Here is to always being a groomsman, never the groom. Or in the case of today’s movie, Bridesmaids (2011), well, the singular form of the title and never the bride. It is something that the main character, Annie Walker (Kristen Wiig), is going through, and with which I can identify. Before I go any further, this is a comedy, and quite funny in its time. Because we have had a plethora of knock-offs and felt the swarm of cancel culture, some of the jokes do not hit home as they did in the heady days of a little over a decade ago. What gives this artifact a little more staying power is its heart, and the trials that Annie endures. Life has a funny way of working. As you enter adulthood, believing that you have things figured out and a plan in place for anything else, this is when it can go awry. To be sure, there are those for which everything goes right and they have the kind of storybook existence many wish they possessed. This is covered in the film, too. God has a way of breaking our pride, not out of a desire to angrily chastise, but to gently nudge us in the direction in which He would like us to go. Many spend a long time fighting this, unfortunately.
Before Annie fulfills the title role in Bridesmaids (actually, spoiler, she is the maid of honor), she fails at owning her dream business, a bakery. Her best friend, Lillian Donovan (Maya Rudolph) is on hand to cheer her up, but it comes with an announcement: she is getting engaged to a wealthy Chicago banker named Douglas “Doug” Price (Tim Heidecker) and moving away from their native Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Annie’s life already seems less charmed, though she puts on a good face. Meanwhile, her mom, Judy (Jill Clayburgh), wants her to move home. Annie resists this because she wants to maintain some semblance of an adult life, even though her current living situation is less than ideal, renting a room from an eccentric brother and sister duo from England, Gil (Matt Lucas) and Brynn (Rebel Wilson), who constantly give her a hard time. Annie does have a romantic interest of her own, a police officer named Nathan Rhodes (Chris O’Dowd), but she does not take him seriously. Instead, she opts to be sexually used by the self-obsessed Ted (Jon Hamm). If you cannot tell already, she is having some problems with her self-esteem. None of this is helped much when she arrives at the luxurious mansion at which the engagement party is held, getting out in front in her barely functioning car. Inside, she meets the rest of the bridal party, which are an interesting cast of characters. We will focus for the moment on Helen Harris III (Rose Byrne), Doug’s boss’ wife. Because Doug works a great deal with his supervisor, Helen and Lillian have become close. To Annie, it appears that Helen is supplanting Annie is Lillian’s new best friend. Annie sees Helen as having everything that Annie lacks, and immediately feels in competition with more well-off woman for Lillian’s affections. This starts to come out in some awkward ways. On the day of Lillian’s dress fitting, they decide to go to lunch at a Brazilian steak house. Helen thinks that the place looks suspicious, but Lillian backs Annie’s decision, citing Annie’s uncanny ability at finding often overlooked establishments. Turns out, this one is overlooked for a reason. In the middle of the fitting, at a dress store that Helen had to use her connections to get them into, everyone in the party has, let us just say, fecal urgency. The next situation arrives with the planned bachelorette party in Las Vegas. Annie wants to give Lillian what she wants, but does not have the funds to do so. Thus, while everyone else sits in first class, she resigns herself to coach. Annie takes a sedative from Helen to deal with the flight, but mixes it with alcohol. The combination makes her loopy, to say the least, leading her to try to sneak into first class. Eventually, she has to be subdued by an Air Marshall, and the trip is ruined. From there, Helen steps in to take care of the rest of the planning duties, with Lillian approving of the decision due to Annie’s evidently stressed state. Annie further spirals when she rebuffs Nathan’s sweet attempt to get her interested in baking once more. The final straw comes during the bridal shower when Helen upstages Annie by giving the soon-to-be husband and wife a trip to Paris. What ensues is a full-on brawl between Annie and Helen, which destroys the party and draws Lillian’s ire. On the way home, Nathan pulls Annie over for not fixing the taillight on her car. The message here is that Annie is not taking responsibility for her life, and she is beginning to realize it. She then moves in with her mom, seemingly giving up. With a little encouragement from Doug’s sister Megan (Melissa McCarthy), one of the other bridesmaids, she begins to carry on, even taking up baking once more. On the day of the wedding, she is startled by the arrival of Helen, who cannot find Lillian. They beg Nathan to help them find the missing bride-to-be, and end up locating her at her apartment in Milwaukee. There is a great deal of reconciliation that happens from here, with Annie admitting that she had acted poorly, and resuming her maid of honor duties. After the wedding, she is able to ride off in Nathan’s squad car.
In Bridesmaids, Annie spends a great deal of time blaming others for her problems. Her bakery closed because of the economy. Lillian chooses Helen because Annie is poor. As mentioned, she then acts towards others in ways befitting of somebody who is having problems with self-esteem. Having unattached sex with Ted is probably the most obvious manifestation. That is not just a Catholic opinion. Of course, pre-marital intercourse is a no-no in the Church, but it is also evident that Ted is using her and does not care for her at all. The trickier one is Nathan. He encourages her to do the things she loves because he wants to see her happy. She denies him because she does not think herself worthy of happiness. That is not how God created us. God’s love is selfless, not self-centered. This is exemplified by Nathan. Yes, there is a component of selfishness in his encouragement of Annie’s baking. He wants to be able to experience her treats for himself. At the same time, he is not willing to give in to her demands for pity. It takes Annie a while to learn the error of her ways, and in realizing how focused on her own problems rather than serving Lillian in her friend’s time of need, she is able to turn her life around. What I am not trying to say here is that love of self can only be found in serving others. Annie had to take some time on her own to see the mistakes she had made. When she re-emerged, it was with humbleness, which is a virtue. This is how God calls us, and only when we can get out of our own way can we answer it.
Bridesmaids is rated R, so it is not for all audiences. This is because there is a bit of language in it, and suggestive material. Mostly, the humor is related to physical comedy and poop. The suggestive material is focused on Annie’s relationship with Ted. If you can handle these things, you have a movie that still works today.