EVERY GROWN GIRL with a bestie has been down this road: the $300 dress that makes you look eight months pregnant; the trips to the caterer, to the reception site, to Atlantic City or Vegas or Key West; the awkward purchasing of penis straws and slutty lingerie. Asking your girlfriend to be a bridesmaid can be a downright shitty thing to do to a person. All of which is to say that producer Judd Apatow could've tweeted this one in and it'd still be a winner. But what elevates Bridesmaids above the standard-issue chick flick is its cast of whip-smart women, all of whom have surely been down that wallet-draining, drama-instigating path themselves.
Saturday Night Live prime number Kristen Wiig steps out of her Target smock and into the spotlight as Annie, a failed bakery owner/perma-singleton whose best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph, pregnant in real life and not quite able to hide it), gets engaged and quickly falls into the plan-pamper-party vortex all brides-to-be inevitably get sucked into. Only Annie, self-dubbed "maid of dishonor," isn't emotionally — or financially — up to the task of dotting all of her friend's I's. Enter Helen (Rose Byrne), a filthy rich ice princess who swoops in to make good on Annie's bridesmaidly foibles.
Along the way are moments both unnecessary (like Annie's subplot courtship with a lovable cop) and completely insane (a super-gross-out food-poisoned-at-the-bridal-boutique scene, carried by the brilliant Melissa McCarthy, comes to mind), and Wiig occasionally veers into Gilly territory when a non-caricature would've been more endearing. But no matter — the sentiment behind all the silliness is spot-on: Girlfriends play a role in women's lives for which spouses can't even compete, and in the end, Bridesmaids is a celebration of the women who'll gladly stand by your side at the altar, just as they would any other day. (Opens May 13)