Bridesmaids

Universal Pictures

Rated R

No Holds Barred in Cutthroat Maid of Honor Competition

Annie Walker (Kristen Wiig) has been in a tailspin since her bakery, “Cake Baby,” failed during the recession. She’s presently in danger of losing the job she got at a jewelry store after a member of her mother’s (Jill Clayburgh) support group took pity on her.

Annie’s problems at work stem from her bad habit of openly expressing her skepticism about marriage to customers shopping for engagement rings. She has good reason to be cynical, between hearing her biological clock ticking and her poor track record in relationships, including the shallow guy (John Hamm) she’s currently involved with who treats her like a doormat.

Annie is also close to being kicked out of her apartment by her roommates (Rebel Wilson and Matt Lucas) for falling behind in rent which means she might have to move back in with her mom. All of the above make it easy to understand why Annie has such mixed emotions upon being asked to be her best friend Lillian’s (Maya Rudolph) Maid of Honor.

On the one hand, she’s happy the ecstatic bride-to-be has finally landed Doug (Tim Heidecker), the man of her dreams. On the other hand, however, the impending fairytale wedding promises to serve as a constant reminder to the thirty-something spinster that she’s not getting any younger and what an unmitigated mess her life has become.

These diverging fortunes set the stage for a boatload of laughs in Bridesmaids, a screwball comedy directed by Paul Feig. The screenplay was co-written Kristen Wiig who enjoys her best big screen outing to date courtesy of a vulnerable character displaying oodles of that trademark sarcasm we’ve witnessed in sketches on Saturday Night Live for years.

The plot thickens when the other bridesmaids are introduced, and Annie suddenly finds herself constantly in competition with Helen (Rose Byrne), the filthy-rich wife of the groom’s boss (Andy Buckley). Even though Helen hasn’t known Lillian very long, she shamelessly lobbies to replace hapless Annie as the Maid of Honor because she has the bucks, taste and class to help plan a more lavish bridal shower, bachelorette party and wedding reception.

The only other bridesmaid of consequence is Doug’s larger than life (literally and figuratively) sister, Megan, played to perfection by scene-stealer Melissa McCarthy in a peerless performance. Motor-mouthed Megan intermittently provides comic relief as a constant reminder that the escalating tension between Annie and Helen shouldn’t be taken seriously, especially once the former finds herself being wooed by an Irish cop with a heart of gold (Chris O’Dowd).

An estrogen-fueled adventure featuring madcap hilarity ranging from the scatological to the sublime!

Excellent (4 stars)

Running time: 125 minutes

 

Hey Boo

First Run Features

Unrated

Intriguing Documentary Revisits To Kill A Mockingbird

In 1961, Harper Lee, an unknown white woman from a small town in Alabama, won a Pulitzer Prize for her groundbreaking novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Released at the height of the African-American struggle against Jim Crow segregation, the book played a pivotal role in raising the country’s awareness of racism while simultaneously serving to shame the South about its disgraceful legacy of lynching, oppression and discrimination.

A couple of years later, the screen adaptation of the best seller earned several Academy Awards, including Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor. Gregory Peck delivered his career performance as Atticus Finch, an attorney defending a black man unfairly accused of rape.

Unfortunately, Harper Lee basically became a recluse after 1964, which is when she granted her last interview with the press. She also never published another novel, which has led to considerable speculation about the reasons for her silence and for her failure to write again.

After all, she and Truman Capote had been best friends as children, and it is apparent that the characters Scout and Jem in “To Kill a Mockingbird” are based on the two of them. Their relationship would endure into adulthood, and it was even the subject of a recent biopic about Capote.

All of the above and more fascinating factoids are unearthed in Hey, Boo, as intriguing a documentary as you could ever hope to encounter. Since Ms. Lee did not cooperate with the project, director Mary Murphy depended on the reflections of luminaries like Oprah, Tom Brokaw, Andrew Young Jon Meacham and Scott Turow for insight into the reasons for the very private author’s uncompromising withdrawal from the public eye.

What turns out to be perhaps most compelling is how closely To Kill A Mockingbird mirrors events which transpired in Lee’s own life. For instance, she was a tomboy and the same age as Scout, six, at the time that her father, a lawyer like Atticus, was representing a black man accused of a crime he didn’t commit.

A fitting tribute to a true American icon, a half century after she subtly helped shape the course of history and left an indelible mark on the country’s conscience.

Excellent (4 stars)

Running time: 82 Minutes

 

Opening This Week

 

The Beaver (PG-13). Jodie Foster directs and co-stars opposite Mel Gibson in this ventriloquist’s dummy dramedy about a depressed CEO who only talks to his wife and sons (Anton Yelchin and Riley Thompson Stewart) through his hand puppet. With Jennifer Lawrence, Cherry Jones and Zachary Booth and featuring cameos by Terry Gross, Jon Stewart and Matt Lauer.

 

Midnight in Paris (PG-13). Woody Allen’s romantic comedy about the troubles of a couple (Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams) who find themselves reevaluating their elusive dreams while in France on business. With Kathy Bates, Michael Sheen, Marion Cotillard, Adrien Brody, Alison Pill, Tom Hiddleston and Carla Bruni.

 

Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (Not Yet Rated). Fourth installment of the seafaring franchise finds Captain Jack (Johnny Depp) forced to search for the Fountain of Youth aboard the ship of the legendary Blackbeard (Ian McShane) after falling for the notorious outlaw’s daughter (Penelope Cruz). With Geoffrey Rush, Judi Dench and Keith Richards.

 

The Big Uneasy (Unrated). New Orleans resident Harry Shearer wrote, directed and narrated this damning expose’ uncovering the truth behind why the levees failed during Hurricane Katrina.

 

Bloodworth (R). Kris Kristofferson stars in the title role of this dysfunctional family drama about a prodigal patriarch whose return to his tiny Tennessee hometown 40 years after walking out on his wife (Frances Conroy) is met with the resentment of his ex and their three maladjusted sons (Val Kilmer, Dwight Yoakam and W. Earl Brown). With Hilary Duff, Reece Thompson and Brent Briscoe.

 

Cost Of A Soul (R). Brotherly Love crime saga about a couple of wounded war veterans (Chris Kerson and Will Blagrove) who return from Iraq only to end up back in the same Philly slums they joined the military to escape. With Mark Borkowski, Judy Jerome and Nakia Dillard.

 

Hard Breakers (Unrated). Date-rape comedy revolving around a couple of best friends (Sophie Monk and Cameron Richardson) embittered by the battle-of-the-sexes who turn the table on men by knocking them out in order to have their way with them. Cast includes Tom Arnold, Chris Kattan, Sticky Fingaz, Tia Carrere, Alexis Arquette and Stephen Tobolowsky.

 

Life 2.0 (Unrated). Virtual reality documentary examining how fantasy relationships have transformed players of Second Life, an internet computer game where one assumes an avatar identity to immerse oneself in an online digital universe.

 

Lost Bohemia (Unrated). Gentrification documentary about the protracted legal battle to prevent the conversion to office space of the century-old, studio apartments above Carnegie Hall which have been home to such artists as Marlon Brando, Isadora Duncan and Paddy Chayefsky.

 

Louder Than A Bomb (Unrated). Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel (Gene’s nephew) co-directed this performance-driven documentary following the fortunes of four teams of high school students competing in Chicago’s annual poetry slam.

 

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