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Bridesmaids is an exploration of female friendships, neurosis, insecurity, sex, and jealousy, but even male audiences who normally shun this type of film will find it far more enjoyable than the likes of Sex And The City and its dire sequel.

Bridesmaids has been written by SNL regular Kirsten Wiig with help from Anna Mumulo and mixes some sharp humour, gross out humour and farcical moments. The film offers genuine laughs, and shows that women can do gross out comedy just as well as the men! And as with most of Apatow’s work, there is a sweet nature beneath the vulgarity.

Wiig also plays the film’s central character, Annie, a thirtysomething neurotic, lovelorn and highly-strung woman with low self-esteem. But things gets worse when she is asked to be the maid of honour for her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph, also from SNL). The other bridesmaids are a colourful bunch, each with their own ideas on marriage. The bridal party includes Megan (Melissa McCarthy from Mike & Molly, The Gilmore Girls), mother of three Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey), the naïve Becca (Ellie Kemper, from The Office), and the rich and over confident trophy wife Helen (Aussie Rose Byrne). But when Helen tries to exert her own beliefs and take over proceedings, the rivalry between the two women threatens to derail the wedding plans altogether.

The cast is generally very good and throw themselves into the material with enthusiasm. Wiig makes Annie’s sad sack character painful and real, but she is also very good with the slapstick, physical comedy. Byrne has started to carve out a career in Hollywood films, and she seems to be enjoying this rare foray into comedy, relishing the bitchy dialogue.

McCarthy steals several scenes as the crass, overweight Megan, who unexpectedly turns out to have a heart of gold. And this film features the last appearance of the late Jill Clayburgh, who plays Annie’s mother. She brings her usual grace and dignity to her few scenes.

The director is Paul Fieg, a veteran of television series like Freaks And Geeks, and he handles the off colour material with flair and energy. One of the more tasteless but hilarious scenes involves the girls suffering the after effects of a debilitating bout of food poisoning while visiting an upmarket, exclusive bridal boutique. With some projectile vomiting and lots of references to excrement, this is as good as anything in the films of Apatow and co.