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If there was a movie I was rooting for to succeed this year, it’s this comedy that, from the advance publicity, set out to be a female answer to the kind of male-bonding comedies Judd Apatow has been making for the past decade. And you can’t beat the premise: the comic travails of a group of women preparing to be bridesmaids at a friend’s wedding.

At least that’s what I thought the premise was. Bridesmaids turns out not to be an ensemble comedy but rather a bid to move Rochester’s Kristen Wiig up to the next step after SNL popularity and scene-stealing character roles in other people’s movies. She wrote the film (with her former Groundlings partner Annie Mumolo) and stars as Annie, whose life is going nowhere fast. Her business has failed, her lover (Jon Hamm, funny as a jerk who couldn’t be more different from Don Draper) only wants her for occasional sex, and her roommates are ganging up against her. On top of this, her BFF Lillian (Maya Rudolph) is getting married, and Annie finds herself in competition for maid of honor duties with Lillian’s new friend Helen (Rose Byrne), a woman with a rich husband and too much empty time on her hands.

Almost chaotically inconsistent, Bridesmaids plays like Wiig and Mumolo crammed bits of three different story ideas into one film, without smoothing over the inconsistencies. (At 125 minutes, it’s at least a half hour too long.) Annie’s depressed circumstances are played too straight to match the broader comic parts, which go as low as a scene with the bridal party suffering from food poisoning at a ritzy dress shop. There isn’t enough chemistry built up between Annie and Lillian to give the story of friendship fading any real poignancy. And too many comic bits drag on and on like those endless SNL skits, especially Annie trying to one-up Helen at the engagement party.

The director is Paul Feig, of the brilliant TV series Freaks and Geeks, which makes this mess all the more disappointing.

m. faust

Watch the trailer for Bridesmaids

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