I have to say that I am surprised at how much I enjoyed our time together. I didn’t doubt that ours would be a familiar and yet amiable time together. What did shock me, though, was the extent to which you exceeded and subverted my expectations. Some of this might be by virtue of your happening to take a female point of view, while some of my surprise came from the fact that you managed the free-form feeling of other similar comedies while never losing sight of your narrative.
Your setup is something of a well-trod environment for most comedies. Your protagonist, Annie, is at a low point in her life. Her relationship is a sham, her career is stalled, and she’s living in most people’s private version of hell. Yet she does her best to avoid dealing with any of these issues, and buries her head in the sand to get through the day. That is, until her best friend announces her engagement and asks her to be her maid of honor. All of this is hard enough to take, but then Hellen steps into the picture, and her ability to control and succeed in just about every facet of life sends Annie on a hilarious downward spiral.
This downward trajectory is followed at a languid and barely structured way, bounding from situation to situation with only the impending date of the wedding to serve as a goal, yet you manage to keep from straying too far for too long, and this helps to make your lack of definition feel like shaggy good naturedness rather than aimless wandering.
As I said, all of this is fairly par for the course when it comes to most modern, grown-up comedies. The beats of your story are fairly easy to predict, especially as character archetypes become defined. The trick is to make the story worth following anyway through the implementation of interesting characters who we want to follow. Luckily, Kristen Wiig instills in Annie a charming sense of self deprecation and wit.
Likewise, she grounds her struggle for agency with enough reality and mania to keep our sympathies with her even as we clearly see the flaws holding her back.
Around her center gathers a ring of bridesmaids and secondary characters that act as perfect foils for Annie. Each of these characters is drawn broadly enough to make them excellent comedic catalysts while at the same time being acted with enough skill to allow them the small character accents that make them something more than cartoons. Ever scene with the whole bridal party is guaranteed to please. Some story points for these characters and conflicts they address are never thoroughly resolved, but then again with an ensamble this big, how could they be?
The point is, every joke and set up in you is landed and paid off wonderfully, and even smaller character details and moments result in a chuckle. The rivalry between Hellen and Annie that results from their desire to affect the wedding makes sense, and though Hellen is painted as comically over-achieving in this regard, she never becomes a formless villain.
Your female cast and lead, actually, create your greatest point of uniqueness. Most raunchy, late-in-the-game coming of age stories focus on men. This is a truth almost universally accepted in Hollywood, because the stereotype of the overgrown man-child is one of the easiest and most readily observable in real life. Men have a kind of default place in pop culture defined by the fact that they appear to be the only ones who have deeply rooted connections to their childhood. Video games, sports, drinking; these are the ties that bind men back to their time as juveniles, easily exploited for films. Women are harder to work, as they often are portrayed as wanting a family, a career, as having to shake the man from his comfortable perch to make him want and value the same things.
Annie is a great comic creation because while she wanted all these things she has allowed herself to stall, to become convinced she cannot achieve those goals. She is not regressive in her nature, only defeated. The desires are there, but the will is sapped, and so she can remain stalled in her life without having the oafish quality of a man.
From your delightful characters to your novel, female-centric moral center, you embody the best of the modern comedy movement. A lot of people seem to question whether women can be funny. I would say you answer that question definitively.
Laughingly in love,
Brian J. Roan