Bridesmaids ★★★★½

"Bridesmaids" hits virtually all the right notes. Director Paul Feig and screenwriters Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig (also lead actress) balance comedy and drama remarkably well. The end result is a highly recommended, thoroughly engaging, smart, witty, and frequently laugh-out-loud hilarious movie blessed with a properly developed story and dramatic heft. I don’t think I’ve had this much fun watching a movie since I saw "Brüno".

The film alternates between clever humor and scatological jokes so elegantly that you wouldn’t believe it. One of the most memorable scenes shows Annie (Wiig) and Helen (Rose Byrne) trying to outdo each other’s toast at Lillian’s (Maya Rudolph) engagement party; another involves food poisoning. But the funniest moment in the movie is arguably the scene in which Annie is in her car with Helen trying to get Officer Rhodes’s (Chris O’Dowd) attention; it’s irresistibly comical.

At its core, however, "Bridesmaids" has something that many other movies of its ilk lack: a heart and soul. Ultimately, that’s why this picture is so easy to embrace. The filmmakers take their characters seriously and treat them with respect. The well-rounded central characters come across as real people with flaws, and even those who have limited screen time give the impression of existing and having their own lives beyond what is shown on the screen.

With a running time of 125 minutes, the film feels slightly too long, but that’s the worst thing I have to say about it. One problem for—rather than with—the movie has to do with the fact that it appears to be a “chick flick,” which it really isn’t. Potential male viewers should definitely not avoid "Bridesmaids", as they will most likely find it quite enjoyable.

The casting is perfect. Wiig plays Annie brilliantly, and I will henceforth regard her as a comedic genius. Equally good is Byrne as Helen, whose ongoing rivalry with Annie results in many delightfully funny scenes; however, Helen turns out to be a more complex and more sympathetic person than her role as Annie’s antagonist would suggest. Melissa McCarthy deserves a special mention for delivering a scene-stealing performance that is memorable in more ways than one; her character, Megan, has a number of great scenes, including one that comes after the first part of the end credits. O’Dowd plays Officer Nathan Rhodes with a simple but attractive charm. While the word “charming” doesn’t exactly apply to Ted, Jon Hamm (uncredited) brings a certain amount of playfulness to and has some fun with the role.

Finally, just an interesting observation that highlights cultural differences as expressed through different film rating systems: in the U.S., "Bridesmaids" is rated R “for some strong sexuality, and language throughout,” whereas the film is considered to be suitable for viewers of all ages here in Sweden.