By Hillary Busis
Updated May 13, 2011 at 05:00 PM EDT
  • Movie

Surprise: Even though they’re both raunchy, and they both revolve around weddings, Bridesmaids isn’t really a female version of The Hangover. The grade-A new comedy is actually a mash-up of several other flicks — and using my degree in Fake Mathematics from Pennbrook University, I was able to determine just what those other movies are. Here’s an explanation for my calculations:

1. Start with Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, a goofy 1997 comedy that follows the misadventures of two grown-up but immature BFFs. Bridesmaids stars Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph have great chemistry, just like Romy (Mira Sorvino) and Michele (Lisa Kudrow) themselves — and unlike a lot of pairs of buddies in films aimed at women, in both these movies, it’s easy to understand why these women are actually friends with each other.

2. Multiply that by the sum of three more laughers. The first is Bridget Jones’s Diary, the modern spin on Pride and Prejudice that launched a thousand Austen-centric projects. Wiig’s Annie is a heroine very much in the Bridget Jones mold — like her soul sister across the pond, Annie generally means well but is insecure, accident-prone, and frequently saying and doing things she immediately regrets. Both Annie and Bridget also date douchey rich dudes while simultaneously flirting with dreamy nice dudes who are drawn to the ladies despite their obvious instability.

3. Then there’s The 40-Year-Old Virgin, the first film to be both co-written and directed by Judd Apatow — and the sweetest entry in that prolific comedy whiz’s oevre. Bridesmaids‘s irreverent but grounded tone is definitely Apatovian, as is its largely improvised dialogue, its gooey, beating heart, the frank way its characters talk about sex, and its scene-stealing ensemble. When I saw Virgin, I kept hoping that Jane Lynch’s nutty store manager would get more screen time; when I saw Bridesmaids, I felt the same way about Wendi McLendon-Covey’s world-weary mother of three.

4. Finally, there’s My Best Friend’s Wedding. This Julia Roberts vehicle isn’t in the formula just because it has the word “wedding” in its title. It’s also there because a maid of honor’s jealousy factors prominently into both stories, and because both Wedding and Bridesmaids feature winning, show-stopping musical interludes. (Come to think of it, so does Virgin. And Romy and Michele, in a sense. Hmm…)

5. Oh, and don’t forget the gross-out factor. To complete the equation, add just a smidgen of Harold & Kumar. That bawdy bromance includes a memorable scene in which H & K are forced to listen as a pair of hotties play a game they call “Battles—s.” Bridesmaids takes the concept of pretty ladies pooping a step further in a set piece that should be familiar to anyone who’s seen the movie’s trailers. For the uninitiated, it involves food poisoning and a hoity-toity bridal boutique. You’ll probably want to put down your popcorn during that sequence.

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  • Movie
  • R
  • 124 minutes
  • Paul Feig