Paul Feig's 'Bridesmaids' Transcends The "Chick Flick" Genre [SXSW Review]

Last night I saw a work-in-progress screening of the Judd Apatow-produced Paul Feig-directed comedy Bridesmaids.

While he is beloved by television fanatical/Film readers, Feig is probably the last remaining member of the Apatow clan to not have a break-out film career. Feig is probably best known for creating the short-lived HBC television series Freaks and Geeks, which has gone on to become a cult classic (including a spot in Time Magazines' greatest shows of all time and the 13th best show in the past 25 years according to Entertainment Weekly). Paul has since directed 13 episodes of the US version of The Office, 8 episodes of Arrested Development, and a couple episodes of Weeds, Bored to Death, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation and Mad Men. His 2006 family film Unaccompanied Minors was critically destroyed and failed to attract excitement at the box office.

While this screening was marketed as a work-in-progress (something we don't usually review), Feig revealed on stage pre-screening that the cut we saw was "the final cut" of the movie, only lacking a sound effect or two and a couple minor color timing tweaks. So what did I think? Read my thoughts after the jump!

The film is written by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, and tells the story of two feuding bridesmaids played by Wiig and Rose Byrne (Damages). I know this sounds like one of those really bad "chick flicks" on the surface, but it isn't. Bridesmaids transcends these genres. I think you'll see a lot of people calling this movie a "comedy" rather than "chick flick" and/or "romantic comedy" even though it might technically fall into these categories. Bridesmaids reaches levels of hilarity and heart that these types of movies haven't reached in over a decade.

The movie screened as the second part of a double feature with the  Paul. The packed crowd of over a thousand SXSW film and tech geeks (which I would gestimate consisted of over 80% males) walked out of the double feature praising a "chick flick" over the Simon Pegg/Nick Frost nerd-serviced sci-fi alien comedy Paul is a major achievement.

The movie features Maya Rudolph as the bride, as well as an all-star supporting cast which includes Melissa McCarthyJon Hamm, Matt Lucas, Ellie Kemper, Dianne Wiestand, , Jill Clayburgh, and Chris O'Dowd. Wiig delivers a career-best performance that proves she can do much more above and beyond the sketch comedy and funny characters we're use to. I would be shocked if Wiig isn't nominated for Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical at next year's Golden Globes (ala Emma Stone/Easy A). McCarthy also kills it in every scene she appears.

Bridesmaids takes the Apatow-formula and applies it to a film populated by funny women. I'm sure it will be criticized for being misogynistic, even though it is much less so than his other films, and much much much less Misandristic than most romantic comedies. I've also heard a couple complaints that it is overlong, however I think it might be that the movie didn't begin until a half hour past midnight.

The movie has some great set pieces, the centerpiece of which is not afraid to mix women with potty humor, and does so not just for the gross out laughs, but at the service the story and in a way which escalates to a brilliant crescendo.

Confident, a mix of laugh-out-loud funny, smart, raunchy, and heartbreaking. Bridesmaides is a homerun. Hopefully it will become a box office hit and inspire Hollywood to expand their classification of what a "chick flick" can be and strive for something more. We talk a lot about genre and conventions, but none of that really matters when you have a great movie.

Bridesmaids will be released in theaters on May 13th, 2011,