Every few weeks for the foreseeable future, Vulture will be selecting one film to watch as part of our Friday Night Movie Club. This week’s selection comes from Vulture contributor Shannon Carlin, who will begin her screening of Bridesmaids on April 30 at 7 p.m. ET. Head to Vulture’s Twitter to catch her live commentary.
It’s been a decade since Bridesmaids gave us cinema’s most significant bout of diarrhea. (My apologies to Nomadland and its Academy Award–winning bucket dump.) In that time, legions of fans have sung the praises of the movie’s most memorable bits: Kristen Wiig and Rose Byrne’s engagement-party speech-off, Wendi McLendon-Covey’s ability to crack blankets in half, and, of course, Melissa McCarthy’s volcanic sink eruption.
No disrespect to that explosive moment, but as we celebrate the tenth anniversary of Bridesmaids this week, it’s well past time we toss the bouquet to the film’s impressive bit players — the comedy’s co-writer, Annie Mumolo, who cameos as a panicked flight passenger; Jessica St. Clair’s beleaguered bridal-shop attendee; McCarthy’s real-life hubby Ben Falcone, a.k.a. Air Marshal Jon; and the man referred to as Stove, Mitch Silpa. Unlike the titular bridesmaids, these co-stars didn’t become household names because of director Paul Feig’s blockbuster, but their dedication to their minor roles helped make Bridesmaids a comedy classic.
No one better exemplifies this than St. Clair, who deserves her flowers while she can still smell them, especially since there’s no way her character Whitney — the holier-than-thou Belle en Blanc sales associate who witnesses the gastrointestinal attack on the high-end bridal shop’s bathroom — would have wanted to take a whiff back then. She has only a handful of lines in the seven-minute-and-change scene, her sole appearance in the film, but she’s hard to forget. As the ragtag bride tribe enters the store, Whitney welcomes them to “heaven.” She’s the angel on high, there to serve those who come to pray at the altar of haute couture wedding gowns. If only Whitney could have foreseen the stunning digestive pyrotechnics that would light up her powder room, she wouldn’t have broken her no-walk-ins rule; she would’ve sent them straight to David’s Bridal.
With her Crest Whitestripped smile and her blonde hair pulled into a tight chignon (the word Whitney would most definitely use to describe her coif), she sells them on what McCarthy’s Megan calls the “classy shit” before the literal stuff starts hitting everything but the fan. It’s potty humor at its finest, but, for her, watching the havoc grayish lamb and weird chicken wreak on the GI tract is a straight-up horror show. The fear is visible in her face, which contorts from genuine concern over Megan nearly blowing chunks on the white carpet to total panic when she realizes she’s in charge of the cleanup. How does one get skid marks out of a Lady St. Petsois JuJu, I wonder? Through it all, she’s the scene’s glue, staying committed to minimizing the damage from a particular strain of food poisoning where you’re not quite sure which end it will come out of.
Admittedly, St. Clair has a “terrible gag reflex” and Bridesmaids’ signature scene took four days to shoot. But no one should be surprised by her dedication. After all, she’s an Upright Citizens Brigade alumna who got her start as the gonzo Elaine May to fellow UCBer Jason Mantzoukas’s cuckoo-bananas Mike Nichols. (On the Mantzoukas-co-hosted podcast How Did This Get Made?, she once talked about the time she ate a lobster roll on a commercial flight, a fitting companion to her Bridesmaids appearance.)
In fact, the movie’s best character actors got their start “yes and …”-ing with another prestigious improv troupe, the Groundlings. Mumolo met Wiig there in the early aughts, forming a friendship built on endearingly bizarre characters like recent culotte devotees Barb and Star. In Bridesmaids, one of the funniest one-offs centers on Mumolo, who plays an unhinged seatmate with a fear of flying to match that of Wiig’s character. Word to the wise: If someone tells you they had a dream about the plane crashing and you were in it, you should exit said plane immediately.
Falcone was a Groundling with McCarthy in the 2010s, as was Silpa, who plays flight attendant Stove Steve. (Fun fact: Silpa’s also the creator of one of the first viral YouTube videos.) In the film, both are the straight men to their wackier female counterparts. Serious kudos must be given to Falcone for mostly keeping a stone face as McCarthy asks his Air Marshal Jon if he stores his gun “between the cheeks.” (Though even he can’t keep it totally together when she starts detailing all the ways she can easily remove an iPod Nano from her own anal cavity.)
When Silpa corrects a zonked-out Wiig, who believes being kicked out of first class is an infringement on her civil rights, on what decade it actually is, he does so with the energy of a put-upon preschool teacher. When he tries to convince her he’s a man, not an appliance, he does so with the clinical exactitude of, well, an appliance.
All of these performers aren’t interested in capital A-acting — instead, they’re concerned with blending into their surroundings. They know that the funniest thing they can do is fit in rather than stand out. It’s a testament to their improv roots that they’re more interested in serving the film as a whole than having a breakout moment.
Bridesmaids’ deep roster of working comedians is a key reason why the film works so well and causes the kinds of deep belly laughs that might result in, well, some of the bodily functions I painstakingly detailed above. Even knowing that, I’m excited, and I feel relaxed, and I’m ready to part-ayyyyy.