By Eleanor Ringel Cater
Toss a bouquet — and a big fat development deal for her next movie — to Kristen Wiig, the co-writer and star of the wondrous new “Bridesmaids.”
Possibly the brightest romantic comedy to come along since “The 40-year-Old Virgin,” “Bridesmaids” actually has a coupla things in common with the movie that put Steve Carell on the map. One, they both offer a sweet human side to balance the out-there outrageousness which is as raunchy as it is embarrassing.
Second, a certain Judd Apatow (eternally cursed for “Knocked Up,” eternally blessed for these films) had a hand in both.
But, back to the real star: Easily the best thing to come out of “Saturday Night Live” since Will Ferrell and Tina Fey, Wiig is one of those beauties blessed with cheek bones AND funny bones.
So, what’s so funny about “Bridesmaids?” Well, just about everything and everybody.
The film takes a simple premise — somebody is getting MARRIED!!!! — and dunks it into scenarios of all sorts. There’s the intense rivalry between the bride’s (Maya Rudolph) oldest, best-est friend, Annie (Wiig,) who also Maid of Honor, and her new BFF, Helen (Rose Byrne) a wealthy beauty who happens to be married to the groom’s boss.
This is the sort of cat-fight one-upmanship that women recognize in the smallest gesture and men (bless ‘em) finally figure out by the time someone is tearing at someone else’s hair.
I promise you, both sides are there, with waves of laughter in-between.
And then there’s the down-and-dirty stuff known as broad farce. Say, a mid-bridal-fitting meltdown after a questionable lunch. Say yes to the dress…and the toilet.
The movies scampers effortlessly between the profane and the not-exactly sacred, honoring the bonds of friendship and the burden of the Perfect Wedding while unleashing Rabelaisian demons of body-fluid delirium.
Wiig, with her say-everything eyes and agile emotional pratfalls, holds it all together, while Rudolph is remarkably steady as the bride. Further, Byrne is a crack-up in J. Crew (weekend wear), the sort who turns a wedding plan into something worthy of the D-Day invasion.
But then, everyone is good here, including Chris O’Dowd as a pixilated yet down-to-earth Irish cop; Jon Hamm as a self-absorbed sometime suitor who graciously grants Wiig No. 3 status in his dating circle; and Melissa McCarthy as a Big Girl bridesmaid with a cheerfully unsullied libido.
“Bridesmaids” isn’t a classic Top-25 comedy on the scale of Preston Sturges or “Tootsie” or “Annie Hall” or “Love Actually.” Still, it’s exhilarating to see something that can be smart and silly without missing a beat. Right now, it’s the funniest movie of the year.