Melissa McCarthy positively steals the oxygen from "Bridesmaids" at times, and yet somehow, her performance never overwhelms the movie.
That is not an easy balance to strike in a film, and I've seen any number of comedies where you have a great supporting performance that unbalances the movie, and even if you really enjoy the work, that seems like a problem to me. As much as I'm a fan of anyone who can come in and rip it up and really destroy an audience, I'm a bigger fan of someone who can find a way to carve out their own space in a film while still serving the greater good.
Melissa McCarthy is evidently more iconic for TV viewers than film viewers, and maybe if I'd been a "Gilmore Girls" viewer, I would have already known just how good she can be. Instead, I feel like I'm just catching up on this well-kept secret, and I think movie audiences are going to embrace her in this role in a major way. Hell, I'll go ahead and say it right now… Universal should consider giving us a Megan movie at some point.
Walking into this, McCarthy had plenty of fans of her particular comic persona, but for Rose Byrne, this had to be a nervewracking set. She made a striking appearance in "Get Him To The Greek" as Jackie Q, the occasional pop star girlfriend of Russell Brand's Aldous Snow, the first suggestion that she might have untapped comic chops, and that may have been the thing that helped Judd Apatow when casting was underway on this for Helen, a character who could easily just be the stereotypical "bad guy" of the film. Instead, Byrne made some strong choices that keep Helen interesting and even, at times, sympathetic.
Talking to the two of them together, they both seemed genuinely thankful for the roles they play in th film, and for the opportunity that Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo laid out for them in the script. It was a solid conversation about one of the year's best films so far.
You can read my review for the film from the SXSW Film Festival here.
"Bridesmaids" opens in theaters everywhere this Friday.