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Capsule reviews of `Bridesmaids,' `Hesher'

6/12/2014 By The Associated Press

"Bridesmaids"— This takes the typically cliched wedding movie genre and completely upends it and reinvents it into something surprisingly daring and alive. But it also takes the Judd Apatow-style buddy comedy, with its mixture of raunchiness, neurosis and sentimentality, and tailors it to female experiences and sensibilities. That the film achieves both of these ambitious goals simultaneously while remaining (mostly) hilarious is a testament to the power of Kristen Wiig as co-writer and star, and to the awesomely eclectic ensemble cast of strong comedians who surround her. Like the comedies Apatow has directed — and here he serves as a producer — "Bridesmaids" drags on longer than it should. It also features a ridiculous gross-out scene that was unnecessary: "Bridesmaids" is too smart, too clever and too inspired to fall back on formula. The presence of Wiig, front and center, ensures that. She stars as Annie, a Milwaukee woman who's recently lost her bakery and her boyfriend. The one bright spot in her life is her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph), who's just announced that she's getting married and wants Annie to be her maid of honor. But Annie ends up competing with Lillian's new BFF, the perfect and passive-aggressive Helen (Rose Byrne). Meanwhile, Melissa McCarthy steals the whole film as Lillian's wildly inappropriate future sister-in-law. R for some strong sexuality and language throughout. 125 minutes. Three and a half stars out of four.

— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

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"Everything Must Go" — Will Ferrell has deviated from his comic persona from time to time, giving more dramatic performances in movies such as "Stranger Than Fiction." But no film has asked him to delve into the kinds of deep, dark places required of him here, and he more than rises to the challenge. Ferrell's stripped-down presence is a thing of elegant melancholy — even when his character is at his ugliest and worst. He never seems to judge the man he's playing, Nick Halsey, who thinks he's hit bottom but then finds he can continue falling. He just becomes this person in small, quiet ways. And in the hands of first-time writer-director Dan Rush, based on a Raymond Carver short story, "Everything Must Go" is a small, quiet movie. It may feel a bit too languid at times, but the pacing also allows time for us to ruminate alongside Nick, to take it all in — for better and for worse. When we first meet Nick, he's being fired from his job as a longtime salesman. When he arrives at his suburban Phoenix home, he finds his wife has left him, changed the locks and alarm codes, and scattered his belongings on the front lawn. Rather than panic, he proceeds to live in his yard and drink beer all day. Rebecca Hall and Christopher Jordan Wallace are lovely in different ways as the neighbors who help him slowly emerge from his fog. R for language and some sexual content. 96 minutes. Three stars out of four.

— Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

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"Hesher" — The title character of Spencer Susser's feature debut enters the lives of a grieving family approximately like the rolling boulder that opens the film "Sexy Beast." Hesher (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has long black hair, a proclivity for shirtlessness and a giant tattoo of a middle finger on his back. When 13-year-old TJ (Devin Brochu) inadvertently reveals that Hesher is a squatter in a half-constructed condo, Hesher moves into the shabby suburban home where TJ lives with his father (Rainn Wilson) and grandmother (Piper Laurie). The house is in a stupor of malaise, still mourning the death of TJ's mother two months earlier. Hesher, similar to Brad Pitt's character in "Fight Club," arrives as a kind of demented wake-up call: catharsis by heavy metal. Gordon-Levitt is clearly having the most fun. By just his physicality, he's nearly unrecognizable — even when half-naked. The film is generally mangy, gratuitously violent and its grittiness is overdone. But it's nevertheless a good shot in the arm. With Natalie Portman as a bespectacled cashier. R for disturbing violent behavior, sexual content including graphic dialogue, pervasive language and drug content — some in the presence of a child. 105 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.

— Jake Coyle, AP Entertainment Writer

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