Chick-flick. The very word alone is enough to send an apathetic shudder down the backs of most red-blooded males. Bridget Jones' shopping list – groan, The Bronte sisters' Parisian hen night – pffffft, Carrie Bradshaw's endless, seeping, BULLSHIT inner-monologue? Zeus, Vishnu, Diana, if any of you are up there, kill me now.
You can imagine my delight then when I was asked to review 'Bridesmaids', a sassy romp through the build-up to some poor cow's wedding that stars nobody particularly attractive. “Wonderful!” I proclaimed, “I'll just neck a handful of Ritalin and be sure to leave my head in the tube doors on the way home” you know the drill fellas.
It starts predictably enough as well, Saturday Night Live's Kristen Wiig indulging in a slightly comical bout of horizontal jogging with Mad Men's Don Draper. She wants to go slower, he wants to pummel her into the mattress, make silly faces and then be INSENSITIVE in the morning, you know the drill ladies.
I began shoving my complimentary popcorn up my nose in anticipation of 124 minutes of watching this endearing, plucky female battle valiantly against the oppression and inequalities of a world ruled by six foot, well-groomed phalluses, dragging her carcass from scene to scene before the slightly better looking, but equally smug and irritating, phallus rides in on a silver metaphor and makes everything ok.
“What's that? No sorry sweetheart I missed the ending because I'd gouged out my own eyes and replaced them with those two Cadbury's Creme Eggs. Frightfully sorry.”
But, not for the first time in a film, I soon had my cynicism bent over a cold table and fisted into submission. Albeit more delicately than usual.
The plot quickly veers off its projected course as we're introduced to other “Bridesmaids”. There's the substance abusing, sex starved, horny mother of three; the naïve, pasteurised eskimo-kissing prude; the snobbish, evil beauty with a sinister motive and a figure from a manga cartoon, and the other one, who utterly defies all classification. All placed squarely in our path to show us how formulaic this genre is, and most of all, how much fun this film plans to make of it. Just think of them as Gucci lighthouses.
As if all my prayers had been answered at once, the film decides to prove that men and women can actually be amused by the same things, provided, and brace yourself for this, they're actually quite funny.
You'll hear all sorts of comparisons about this being “The Hangover for girls” but it's not - “The Hangover for anyone who thought The Hangover was badly-cast, predictable and largely overrated, but hey, it had its moments I guess” would be more fitting, although I'd like to see them try and fit that on the poster.
Even more astounding than it actually being really funny is that Wiig's lead character isn't just an empty shell of feminine cliches and Joan Collins' gags - she's actually three-dimensional. Even I, one of those “males” you hear so much about, could relate to her. She's broke – I understand, my trainers are falling apart and I consider pizza toppings an extravagance. She's miserable – I once danced (swayed awkwardly with a lit cigarette) to 'The Rose' by Bette Midler. She's hopeless with the opposite sex – I had two free tickets to this and I still came alone, a sentence that simultaneously is and is not a euphemism.
It's 'The Hangover' for anyone who thought 'The Hangover' was badly-cast, predictable and largely overrated, but hey, it had its moments I guess.
Then there's The IT Crowd's Chris O'Dowd who, somewhere between hapless nerd and walking Victorian erection, realised he hadn't ticked lovable traffic cop off his niche acting gig bucket-list yet. He's very good in it as well, just imagine Owen Wilson doing an impression of Hugh Grant doing an impression of Chief O'Brien from Star Trek: The Next Generation, and that's basically how he comes across.
Dare I say it, this might actually be the perfect date movie. I normally dread the thought of taking a girl to the cinema because A) we'll never decide on what we both want to see and B) I seem to only attract the sort of shrieking harpies who not only think Mamma Mia is a sound investment of both one's time and money, but will audibly 'tut' me when I insist that watching it entitles me to things in bed later on. “What's that? No sorry sweetheart I missed the ending because I'd gouged out my own eyes and replaced them with those two Cadbury's Creme Eggs. Frightfully sorry.”
A lot of reviews (y'know, the proper ones) will doubtless get bogged down in the film's many subtleties. They'll tell you that the smart intertwining of the character progression keeps you interested, but not over-stimulated, for its two-hour running time; that in touching on self-sabotage, class war and emotional maturation it's actually one of the smartest comedies of recent years, and that by presenting us with six subversively original female lead characters, it could well be the long awaited catalyst for a new wave of chick-flicks that go beyond the usual bargain bin “ooooooooooh shoes!” bollocks.
All you really need to know though, is that this is a very good film, and you'll probably enjoy it, regardless of gender.
Bridesmaids goes on general UK release on 24th June.
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