ONE of the reservations about the undoubtedly successful comedies from the Judd Apatow stable has always been that the laddish humour seems to require women to be presented as either bimbos or harridans - and certainly with no depth of character.
The producer of Knocked Up and The 40-Year-Old Virgin lends his name to Bridesmaids (Cert 15) which at first glance seems to be a distaff version of The Hangover - women behaving badly in the build-up to a wedding but ultimately proves to have a lot more depth to it than that.
Co-written by and starring Saturday Night Live comedienne Kirsten Wiig as Annie, an accident-prone thirtysomething who once ran her own bakery but has fallen on hard times and now works as a jewellery saleswoman, a job she despises. Her love life is at rock bottom too.
When her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) announces her engagement Annie assumes the duties of maid of honour. But, in America at least, it seems the duties are much more demanding than for blokes where being best man means just needing to organise a stag do, remember the ring, and tell a few jokes. Annie finds herself having to show enthusiasm for dress fittings, a bridal shower and a bachelorette trip to Las Vegas (and we know from The Hangover what can happen there) while strapped for cash alongside wealthy socialite wife Helen (Rose Byrne) who clearly wants to oust her from Lillian’s affections.
There are some fart and vomit gags but it is blended with some sharply observed dialogue and dry humour all grounded in an emotional core about friendship and love.
In a fine ensemble Rose Byrne as the scheming Helen and Melissa McCarthy as mountainous man-eater Megan stand out while the men hardly get a look-in - Mad Men’s Jon Hamm as a callous stud and Chris O’Dowd’s droll Irish traffic cop who is obviously Annie’s true soulmate if she could only recognise it.
But it’s really Kristen Wiig’s show and she is not only gloriously funny but creates an adorably daffy character in the shape of Annie.
lThe Audience Award at this year’s Sheffield Doc/Fest went to Give Up Tomorrow, directed by Michael Collins and produced by Marty Syjuco.
Produced in association with BBC Storyville and supported by the Tribeca All Access and the Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund, Give Up Tomorrow describes the miscarriage of justice and corruption surrounding the murder of the Chiong sisters in the Philippines in 1997.