'Bridesmaids' a women's version of 'The Hangover'?

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PHOENIX – Two years ago, a little movie called “The Hangover” took the male-bonding comedy to new highs (lows?) and made audiences – men and women alike – laugh more than they ever expected.

This weekend, the girls get their chance in a movie called “Bridesmaids.” It stars a few “Saturday Night Live” alums, including writer Kristen Wiig as the maid of honor. Maya Rudolph plays the bride, and Melissa McCarthy of the hit comedy “Mike and Molly” is the future sister-in-law and the “wildcard” bridesmaid.

Even though the story swirls around an imminent wedding and all that goes with it, calling “Bridesmaids” a “chick flick” is like saying only guys would laugh at “The Hangover.”

“At some point, the studios sort of decided that a lot of movies need to be loved by 15-year-old boys first,” said “Bridesmaids” director Paul Feig.”They need to appeal 15-year-old boys, then everybody else will follow. That seems to be target audience a lot of times because those are the people that flock to the theaters. … It’s silly. Half the country is women. It’s just silly to not have this out there.

“I did feel the pressure making this movie in that if I screw this up, I’m going to screw it up for all of these talented women who should have their own films.”

While not a “girly” movie in the traditional sense, “Bridesmaids” is intensely feminine, if a bit raucous and raunchy. The cast got along so well that they cried and hugged at the end of the shoot.

Looking at all of the male-centric buddy films and at “Bridesmaids,” one has to wonder why some of the funniest women in entertainment are on TV rather than on the big screen.

With the cast of “Bridesmaids,” all but one of the women either started on TV or still has a show on TV.

“Good Morning! Arizona” producer Lisa Fuller-Magee asked McCarthy why funny hasn’t translated for women on film.

“I think we’ve gotten into a pattern of female comedy … that’s kind of cutesy and coincidental,” McCarthy said. “It’s not real. Nothing about it is real. … Everything is just kind of glossy, glossy, glossy. I think, ‘Oh! You’re missing all the good stuff!’ … I think this movie kind of brings it back to real. Even though they’re extreme sometimes, the characters are all still based in reality.

“There’s a heart to it and I love that!”

Wiig agreed, saying she loves working with women in an ensemble. She also said female ensembles shouldn’t be an unusual thing.

“It was amazing and I hope to do it many, many, many more times,” she said.

“It felt very natural the way that it was,” Rudolph chimed in. “I think when people respond to things, that just creates room for more.”

“Bridesmaids,” produced by Judd Apatow, is rated R. It opens on Friday.