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Movie review

I’m not a woman, but I’ve been to enough weddings in my lifetime to know that, as a ritual, this can be the pinnacle. Planning a wedding can be the most stressful, expensive and downright mind-blowing processes for anyone to go through.

With that in mind, Kristin Wiig and her writing partner, Annie Mumolo, have concocted “Bridesmaids,” which takes a page from every nightmare wedding and slaps it on the screen, to hilarious effect.

Wiig plays Annie, an aimless woman who has been knocked around by life a bit lately. She had a cake shop business that’s closed, has a contentious relationship with her mother (the late Jill Clayburgh, in her last role), and financially, she’s in the toilet.

What she DOES have is a best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph), and they do everything together. Then, Lillian breaks the big news that she’s getting married and wants Annie to be her Maid of Honor. This sends Annie into a tailspin. And when she meets Lillian’s social-climbing future sister-in-law, Helen (Rose Byrne), all hell breaks loose.

Annie and Helen are immediate enemies, each one trying to outdo the other in giving Lillian the best wedding possible. Throw into the mix a motley crew of fellow bridesmaids (most especially, Melissa McCarthy in a dynamite performance), and the film is on it’s way to an escalating series of mishaps,  including one set on a plane heading to Vegas that’s about twice as laugh-inducing as anything in any other recent comedy.

To say that “Bridesmaids” is the female answer to “The Hangover” isn’t too much of a stretch and may actually have been what Wiig and Mumolo had in mind. Director Paul Feig certainly doesn’t skimp on the gross-outs and pratfalls, but what this film has that the other doesn’t is a tremendous amount of heart and emotion. You can’t help but hope these women work out their differences because you care so much about them.

The performances are spot on, especially Wiig, who brings such a wonderful physicality to the role. She goes places other actresses fear to go, lest they look stupid or less-than-glamorous. She’s ably supported by Rose Byrne and Maya Rudolph, who bring just the right touch to the proceedings.

There are some elements of the film that don’t work, sadly. The chief complaint is that it’s just too darn long! A subplot involving Annie’s roommates is funny, but adds nothing to the main plot and could easily have ended up in the DVD extras. Also, Annie’s romance with an Irish cop (Chris O’Dowd) is sweet and essential, but had one too many roadbumps built in to sustain interest.

However, these are minor quibbles in what is essentially a rollicking good time at the movies. I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve laughed so loud and long in a theater.

Take your inner-bridezilla out on a date and see it!

BRIDESMAIDS Dir: Paul Feig; Scr: Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo; Stars: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph. Rated R