A feminist romp. Women breaking the comedy glass ceiling. A movie that finally exposes the ridiculousness of the wedding industrial complex.
Call Bridesmaids what you want. It's really a food movie. Protagonist Annie (co-producer and co-writer Kristen Wiig) is a failed pastry chef working in a jewelry shop after her cupcake bakery went belly-up during the recession. When her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) asks Annie to be the maid of honor in her big, fancy wedding, Annie can't handle the financial and emotional burden that comes with the responsibility. Dealing with a pack of Lillian's new friends doesn't help, either.
There's a big lesson on restaurant food safety prior to the bridesmaids' dress-shopping scene. Those letter grades on the door are no joke. Disregard and you, too, could wind up in formal wear, ass in a sink, screaming, "It's coming out like hot lava!" like bridesmaid Megan (Melissa McCarthy).
Through the film, Annie turns to baking to cope with her angst, creating one perfect cupcake adorned with a hand-sculpted fondant orchid for herself, and a carrot-shaped apology cake for love interest Rhodes (Chris O'Dowd).
Bridesmaids focuses on the over-the-top emotions that accompany modern weddings. The silly competition between bridesmaids, budget-busting bridal gear and most importantly, the futility of taking all-too-human people intent on creating one impossibly perfect day.
And yes, it happens to be focused on female characters who are funny, complex and who get what they want in the boudoir, even when what they want is a giant sandwich with labial flaps.
What the movie lacks are the cliché trappings of the wedding movie. There isn't a montage of dress-shopping set to a KT Tunstall tune, a wedding toast with a shocking twist or a body-loathing wedding cake binge eating scene.
But cake is important. 10th Street Baking Company in Belleville caters to this demand with five wedding cake flavors, nineteen filling options and rich buttercream icing with a hint of coconut.
Before committing to a cake, the bakery offers a tasting box - a two-layer slice of each cake flavor with a different filling between each layer, presented in a ribbon-bedecked white box.
After several years of eating lots of trendy, over-decorated cupcakes like the one Annie makes in Bridesmaids, it's refreshing to return to the classic, balanced world of wedding cake. Each sample - red velvet, white, yellow, carrot and chocolate - featured a smooth, delicate texture with very little crumb. The red velvet had a hint of the dark chocolate flavor that gave the original cake its color. The chocolate's dark with a lingering bite on the back of the tongue. The carrot cake forgoes the raisins, nuts and visible shreds of carrots. It's almost as smooth as the other cakes, but with a rich, earthy flavor and lots of spice.
The carrot and red velvet cakes were filled with a layer each of Bavarian cream and cheesecake. Not cream cheese frosting - cheesecake. As in, a thin layer of mildly sweet cheesecake. It's velvety and provides enough tang to balance the sweetness of the cake and icing, a welcome change from a stiff, over-sugared cream cheese icing overdose.
Bright citrus curds filled the white cake. The lemon's tart and assertive to combat white cake's tendency towards blandness. Key lime goes for a gentle blend of sweet and tart that works with the sublime cake.
Strawberry and blueberry filling -- the former a sleek jelly, the latter a fluffy cream -- separate the layers of yellow cake. They don't have the artificial aftertaste that's become too common in fruit fillings, or the texture of chemical stabilizers. The berries are real, right down to the subtle flavor and the pleasant texture of seeds.
The chocolate cake has the right amount of over-the-top indulgence. The bittersweet chocolate is first sweetened with a layer of raspberry, similar to the previous strawberry filling. The combination lingers like a cordial. The fluffy fudge has a lighter chocolate flavor than the cake and a light texture.
You shouldn't have to go through the trauma of getting hitched to have cake this good. Not when you can buy an eight-inch, three-layer cake with two fillings and buttercream icing for $24. A perfect post-movie snack with friends.
Just don't eat it before the film. It would be a shame to throw it up from laughing so hard.