Call it a Judd Apatow-for-chicks comedy or his laugh factory's finest effort since 2007's "Knocked Up" — and many critics have done both — but the bottom line is people have been loving "Bridesmaids" in early screenings.

Produced by Apatow, directed by Paul Feig and starring "Saturday Night Live" star Kristen Wiig, "Bridesmaids" opened Friday (May 13), and while it won't duel with "Thor" for the top box-office spot, it does have the distinction of being one of the most critically adored major releases of the year (currently 91 percent fresh on the Rotten Tomatoes review aggregator). Critics have lauded the film's consistent laughs, Wiig for her breakout big-screen turn and the cast of uproarious supporting players. Read on for those critiques and more in our "Bridesmaids" review roundup:

The Story
"Wiig stars as Annie, the increasingly unhinged maid of honor for her best friend Lillian's (Maya Rudolph) upcoming up-market wedding. They are surrounded by an ensemble of witty twisted sisters who come in all shapes and sizes (both the wit and the sisters, the unrelated kind, just 'doin' it for themselves'), and a director in Paul Feig, who displays a lot of comedic common sense. This creative collective includes most notably Rose Byrne ('Damages') and Melissa McCarthy ('Mike & Molly'), with Wendi McLendon-Covey ('Reno 911!') and Ellie Kemper ('The Office') as the other merry maids. They all work hard to wring the most nonsense out of the clever script. ... The story swings between Annie's everyday struggles and a string of increasingly outrageous wedding plan fiascos [but] what distinguishes the film is the way in which the women relate and the raunch is handled." — Betsy Sharkey, The Los Angeles Times

The Laughs
"The scenes of outlandish slapstick humor in 'Bridesmaids' will surely be the ones viewers are talking about well into the multiplex parking lot: the disgusting aftermath of a spicy lunch in a boutique bathroom, culminating with a tulle-encased Rudolph performing a curb-side act worthy of John Waters at his most appalling; Wiig, hopped up on anti-anxiety meds and booze, running amok on a plane bound for Las Vegas. ... As viscerally funny as these moments are — and as expertly staged by comedy veteran Paul Feig ('Freaks and Geeks,' 'Knocked Up') — it's the smaller, more observant moments in 'Bridesmaids' that make it worth savoring." — Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post

The Apatow Effect
"It shows some of Apatow's influence. (He ended up producing.) It's a little long, and has the look — with some scenes ending abruptly, or subplots suddenly dropped — of having been re-thought in editing. It's also grosser than it needs to be, with a lot of bathroom 'humor.' There are touches of road-trip movies such as 'The Hangover' here, too, with the promise of a girls-gone-wild bachelorette party. But while 'Bridesmaids' doesn't generate those sort of belly laughs, it does deliver stronger, richer characters." — Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger

The Dissenters
"Obviously intended as a femme version of a rude and crude boys-gone-wild comedy, complete with projectile vomiting, inconvenient defecation and fusillades of F-bombs, 'Bridesmaids' sorely lacks the saving grace of being consistently funny. ... 'Bridesmaids' is a sluggish, charmless misfire in which even the most appealing players — including Chris O'Dowd as an Irish-accented cop who inexplicably falls for Annie — must try too hard to make anything close to an engaging impression." — Joe Leydon, Variety

The Final Word
"If this is only a chick flick, then call me a chick. Witty, raunchy and affecting, 'Bridesmaids' crosses boundaries by blithely ignoring them. At one moment it's a broad-gauge farce that examines sex from a woman's point of view. (The findings are mixed at best.) At another it's a sophisticated comedy of manners, and class, that pits two bridesmaids against each other for control of the wedding, if not the bride's destiny. Through it all — the free-form conversations, the brilliant set pieces, the preposterous gross-outs, the flawless performances — Kristen Wiig's forlorn maid of honor, Annie, seeks her own destiny with a wrenchingly cockeyed passion." — Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal

Check out everything we've got on "Bridesmaids."

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