The Cynical Optimist on why Bridesmaids is one of the best comedies in a decade!

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Plot Synopsis: Maid of Honor Annie (Kristen Wiig) and a rag-tag band of bridesmaids (Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Ellie Kemper) accompany Lillian (Maya Rudolph) on her blissful journey to Holy Matrimony.

Directed by Paul Feig (The Office, Arrested Development) and written by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, “Bridesmaids” is without question the laugh-out-loud comedy of the summer.

This isn’t your formulaic wedding movie (“27 Dresses,” “Bride Wars”) or some uninspired romantic comedy starring Katherine Heigl. “Bridesmaids” cements Saturday Night Live’s Kristen Wiig as one of the funniest women alive, while Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly) steals scenes as the vulgar, buxom, in-your-face friend Megan.

Upon Annie’s suggestion, Lillian and the bridesmaids eat lunch at a Brazillian restaurant (where they all get food poisoning) before doing a little dress shopping. The result is a vile ballet of projectile vomiting, diarrhea and an unfortunate scene in which Maya Rudolph’s character shits her dress in the middle of the street, evoking the memorable moment in “Platoon” when Sgt. Elias is gunned down.

Let’s talk about the poster for a second, which I’ve used as the heading image for this review. Some people have criticized the marketing campaign for displaying the bridesmaids as slutty, loose women – because obviously that’s what brings men out in droves to the theaters (forget Thor with his shirt off or Vin Diesel and The Rock rolling around, covered in sweat).

It actually reminds me of the album cover for The Ramones’ self-titled debut. To me, it’s all about attitude. Definitively punk rock, the cast of “Bridesmaids” displays confidence in their femininity while also making their toughness known, not with words but with body language – the slouching shoulders, the dangling limbs – they just don’t give a fuck what you think, they know they’re bad ass – and you will too.

Producer Judd Apatow’s brand of comedy is so recognizable, that it’s practically its own sub-genre at this point, and “Bridesmaids” is by far the funniest film cut from the Apatow cloth thus far.

Films like “The Hangover” and “Sex in the City” are accessible because, ultimately, they are shallow and lack depth of character. You’ve got the movie made by dumb, drunk frat guys for dumb, drunk frat guys, and then you have a film about vain, materialistic bitches with a superficial sense of sisterhood. Unflattering cliches and stereotypes, to say the least.

Sure, characters like Carrie Bradshaw or Bradley Cooper’s Phil do exist in the real world, but seldom would you want to spend two hours with them – because they’re the scourge of the Earth. We can watch these characters on a screen and enjoy their benign existence because it simplifies life for us so that we may organize our own emotions into neat little boxes.

If anything, Apatow’s brand of comedy allows real emotion to seep through the cracks of vulgarity and ridiculousness. You totally buy into the relationship between Heigl and Rogen in “Knocked Up.” There’s a lot of heartfelt authenticity in films like “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and “Superbad,” even if there are a shit-ton of dick jokes.

And that is where “Bridesmaids” soars, as a honest depiction of real women and how they interact within friendships and romantic relationships – how someone does everything in her power to make sure her best friend has the most amazing wedding ever. And at the end of the day, you can relate to these characters – because you know people like them – hell, you probably are one of them.

And because you relate and connect to the characters, you are more invested in the story – and the humor that comes out of the absurd situations they get into is even more over-the-top and hilarious.

Bottom Line: “Bridesmaids” is one of the funniest films I’ve seen in the past 10 years. Definitely not a chick flick, it will delight the guys who are begrudgingly dragged to theaters with their significant others – who will not doubt also be surprised by the amount of depth in the story and its female characters.

Final Thought: It’s important that this movie succeeds at the box office, so I hope it catches on via word of mouth – because I don’t think the advertising campaign has reached the same audience that elevated films like “Knocked Up” and “Superbad.”

A message should be sent to Hollywood to say we’re going to support genuine movies that portray women on screen as real, three-dimensional people and not cookie-cutter archetypes. That’s maybe the most amazing thing about “Bridesmaids” – a movie written by women, featuring a cast that is 90% female, that isn’t degrading to either sex and yet entertaining to both.