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Bridesmaids, Potiche, Priest and DOXA documentaries

Female bonding, but also competition and back biting, are at play in Bridesmaids.

How unusual. No superheroes this week. Just a vampire-killing priest, and he wasn’t even previewed for the media. So, for a welcome change, the women get some unobstructed screen time in this week's batch of movies.

Here’s the list: 

Bridesmaids 3 ½ stars

Potiche 3 ½

DOXA documentaries

On the Bowery 4 stars

Priest --

 

BRIDESMAIDS: This is being sold as a women’s version of The Hangover and there are similarities. These women talk and behave badly in the days leading up to a wedding (they also set out for Las Vegas) and there are some gross scenes. It’s funny, but not as clever or as relentlessly hilarious as The Hangover. It does accomplish something rare, though, by delivering a plausible story about friendship and competition among women with laughs, empathy and a certain sweetness.

Kristen Wiig, who stars and co-wrote this with an old pal from her Los Angeles improv days, has a sharp eye for funny awkward moments and brings out a catalogue of female insecurities. Her cupcake business has failed. She has big debts and a puny love life (with a chauvinist played by Jon Hamm of TV’s Mad Men). When her best friend (Maya Rudolph) asks her to be her maid of honor, a long-time rival (Rose Byrne) pushes her way in and takes over the wedding preparations.

Wiig, meanwhile, is too self-absorbed to appreciate the friendly connection offered by a police officer (Chris O’Dowd) who catches her speeding a few times. “Wanna talk to a cop?” he says. “We’re just like priests.” No she doesn't, and the catalogue of humiliation continues. The highlight, if you want to call it that and many at the preview screening did laugh uproariously, is the aftermath of an excursion she leads to a dodgy Mexican restaurant. Some wedding dresses, a sink and even (by suggestion) a sidewalk get terribly messed up. (Did I tell you that Judd Apetow, the raunchy comedy expert, is the producer?) The film is astute on female bonding and has well-written characters, well-played by the actors. It’s uneven though, and crowded with excess plot, including Jill Clayburgh’s final film role as Wiig’s mom. It comes across as superfluous, possibly because the producers cut out her best scenes so that her last movie lines would not be mostly dirty jokes. (The Ridge, International Village and several suburban theatres) 3 ½out of 5

POTICHE: A trophy wife rises above her station in this lightweight but enjoyable French farce. It’s peppy and colorful but also uneven because it’s a little too stuffed with plot. Besides feminism, it’s got things to say about workers’ rights, abusive bosses, social classes, family, marriage, adultery, middle class hypocrisy, gay self-doubt and even paternity. (Well, it is a French farce). A hint of globalization also stirs into the mix, although, like most of these issues, not deeply enough to dampen the frothy entertainment.

Catherine Deneuve shines as the woman at the centre; content in a comfortable life tending her garden, writing poetry and serving her husband. She may or may not know he’s a philanderer and an obnoxious manager at the umbrella factory he runs. The peace, and her illusions, are shattered when the workers go on strike, hold him hostage and she is called in to negotiate with the union leaders. She wears her best jewels to, as she says, “honor the workers.” She learns fast, though, settles the dispute and takes over as boss while her husband is in hospital.

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