Bridesmaids (2011)

Weddings get a bad rep at the movies. Thankfully, any concerns that Bridesmaids would stumble down the same desolate aisle as the likes of Bride Wars and Runaway Bride are quickly dispelled in its opening moments. As Kristen Wiig thrashes around in bed with Mad Men’s Jon Hamm, then spars with roomie Matt Lucas before getting catty with her engaged BFF’s snooty new BFF, it’s clear that Bridesmaids is no Sex And The City 3.

For a start, it has Wiig. As Annie, she’s miserable in the wake of her business’ bankruptcy – but Annie’s life is further complicated when best friend Lillian (Maya Rudlph) gets engaged and asks her to be maid of honour. Making that nearly impossible is Lillian’s prissy new moneyed friend Helen (Rose Byrne), who competes with her for the bride’s attention/affection in the run up to the big day.

Unlike the glut of Hollywood comedies that rev out of the holding bay before quickly running low on fuel, Bridesmaids is the gasser that just keeps going, getting progressively funnier, wilder and more delightfully disgraceful as its journeys ever onward. It’s undeniably Wiig’s show, and the Saturday Night Live actress is more than up to the task, gluing together a string of increasingly hilarious set pieces that include a calamitous dress-fitting session and a riotous plane journey to Vegas. But the secondary characters are more than frosty cake bunting, eliciting big laughs courtesy of shrewd characterisation and some truly devilish gags.

Add to that an ending straight out of a John Hughes movie, replete with frilly frocks and nostalgia-laced pop anthem, and Bridesmaids is as near a perfect summer comedy as we’re ever likely to get. People will call it the female Hangover, but Bridesmaids is better than reductive comparisons. Messy, rude, warm and laugh-out-loud funny, it earns every one of your jubilant cackles. 4/5

Via Out In The City

Insidious (2010)

The dictionary definition of the word ‘insidious’ reads: “spreading gradually or without being noticed, but causing serious harm.” Which makes it the perfect title for this old-school scare-‘em-up from the creators of the first (and best) Saw movie.

Rose Byrne (Damages) and Patrick Wilson (Little Children) play young married couple Renai and Josh, who’ve just moved into a new house with their three kids. But before anybody can whisper, “Could this place be too good to be true?” objects are moving about by themselves and eerie voices are coming over the baby monitor. Then the couple’s eldest, Dalton (Ty Simpkins) slips into a coma, and Renai starts seeing dead things…

So far so eerie. Frustratingly, though, director James Wan and writer/actor Leigh Whannell are only able to cleave to the promise of their title for so long. This is, after all, an American horror movie. So whereas Insidious begins with the kind of restrained, effective boo-scares you’d find in the very best Japanese skin-crawlers, it inevitably gives in to the cheesy demands of more mainstream horror fare.

Which is a shame, because the deftly-crafted chills of Insidious’ first half err on the (dark)side of genuinely unsettling, with Wan and Whannell rustling up some commendably hair-raising stingers – some so ingenious that it’d be a crime to blow the surprises here. These moments are frequently so effective that they make plot-sibling Poltergeist – to which Wan owes a thing or two – look like Carry On Haunting. Other points in the plus column include an insane, galvanising score, as well as a psychic Lin Shaye and her two comedy-relief assistants.

Insidious, however, blows its chances at becoming a genre stalwart with its overly-flashy second half, undoing the stellar scare work with a climax that attempts to creep up on you with all the subtlety of an elephant on rollerskates. 3/5

Via Out In The City