An amusing, if long, engagement

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Like so many other films in producer/director Judd Apatow’s oeuvre, “Bridesmaids” features astute comedy that springs from a well of genuine human emotion.

And, like other Apatow-branded flicks, it overstays its welcome by about 30 minutes.

He only serves as producer here (Paul Feig is director), but his fingerprints are all over “Bridesmaids,” for better and for worse.

Kristen Wiig (who shares writing credit) stars as Annie, a 30-something single gal whose chipper exterior hides a life in sharp decline: her baking business went belly up, her romantic life is clogged with a creep (played by a wonderfully vain Jon Hamm), her creepy roommates want her out, and she’s just learned that her best pal, Lillian (played by Maya Rudolph), is getting hitched.

The role of Lillith’s maid of honor at least allows Annie to divert her focus on all the duties and responsibilities associated with the role — the shower, the bachlorette party, and various other female bonding exercises meant to gel the gals together.

Annie is quickly upstaged by Helen (played by Rose Byrne), Lillith’s new friend who appears to have sprung from the pages of a bridal magazine. She is the anti-Annie, flourishing in all areas of life and encroaching on BFF status with Lillith. The rivalry between Helen and Annie sends ripples through the other ladies and makes Annie’s already-deteriorating self-worth slide to just above stripper level.

There are countless funny scenes throughout “Bridesmaids,” courtesy of the skilled comedic cast assembled (“SNL” alumnus Wiig and Rudolph, “Reno 911’s” Wendi McLendon-Covey, “Mike & Molly’s” Melissa McCarthy all generating the most chuckles). Some humor plays to the cheap seats (a bout with food poisoning that sends all the gals sprinting to the ladies’ room), while other bits bubble up from seldom explored moments of female relationships (the connection of friendship as one enters matrimony, leaving their previous single life behind).

But at more than two hours in length, the entire affair often feels crushed by the weight of its own girth. Scenes linger without direction, relationships are introduced only to never be seen again, and some bits feel like improvisational outtakes better left for the end-credit scroll. This is an Apatow trademark of his guy-centric flicks, from “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” to “Knocked Up” to the needlessly bloated “Funny People.”

There is much to admire with “Bridesmaids,” as it does feel like a turning point for strong, female-centric comedy more than the shrill ladies of “Sex and the City” ever have. The trouble is the audience must work to stay engaged to these ladies, which sometimes leads to thoughts of cold feet.

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