May 13, 2011

A Few Thoughts on... "Bridesmaids"

Regardless of what I think of the actual product, the phrase I am most tired of hearing is "The ______ Hangover." While I will admit that the Hangover itself was a delightful change of pace in a time when only Judd Apatow seems to be consistent in comedy, the numerous comparisons since 2009 have been seen more as a grating marketing ploy to get the uneducated masses to see comedies that only think they qualify as the Hangover (I, of course, would rather compare everything to Role Models).

I doubt this summer will see our critiques changing to "The ____ Hangover: Part II" (unless we get those tragic uninspired sequels), but let's be honest, is it really considered that trite to compare any modern comedy to the Hangover? It's a success story on all means, and we all seemed to at least like it a little. We did this with Borat, Superbad, and Juno... find a niche and just think every movie with that niche is the next version.

I will not say that hearing Bridesmaids as the female Hangover turned me off, but I kind of rolled my eyes. Of course, the realization on why this uninspired statement was appropriate may as well come from the other movies currently on the scene.
Over the past decade, women have been trying to get in on the gross-out humor, but rarely capturing the same energy correctly. You were more likely to end up with Dirty Love than the Hangover. To this day, the trend continues in the general spectrum where girl power is forced to be given to Kate Hudson to run laps around the cliche pool until she falls in the shallow end with a topless hunk.
Maybe being single has altered my view of women's tastes, but I sympathize with their options. Maybe I just live in a shallow city, but the amount of people I saw coming out of the Something Borrowed screening makes me cry.

It makes me cry more when Bridesmaids was two rooms over. The more I sat in that lobby and looked at billboards, the more I could tell that the Hangover comparison may just have met it's wife.

Annie (Kristen Wiig) is a baking extraordinare whose business Cake Baby just closed in what she calls a slumming economy. Her car's taillights are busted and cause her to become a constant target of Officer Rhodes (Chris O'Dowd), who is the nicest police officer in the area. Her ex-boyfriend Ted (Jon Hamm) is a sleazy, sex machine who makes her feel bad in the morning and causes her to spout off cynicism at customers at her job at a jewelry store. After calling a pre-teen a cunt in front of her boss, she is unemployed and forced to move in with her celebrity painting mother (Jill Clayburgh).
Then there is her best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph), who together form a close bond full of inside jokes and magazine parties. When it is revealed that Lillian is getting married, Annie is the first considered to be her head bridesmaid and plan the entire party.
However, things turn for the worst when at the engagement party, Helen (Rose Byrne) appears as Lillian's best friend of eight months and remains practically perfect in every way. With the assistance of Megan (Melissa McCarthy), Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey), Becca (Ellie Kemper), they spend the rest of the movie planning the events while Annie continues to fall further into jealousy and failure as Helen becomes the ring leader.

And... stop!

What do you think is going to happen? Will Annie take revenge on Helen by disgracing her in a brutal cat fight a'la Bride Wars?

Thank God director Paul Feig and writers Wiig and Annie Mumolo weren't shallow enough to steep to that level. Instead of going for the petty jealous type of movie that we are susceptible to, we get the journey of a mad bridesmaid trying to make sense of her world without coming across as weak or nasty.
While the movie does dip into some terribly gross jokes, the movie is initially saved by it's ability to recover with a small cast of characters all portraying a different type of realistic woman. The chemistry manages to make all of the segments flow fluidly and even at absurd moments, you can feel the heart coming around the corner.
The notable star is Kristen Wiig, who finally steps into the lead role character and sweats her way through physical and snide remark comedy. She manages to bring out the best in her co-stars, even if it means making herself look awkward. She commits to every joke until it works and even in the first two minutes, brings us the funniest sex scene of the year so far.

While it feels more like this movie was created as a bunch of vignettes thrown into a simple plot, it works so impressively well as not only are they hilarious moments, they serve to help establish these women without taking us out of the moment. This is meant to be a fun movie, and it succeeds without coming across as insulting to the audience.

In fact, the only thing keeping this from being a classic is the structure, but that doesn't mean the laughs don't come full force. Also, was Duck Soup exactly a master of structure? No... maybe this will grow into something more, but for the most part, this movie comes across as an expose of "Women can be funny, too."

I find it sad that the funny women are separated and far between in movies nowadays, but if Something Borrowed proves anything, I don't get women and don't want to get them if they all like Kate Hudson. I miss when women were all fine with quoting My Best Friend's Wedding. I really hope this enters that pantheon.
It may not be the greatest example of girl power on screen, but when it's predominantly women having so much natural fun without any hint of repression, does it matter? This movie succeeds and will hopefully break the Hangover tagline it's getting as time continues.

However, I really hope that with this breakthrough movie, I will not be seeing this phrase: "Bad Teacher is Bad Santa meets Bridesmaids" in my near future.
If you are a fan of comedy and can accept that women are funny, then please check out this entertaining romp of a good time and help Kristen Wiig get more lead roles and push the female-centric comedies back into the good tastes section of the video store.

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