The Sons of Katie Elder

The Sons of Katie Elder
"First, we reunite, then find Ma and Pa's killer...then read some reviews."

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


For almost 40 years now, Saturday Night Live has consistently produced comedic actors that have gone on to bigger and better things. John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Eddie Murphy, Chris Farley, Will Ferrell and many more. But lost amidst all the funny guy comedians have been the female comedians. They're fewer and far between though, but of the last 10 years or so the female cast members have stepped to the forefront, especially Kristen Wiig who wrote and helped produce 2011's Bridesmaids.

In her mid 30s, Annie (Wiig) has hit a low-point in her life. Her self-started bakery has closed in the recession, she lives with a creepy British brother and sister, her car is a piece of junk, and she hates herself for being a hook-up buddy with Ted (an uncredited Jon Hamm). Her best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph), has gotten engaged and asks Annie to be her maid of honor. Annie definitely wants to take the role, honored by the question, but the task and responsibility might be a little too much for her to handle, especially when Helen (Rose Byrne), Lil's new friend, threatens to take over. Hopefully Annie can keep it together until the wedding.

I'm going to get this out of the way early. I liked Bridesmaids, but I didn't love it. I think it was intentionally mis-marketed to look like a girls version of The Hangover, and it really isn't. Part of the humor maybe I missed because I'm a guy (not to sound sexist), but I definitely feel like I missed some of the laughs/situations. As one IMDB reviewer pointed out -- and I tend to agree -- this is a chick flick disguised as a raunchy comedy. It's still good, but not as good as I was hoping. Wiig's script with Annie Mumolo (who makes a funny cameo) is well-written, but the movie isn't quite what it was made out to be. Funny, but not the instant classic it was made out to be.

Working together like the Wolfpack of The Hangover, Wiig, Rudolph and Byrne lead a strong group of female comedians. Dating back to their days on SNL, Wiig and Rudolph have a good chemistry together that doesn't feel like acting, just two legitimate friends doing some lines together. Byrne's Helen is the late-comer to the party, a rich, snobby woman who's the wife of Lill's husband's boss (there's a mouthful for you). The rivalry does produce some solid laughs, one woman trying to out-do the other. The group also includes Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey), a mother of three who desperately wants to escape her home life, Becca (Ellie Kemper), the newlywed discovering all the "joys" of marriage, and Megan (Melissa McCarthy), Lil's off-the-wall, brutally honest future sister-in-law. Each character is different, adding a dynamic to the group, each given a chance to get their fair share of laughs.

Certain parts of the movie are truly funny, hilarious stuff that had me crying. Okay, one scene, but you get the point. What works, really works. McCarthy as Megan earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, maybe a stretch, but she's the best thing going for this one. She is the rare physical female comedian, not afraid of her weight or size and willing to commit for the laughs. The dress fitting scene post-Brazilian restaurant -- uh-oh, food poisoning! -- is bathroom humor, but it is hysterical in its execution, especially thanks to McCarthy's response. A flight to Vegas for the bachelorette party takes a turn for the worse, Wiig's Annie struggling with the situation and her fear of flying while Megan is sure the passenger (Ben Falcone) is an Air Marshal. These two extended bits rise above the rest, followed closely by Annie's freak-out session at the shower, and bring the most laughs.

It's too bad there couldn't have been more of that humor, the big laughs. Instead this rather long comedy -- at 125 minutes -- decides to go down a not so funny route in the second half. The story goes doom and gloom as Annie starts to pout and freak out about her life situation. And with it, the laughs come to a screeching halt. The story focuses more on her flirting relationship with dream Irish cop, Nate Rhodes (Chris O'Dowd), which feels like any number of romantic comedies you can see elsewhere. Oh no, chick flick alert! It feels like it's been done before, getting away from what made earlier parts of the movie truly funny. Wiig is a very funny and talented actress, but this mid-life crisis the story delves into is disappointing.

Still funny -- sometimes very funny -- but not quite what it was made out to be. And good luck to McCarthy, one of the rising stars in comedy, at the Oscars. I'm sick of hearing about The Help. Bring home a win for Plainfield! The trailer below seems to have a lot of cut scenes too FYI.

Bridesmaids <---trailer (2011): ** 1/2 /****

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