Lisa Schwarzbaum
May 27, 2011 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Kristen Wiig’s inexhaustible talent for transformation is familiar to anyone who has ever seen the high-energy SNL all-star morph into a Lawrence Welk singer, the Target Lady, or Kathie Lee Gifford. But the 37-year-old Wiig’s triumphal performance as ambivalent maid of honor Annie in the smart-laughs comedy Bridesmaids has us falling in love with her anew while cheering her promotion to the well-earned position of Hollywood Leading Lady. Although we’ve always admired Wiig’s embrace of extremity in her SNL career, the levels of fundamentally feminine, lifelike comedic complexity she reaches in Bridesmaids — which she also co-wrote — are a revelation: She creates a female character all the more rare in today’s rom-coms for being so real. Annie generates laughs playing off the character’s insecurities, her jealousies, and her faulty romantic radar. The star’s evocation of the sanity and maturity of her hapless heroine, meanwhile, generates bravas.

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