WHAT A LAUGH

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Film -

dom­i­nated by hi­lar­i­ous women, none more so than its lead ac­tress and co-writer, Kris­ten Wiig, who was de­scribed last year by Si­mon Pegg (her co-star in the alien com­edy Paul) as ‘‘ the fun­ni­est woman on the planet’’.

Wiig plays An­nie, the for­mer man­ager of a failed bak­ery, whose love life is head­ing the same way as her old busi­ness. When her dear­est friend (played by Maya Ru­dolph) ap­points her as maid of hon­our at her wed­ding, the chasm be­tween the two women’s for­tunes leads to tantrums and jeal­ousy, not to men­tion a fren­zied as­sault on a heart-shaped cookie.

If Brides­maids has at­tracted com­par­isons with male gross-out come­dies, that says more about the mar­ket­place than the movie. Not only is it a char­ac­ter-driven piece from which the gags emerge or­gan­i­cally (give or take a mass vom­it­ing scene sug­gested by Apa­tow), it is also res­o­lutely not The Hang­over in drag. Brid­get Jones with fangs and claws may be nearer the truth.

‘‘ Peo­ple don’t seem to sep­a­rate drama into male and fe­male,’’ Wiig notes when we meet on a spring af­ter­noon at a Bev­erly Hills ho­tel. ‘‘ With com­edy, it’s al­ways, ‘ Oh, look, funny women, fe­male hu­mour.’ I do think men and women can laugh at dif­fer­ent things be­cause some­times we speak a dif­fer­ent lan­guage. But, re­ally, funny is funny.’’

In­deed, it’s a weirdly con­de­scend­ing sen­si­bil­ity that would siphon off fe­male comic per­form­ers as strong as Wiig, Fey, Ru­dolph, Sarah Silverman, Emma Stone, Anna Faris, Lucy Punch and Kather­ine Parkin­son into some sort of mi­nor league, un­fit to com­pete with the big boys.

Wiig, 37, looks tanned and slen­der in a dark blue dress with a flo­ral mo­tif. She’s sport­ing a large turquoise ring that seems es­pe­cially un­wieldy against her tiny hands; a bul­bous gold amulet dan­gles around her neck. It’s strik­ing how sane and re­laxed she ap­pears, with no trace of the reined-in, ra­dioac­tive ma­nia of the char­ac­ters she has played dur­ing her six years (and count­ing) on the ever­green Amer­i­can tele­vi­sion sketch show Satur­day Night Live.

These in­clude the Tar­get Lady, a ma­ni­a­cal sales as­sis­tant; Aunt Linda, a grumpy film re­viewer who greets movies with a dis­dain­ful ‘‘ Whaaaat?’’; Gilly, a sin­is­terly smil­ing school­girl prone to sneak at­tacks on her teacher; and Pene­lope, the com­pul­sive one­up­per who twirls her hair around one fin­ger and reels off im­prob­a­ble boasts in a mad­den­ing mono­tone.

These are abra­sive nitwits and in­tro­spec­tive fan­ta­sists, but the soli­tary hint of kook­i­ness in their cre­ator lies in her over­sized jew­ellery, which sug­gests a child who has ran­sacked her mother’s dresser.

SNL’s pro­ducer, Lorne Michaels, has ranked Wiig as one of the ‘‘ top three or four’’ cast mem­bers of all time — high praise in a se­ries that launched Fey, Will Fer­rell, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Mur­ray, Mike My­ers, Ed­die Mur­phy and many oth­ers. De­spite the show’s hec­tic weekly sched­ule, Wiig has also put in the hours in an­i­ma­tion voiceover ( De­spi­ca­ble Me, How to Train Your

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