Life's Pathos and Slapstick

The award for most surprisingly profound film of 2011 might go to Bridesmaids. This story of a woman trying to figure out her path in the midst of witnessing her friend's happiness is a deeply funny, smart film, with stylized characters who live in a recognizably real world: unhappy people who are struggling financially; eccentric people who may remind us of college roommates; people living in envy of the economic resources of others. Bridesmaids is a comforting, intelligent film about one of the most important lacks in our world: the lack of honest connection.

There are so many well-rounded characters: Maya Rudolph as the bride who conveys the challenge of having two best friends at once; Rose Byrne as a privileged ice queen trying to mask her own vulnerability; and the late, great Jill Clayburgh in an hysterically funny supporting role as Kristin Wiig's mother. And perhaps most of all, Melissa McCarthy, playing a significantly overweight woman who could easily have become a scapegoat for fat jokes but, in one of the film's many subversive charms, turns out to be the character most comfortable in her own skin.

It’s not just in the reversal of cultural norms about body image that Bridesmaids transcends the traditional limitations of its genre -- there are subtle references to the way we have accommodated ourselves to the absurd inconveniences of life in the post-9/11 era, along with a thoughtful and honest questioning of the place of sex and sexuality in how to get ahead in life, and in love itself.

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