Think a horror film can be harrowing? Try a comedy about bridesmaids.
When Annie's lifelong best friend, Lillian, gets engaged and asks her to be the maid of honor, Annie agrees. But that eager acceptance jolts her with the reality of her own life … which consists of being in her late thirties, directionless, depressed and broke. And you can scratch any marital prospects, too: Ted, the handsome but sleazy womanizer she's quasi-dating, doesn't even want her to sleep over after they have sex.
As Annie's relationship with Lillian transitions from undivided attention to an occasional phone call, Annie feels left out—especially after meeting the rest of the bridal party, a group Lillian herself calls a "stone-cold pack of weirdos." Perfect, beautiful, control-freak Helen vies for Lillian's BFF status. Cousin Rita is unhappily married and disgusted by her three sons. Becca, a newlywed, is struggling to adjust to matrimonial "bliss." And to say that oversexed, outspoken and excessively obnoxious Megan lacks politesse is a bit like saying skunks are mildly aromatic.
So while Lillian is caught up in the whirlwind of wedding planning, Annie feels struck down by the tornado. And worse, she's a little bitter about her soot-stained life in comparison to her friend's fairy tale. But rather than sucking it up and supporting her best gal pal, Annie chooses to vent her frustrations in the worst ways. And when she meets a police officer named Rhodes, her own love life temporarily gets even uglier.
Is Annie the maid of honor or dishonor, as Rhodes puts it? Since Judd Apatow's name appears among the film's credits, you can bet on the latter.
Annie and Lillian's friendship, despite the fact that they have to pick their way through a falling out, is strong, loyal and founded on a cherished, lifelong knowledge of each other. Though there are changes in their emotional fabric due to Lillian's engagement—and Annie's bad behavior—the two never get so far away from each other that they can't work things out with a hug, a cry and a sorry.
Annie's mother is also supportive, cheering her daughter on when Annie's world get even rougher. And in a surprising turn, foul-mouthed, dirty-minded Megan offers Annie friendship and a healthy perspective, challenging her to quit feeling sorry for herself and take responsibility for her life. "You're your own problem, Annie," she says, "and you're your own solution."
Somewhat inexplicably, too, considering Annie's terrible behavior, Rhodes sees something special in her and encourages her not to give up on the one thing in her life (baking) that used to fulfill her.
Megan says dolphins spoke to her soul and rescued her when she fell off a cruise ship. Rhodes says cops are a lot like priests—except they can talk about people's confessions later.
The movie opens with an "adult sleepover." And all that means is that Ted and Annie are not sleeping. Wearing only a bra, she moves into multiple (explicit) sexual positions with him as the camera eyeballs their energetic movements, and listens in as they talk about what they're doing and how they're performing. Later we see him fondle her breast (again with her bra on).
Rhodes and Annie kiss passionately, too, as he lies on top of her. The next morning it's implied that they've had sex.
Rita waxes hyperbolic about her three boys' masturbation habits. And she begs Annie for a bachelorette trip with strippers and glamour so she can fantasize about it while having sex with her husband. She and her husband have sex all the time, she says, but it's not romantic or nurturing. Meanwhile, Becca talks about her new husband only agreeing to sex in very clean, very dark conditions. And she confides that she's never had sex with any other man. So, naturally, considering the fact that this is a hybrid sex/gross-out comedy, the two women end up kissing. Rita insists that every girl needs her "slutty college years" to figure out her womanhood.
Annie drives topless to provoke Rhodes. (Her breasts are obscured.) Megan talks about her body heat and her sexual appetite. She and a man she meets on a plane are briefly seen making a sex tape. She's eating a huge sandwich off his abdomen, but the camera angle implies oral sex. Oral sex is referenced and/or solicited multiple times in other contexts—and in crude detail. A storefront which once read "Cake Baby" is crassly vandalized with a vulgarity and a spray-painted picture of a penis. Annie does an impression of a penis.
Menstrual cramps, tampons and pubic hair are mentioned. Prostitution, both heterosexual and homosexual, is joked about. We hear graphic references to sexual anatomy and see obscene sexual gestures made. Women wear low-cut tops and extremely short skirts.
Megan tackles Annie on a plane, knocking her to the floor. Later she pokes, wrestles and bites Annie (on her backside) to make a point about life being brutal and needing to fight for it.
Annie's car is rear-ended in a hit-and-run accident. At Lillian's wedding shower, she throws a fit, knocking over decor, throwing things and generally making a giant mess. Helen and Annie play tennis, intentionally pummeling each other with the ball. Megan wishes that the bridal party could form a fight club.
Drug and Alcohol Content
While on a plane, Helen gives Annie a prescription sedative, which Annie downs with a glass of Scotch. The result is severe intoxication and hallucinations. Annie also chugs wine straight from the bottle when she first learns Lillian is engaged. Rhodes and Annie go to a bar. Wine and hard liquor are served with dinner and at parties.
Annie pretends to drink while driving.
Other Negative Elements
Annie behaves atrociously on many, many occasions. Instead of graciously ignoring Helen's controlling attempts to hijack the maid of honor duties, Annie competes with her, causing awkward situations and drawing attention to herself and her own emotional fragility rather than the bride's happiness.
Annie's self-centeredness continues at Lillian's wedding shower, where she verbally attacks Helen—and even Lillian—cursing at both and destroying expensive decorations at the mansion where they're holding the event. Before being arrested and escorted off a plane—which is forced to alter its flight plan and land in Wyoming because of her—Annie manages to insult flight attendants (she mocks one of them by insinuating that he's acting like Hitler) and disrupt passengers.
After coming down with food poisoning, several bridal party members are explicitly shown vomiting into and onto a toilet, not to mention each other. Megan makes much of being "forced" to defecate in a sink (covered by her dress). Lillian, wearing a wedding dress, tries to run across a street to find a bathroom, but she doesn't make it. She crumples to the ground, and a joke is made about her public defecation (that is thankfully hidden by the dress). Anal bleaching is mentioned.
Rhodes often seems to take his police duties too casually, flirting with Annie by letting her use his radar gun and turning a blind eye to her reckless driving. Megan goes on and on about how air marshals keep guns up their backsides. And she tells other bridesmaids that she put a loaded gun into the groom's carryon bag before his honeymoon flight—to stir up trouble with the airport's TSA agents.
Annie's socially awkward roommate shows off an infected midriff tattoo, her overweight body spilling out of her jeans and top as she hikes up her shirt.
Much has been made of Bridesmaids being the first female "buddy film" from producer Judd Apatow, one of the guilty parties behind rank comedies The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Superbad. And, indeed, his customary signature of gross-out humor, grimy language and bad, badder and baddest behavior is written clearly across this film—sometimes in all caps.
But something else he's known for is here, too, and that's a little thing called heart. Take responsibility for your life, he and director Paul Feig (of TV's Freaks and Geeks fame) tell us. Stop comparing yourself to others. Self-centeredness is unattractive and unfair. Love friends through their ugly behavior and they'll come out of it.
For a few fleeting seconds I actually found myself rooting for badly behaved Annie as she realizes her faults and slowly begins to change her ways. But those hints of virtue buried in what is otherwise a female version of The Hangover (which Bridesmaids tries hard to honor) won't be the film's box office draw. No, that distinction will likely go to the bathroom humor and outrageousness. Because Apatow has once again lived down to his own standard for comedies, male- or female-centric.