Sunday, October 2, 2011

BLU-RAY REVIEW/Bridesmaids
"Bridesmaids" Busts Out Of Its Hollow Shell On Blu-Ray

Kristen Wiig as Annie Walker in Paul Feig's comedy "Bridesmaids". 

Omar P.L. Moore/        Follow popcornreel on Twitter FOLLOW                                           
ay, October 2, 2011

"Bridesmaids" was a less-than-stellar comedy when it opened on the big screen in the U.S. in May and remains underwhelming today.  What makes the film's Blu-Ray great however, are its abundant extras, extended and deleted scenes and many comedic moments including those involving the late Jill Clayburgh and funnyman Paul Rudd, hilarious in the "Blind Date" and "Dave-O-Rama" sections of the disc, which is packed with features.

If only these were part of the finished film product itself. 

Paul Feig (pronounced "feeg") directs "Bridesmaids", which has exactly three funny scenes.  "Bridesmaids" features Kristen Wiig, the Saturday Night Live alum who wrote the script with Annie Mumolo.  Ms. Wiig plays Annie, a single woman in her thirties whose best friend Lillian (SNL's Maya Rudolph) is getting married.  Annie competes with Helen (Rose Byrne) for Lillian's BFF status, and does so while Lillian's bridesmaids head to Las Vegas for one last fun-filled weekend before they lose their good friend to holy matrimony.

"Bridesmaids" feature s strong work from Ms. Wiig, whose eyes carry a despair that's unsettling.  She embodies Annie's insecurities well at the sight of Helen.  There are parts of Ms. Wiig's performance that run deeper than "Bridesmaids" deserves.  Ms. Rudolph and Melissa McCarthy are also in fine form, and Chris O'Dowd is memorable as a cop who pretends not to notice Annie speeding, in one of the film's funniest sequences.  Jon Hamm ("The Town", "Mad Men") even has time for a good parody of a heartless schmuck of a guy who has women as playthings for supper and breakfast.

There are parts of "Bridesmaids", which totals two hours and five minutes, that are overlong and redundant.  While the film isn't impressive it's vastly more entertaining than "The Hangover Part II", which should have been named "The Hangnail Part, Too".  "Bridesmaids" keeps its humor on mostly elementary levels with comedic material that isn't especially shiny or new.  The ladies of "Bridesmaids" have a camaraderie and certitude however, that makes them real.  The openness between them is identifiable to many women even if every situation (including some of those funny speeding car scenarios) is not.  The film's look at class and commitment is earnest and whenever Annie twirls up a fleshy, undistinguished dress it's as much a reminder of the existence of have-nots as it is Annie's emotionally meager connections to romance, to herself, or society in general.

The audio commentary track is the liveliest aspect of the "Bridesmaids" Blu-Ray, and the sorority house atmosphere and random conversations on it is a refreshing if riotous departure from the rote affair of DVD commentaries.  On the track Mr. Feig, Ms. Wiig, Ms. Rudolph, Ms. Kemper, Wendy McLendon-Covey and Ms. McCarthy laugh it up and tell some amusing stories, sometimes all at once.  For better or worse on the track there's time for some live-tweeting, and Mr. Feig reads several tweets and gets his cast members to respond.  Throughout the commentary Ms. Rudolph and Ms. McCarthy are mostly quiet, but you can tell who they are when they speak, even if you don't hear them being called by name on occasion.

"Bridesmaids" on Blu-Ray has a pristine, colorful look, slightly saturated and even a tad lurid in some scenes, which of course, is all deliberate.  The film is in 1080p high-definition widescreen (anamorphic format) and DTS-HD 5.1 audio.  The film's menus are lively 3D affairs involving each main character, with the rock song "Rip Her To Shreds" serenading throughout, sometimes too much, to the point of mild annoyance.  There isn't a mute button for the music accompanying the menus, however. 

There's lots to see and choose from, and it took me at least a week to get through every aspect of this release.  There's a screensaver that boasts a huge logo of the studio (Universal) should you become entranced or numbed by all the options to choose from.  After roughly five minutes the screensaver will show on screen.  You can hit the "OK" button on your Blu-Ray remote to return to your scene of hypnotism.

The Blu-Ray has the theatrical R-rated release and the unrated version of "Bridesmaids" on the same disc, though there's very little difference between the two.  I noticed perhaps one difference, even if the unspectacular unrated version is six minutes longer than the one that was in theaters this year.  The unrated version doesn't have any especially noteworthy, sexy, violent or raunchy scenes that the word "unrated" often connotes. 

For those who prefer to watch films on their computers, iPads or iPhones there's a customary digital download copy of the film that must be downloaded no later than February 25, 2012.  The Blu-Ray also has a separate DVD disc of the film, which contains many, if not all, of the special features and extras the Blu-Ray has.  Fans of trailers will be disappointed, because for all of its additions neither disc has a trailer of "Bridesmaids" itself, though you could make many different trailers out of its supplements.

Overall for its features "Bridesmaids" is great.  Approximately four additional hours of features are available, including a 30-minute behind-the-scenes documentary and a look at "The Longest Argument", a funny ten-minute edition of a shorter scene in the Cholodecki's Jewelry Store in Milwaukee where Annie squares off verbally with a customer.  In the extended take, even with Ms. Wiig's caustic, vulgar rejoinder that always cuts deep and rough in any setting, it's the customer who gets the lionesses' share of the slugfest.  The customer is always right, and the "Bridesmaids" Blu-Ray package rewards.

"Bridesmaids" is rated R by the Motion Picture Association Of America for some strong sexuality and language throughout.  The film's running time is two hours and five minutes.  The unrated version is two hours and 11 minutes.

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