SXSW: 'Welcome to Kristen Wiig Appreciation Night!'
So declared director Paul Feig before a midnight screening of Bridesmaids at Austin’s SXSW Film Festival. The lanky SNL actress did a cute little curtsy up on stage, where she’d earlier endeared herself to the sold-out crowd before the U.S. premiere of the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost geek alien comedy, Paul. Wiig plays a one-eyed Christian who teams up with Pegg and Frost’s comic book-loving nerds to save an alien from government clutches. The Greg Mottola-directed Paul played enormously well in front of the Austin crowd. “We were at North by Northeast last week and it was sh–,” joked Frost, who upped his appeal with locals by wearing a Texas Longhorns jersey.
Next on the docket was an advance screening of the Kristen Wiig-penned comedy Bridesmaids, which I feared might be a by-the-numbers female spin on The Hangover. But the movie felt fresh and funny, with the right blend of sweet and wicked. Wiig plays a delightful mess of a maid of honor, and I don’t mean the kind of mess we’re used to seeing women play. She doesn’t trip in front of the cute guy or drag toilet paper out of the bathroom on her heel or agonize over why she’s always a bridesmaid and never the bride. She sleeps around (with Jon Hamm, in a deliciously obnoxious turn) and gets kicked off planes and lives with her Mom.
What makes this film such a treat is that it isn’t the story of a woman who wants to get the guy in the end. Wiig’s Annie really just wants her best friend (played by the always divine Maya Rudolph) back. The girls are the stars here, to the point where I don’t think Rudolph’s fiance utters a single word throughout the entire movie. Extra special love for Melissa McCarthy, who inexplicably elevates her hulking beefcake of a bridesmaid out of caricature zone. And a shout-out to the brilliant poop-your-pants scene, which made me laugh even harder than the ones from Two Weeks Notice and Sex & the City. And that’s saying something.
Paul opens in theaters on March 18.
Bridesmaids opens on May 13. (Incidentally, the movie is better than this trailer.)