I had virtually no expectations going into seeing the movie Bridesmaids. At best, I would spend some quality time with Kristen Wiig and her deliciously witty sense of humor. At worst, I would see yet another SNL great succumb to an astronomical cinematic fiasco (though none can hold a candle to the mind-numbing scrapbook of atrocities Eddie Murphy has to his name). If anything, the film’s marketing had me intrigued: “A Hangover for the girls!” What in the world does that mean? That it had the same plot, but the characters have different plumbing? That it’s a raunchy comedy that appealed more to women? That The Hangover didn’t appeal to women? That I was abnormal to be a woman who enjoyed The Hangover? While I still don’t get the foundation of this particular marketing ploy (other than its ability to attract fans of the Hangover), I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed the film.
When we are introduced to Wiig’s character, Annie, it is promptly established that she’s in the middle of a rough patch. Her boyfriend left her and her bakery business went under. She is broke, working a job her mother got for her at a jewelry store, and living with roommates she hates. She is sleeping with a man who uses her for sex, and worst of all – she is asked to be the maid of honor for her best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph).
This is where the women can begin to relate. Here is a tiny glimpse into the life of a female – every woman hates every other woman. Even her BFFs. Now, I’m not saying we can’t enjoy one another’s company, be the closest of friends, and genuinely care about one another. These warm fuzzy feelings actually nestle in quite comfortably with the female hatred. There is not a moment in the day that a woman is not comparing herself to every other female she knows or sees. What she looks like, how funny she is, how cute her boyfriend is, how many friends she has – everything. This in mind, you can imagine how difficult it is to be put in a position of being the biggest supporter to someone who has everything you don’t. Annie’s reaction to Lillian’s request is a flawlessly brilliant combination of fake joy and real nausea, with an underlying tone of: “You bitch.”
Enter the other bridesmaids:
Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey). A housewife and mother to three boys, with a supremely enjoyable satire about her less-than-perfect picket fence life.
Becca (Ellie Kemper) A naïve newlywed who would be utterly violated by watching this film.
Megan (Melissa McCarthy) Hilarious. I need to take a time out from the flow of this article to appreciate how much she made me laugh. Perfectly inappropriate.
Helen (Rose Byrne). And here is the seemingly perfect woman, the feared replacement best friend. If there’s anything worse than your BFF getting everything you want well before you get it is the threat of someone replacing you altogether. Helen’s character is written and performed well. From the perspective of the main character, Annie, you hate her for being so flawlessly perfect and trying to upstage everyone in the eyes of Lillian. On the other hand, however, you can see why she could be liked by the bride to begin with. It is Helen’s presence, more than anything else, that causes Annie to hit rock bottom and have a meltdown of epic proportions.
The bridal party creates a glorious mish-mash of comedy by some of the funniest women in the ‘biz.
While the movie had several laugh out loud moments, but I still haven’t come to my favorite aspect of the film. While Bridesmaids is a film that appeals (albeit not exclusively) to females, it differs in a very important way from your average estrogen-infused rom com.
Can I just convey how obnoxious chick flicks are? They usually star some vacuous blonde like Katherine Heigl or Kate Hudson who seem perfect at first, until you find out that they have some ridiculous flaw or some circumstantial injustice that causes them to be alone and self-loathing. Enter equally attractive male counterpart. He is her equal in the self-loathing department, and it usually manifests itself in some sort of sexist, womanizing outlet. Then, by gum, he sees the light. She has changed his entire perspective on life. Then he can swoop in, change his character completely, and rescue her from her crappy life.
I call this type of entertainment pornography for women. The plot is poorly constructed, the characters aren’t believable, it sets unrealistic and idealized expectations about how things are, and while it may be a small form of instant gratification, it leaves the viewer oddly unsatisfied afterward.
The thing that struck me most about Bridesmaids, what I thought was perceptive and a nice side-step from the usual cliché, was the fact that this female lead found her own way out of the dark. Did she have help? Sure. But “true love” as it were between Annie and Rhodes, the gentleman she meets during the film, didn’t forgive easily, right away, and come as easy as breathing. Annie didn’t have someone else fix her. She fixed herself. And thus, she found her own happiness that wasn’t dependent on a person or a situation.
All of that combined with that great Judd Apatow production value makes me throw Bridesmaids a solid 4.5 Grizzlies.