Judd Apatow and his proteges made their names poking at the rituals of the young American male. Can his comedy incubator, which gave us such movies as "Superbad" and "Knocked Up," turn out something equally hilarious for and about women?
That's the question posed by "Bridesmaids," an ensemble female comedy coming out this May about -- of course -- a wedding and the run-up to it. It seems like a Tina Fey-Amy Poehler special, but it's actually cast from a lower-profile comedy crew ("SNL" and otherwise): Maya Rudolph, Kristen Wiig, Ellie Kemper and Rose Byrne, among others. The movie also marks the feature-writing and lead-billing debut of Wiig, who stole the show in walk-on parts in "Ghost Town" and others, playing the maid of honor.("Freaks and Geeks" creator Paul Feig directed; Apatow, who executive produced that series, is credited here as a producer.)
Judging by the trailer, "Bridesmaids" treads lots of familiar wedding-comedy ground -- the enormousness of the bridesmaid task, the cattiness/smugness of some of the women in the party, the gap between the single and married -- and mixes in flatulence and other R-rated jokes (largely delivered by Melissa McCarthy of "Mike & Molly)." (You can view the trailer here.)
The whole enterprise raises the question of whether Apatow's innovations translate across gender lines. The filmmaker broke ground over the past six years by combining the gross-out with sweetness. If it felt revolutionary, it was because most male comedies usually lacked the latter.
The female version, by necessity, kind of has to try the opposite. We've seen the treacly women-bonding movie before, but will it all feel fresh with the right amount of pointed R-rated observation (and will it come off better than the scatological humor in "Sex and the City")? If you broke out more than one or two smiles at the trailer, you have a more ticklish funny bone than we (and several of our female colleagues) do. Then again, some of the Apatow crew's best humor is situational, so maybe best to give a first trailer the benefit of the doubt. For now.
-- Steven Zeitchik
Photo: "Bridesmaids." Credit: Suzanne Hanover / Universal Pictures