring director Paul Feig, co-writer Annie Mumolo and stars Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McClendon-Covey and Ellie Kemper, which is in the running for best commentary of the year, for obvious reasons! There's a behind the scenes featurette titled “Made of Honor: Behind the Scenes of Bridesmaids”, which runs about a half an hour in length and includes interviews with the cast and crew. There's also a Gag Reel, a Line-O-Rama (a trademark feature amongst the Apatow comedies) as well as a Drunk-O-Rama (which is BRILLIANT!), Deleted Scenes and Extended/Alternate Scenes, some key scenes of which have been given their own sections. They include Blind Date (a deleted bit featuring Paul Rudd), Roommates (extended bits with Annie's looney brother and sister roommates), and Cholodecki's (deleted scenes and commercials involving Annie's workplace). Rounding out the extras are Pep Talk (a cut scene from a crucial tennis sequence), Annie vs. Helen (more alternate lunacy with Kristen Wiig and Rose Byrne), and a performance of “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips.

Completing the package is a Bonus Disc, which includes both a DVD copy of the movie (as well as several of the aforementioned extras including commentary, Deleted/Extended & Alternate Scenes, Gag Reel, Line-O-Rama and the Cholodecki's commercial) and a Digital Copy version to view on your PC/Mac/iPod.

Summary:

I'm not mincing words in any way when I say that Bridesmaids is the single best laugh-fest this year, or one of the all around best comedies of the past 15 years! It's deserved every single bit of critical accliam and box office dollars that it has attained. And I couldn't be happier to see star Kristen Wiig soar to comedic leading lady status as a result. Without question, a must buy!

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