Monday, June 6, 2011

Bridesmaids Revisited

(because sometimes puns are hard to resist, overdone as they may be)

So I really got a kick out of Superbad, problematic though it and the rest of the Apatow oeuvre may be. And at the end there's this scene where the boys, still hung over and embarrassed from their One Crazy Night, go to the mall and run into their counterpart girls from the Big Party, who are likewise hung over and embarrassed. The thought I immediately had was: what did they do? I'm sure it was hilarious,  but no one ever makes One Crazy Night movies about girls. PLEASE SOMEONE MAKE A MOVIE ABOUT WHAT THE GIRLS DID. 

Well, apparently they are doing that sort of thing now! And people are going to see it! Which bodes well for movies about women doing hilarious things, and not rom-com funny (which usually just means the female lead is adorably klutzy) - legitimately funny. And Bridesmaids is legitimately hilarious. Like, inviting my girlfriends over for dinner and afterwards we're like "What do you wanna do?" "I don't know, what do YOU want to do?" and someone says "Let's watch Bridesmaids again" and this happens five times in a row. That funny. I'm very glad that the movie that is apparently making a stand for the woman-centric broad comedy is this good.

So why is it so good? It's actually not a huge movie - not a lot of locations or characters or outrageous events a la Hangover (which actually I haven't seen - yes, my cave is very comfortable, why do you ask?), no special effects, no overly elaborate gag setups, no huge stars, and the centerpiece is actually a bittersweet story about BFFs growing apart - but not only does that allow for subtle humor in addition to the broad stuff, but the ordinariness of the story makes it easy for the intended audience (say what you like, ads, this is a chick flick - a little more on that below) to identify.

Because every woman over 25 has likely been in that wedding party. The nature of wedding parties demands it. Especially if you didn't come from money but then went to college, and then there's the cross-class awkwardness between old friends and new friends that this movie captures perfectly. (Also the one-thin-bridesmaid and one-fat-bridesmaid constant - and, alas, the movie accurately portrays that most brides only listen to the thin bridesmaid when picking the dresses.)

Also captured perfectly: the escalating nature of wedding planning, that chiffon maelstrom that starts out so innocently and the next thing you know you are screaming "What do you MEAN the napkins are cornflower blue instead of baby blue?!?" at some poor slob of a vendor over the phone. The absurd prissiness of wedding dress salons, possibly the worst place in the world to have diarrhea and as much as I'm not fond of poop gags, that one was brilliant.

But really, the five best things about the movie are:

- Kristen Wiig, whose face is apparently made of rubber (in a good way) and who's brilliant at both subtle emotional moments and physical comedy as well as having no reserves about making a fool of herself. Her character is likable and we root for her, but she's also kind of a jerk, which is awesome for me, because I hate comedy where embarrassing painful things happen to people who mean well and don't really deserve it (see: the first couple episodes of Parks and Recreation, which we're watching now - I hear it gets better) but love it when the same things happen to likable jerks who kind of earned it. (See: Arrested Development.)
- The warm and goofy friendship, later strained but they make up, between Kristen Wiig's character and Maya Rudolph's character. It was really kind of pertinent, too, since my BFF is totally pregnant right now and I'm not and it's like whoa, what the hell is going on here? Aren't we supposed to do major life events at the same time? Don't leave me behind!
- Melissa McCarthy, insane and unashamed as Megan, one of the best supporting characters I've seen in a comedy in a long time. Kind of makes me want to watch Mike and Molly, but not really. I'd just like to see her in more stuff.
- The sweet goofy love-interest cop and his and Annie's (Wiig's character's) interactions. The awkward flirting during their meet-cute was adorable and kind of realistic, right down to the awkwardly non-subtle handing over of the phone number. Lots of awkwardness and embarrassment going on in this movie and instead of making me cringe as it usually does, it's perfectly played.
- And, the big one: I am pretty sure this movie fails the Reverse Bechdel Test.

You know the Bechdel Test: A movie must have a) at least two female characters b) with names c) who talk to each other d) about something other than a man. So many otherwise excellent movies fail it - I might say most Hollywood movies, not that I've seen a whole lot of them lately, but I used to be a movie critic and they certainly failed it back then. Failing it says "We don't care if our female audience can identify with anyone in this movie, because even if they can't they're going to see it anyway because there is NOTHING ELSE TO SEE." (Except romcoms, and even then the female lead and her Spunky Sidekick Friend are usually just talking about guys. Or shopping. I wonder if the Bechdel Test topics should be expanded to include shopping.) And it works! Because, like grade school kids and their gendered bikes, guys will not see girl movies but women are expected to see guy movies. This is how my best friend ended up at Alien vs. Predator with her husband on Christmas Day. CHRISTMAS DAY. ALIEN VS. PREDATOR.

I am trying to think about whether there were ever two men in one scene (aside from extras at the engagement party and the wedding) who talked to each other, much less talked to each other about something other than a woman. I'm failing. The movie has a pretty tight POV focus on Annie, and she pretty much just interacts with one guy at a time - the douchebag played by Jon Hamm, the cute cop played by some guy I don't remember, her boss (does he have a name?), the flight attendant (we only know his name because he has on a nametag), the... waiter at the Chilean restaurant? The butler at the wedding shower? Maya Rudolph's character's dad? I am drawing a blank. And, notably, Maya Rudolph's character's fiance has ZERO lines. None at all. He just stands there looking doofy. Which, granted, is pretty accurate to what a lot of guys do when faced with wedding planning: zone out and hope it's over soon.

What this says, to me, is that turnabout is fair play. It's about time we were the intended audience of a smart raunchy comedy. Perhaps next they'll do that girl-Superbad I've been waiting for? I hear Sarah Haskins has a script of that type in the works, not that it's getting made... but now that Bridesmaids is a hit I'm certain some sort of teen version is in the works.

If not, I'll have to write one. Please don't make me do that, Hollywood.  

No comments:

Post a Comment