In keeping with my tradition of only discussing pop culture phenomenons after they’ve ceased to be relevant, here is my take on 2011’s “Bridesmaids.”
“Bridesmaids” was nothing less than a revelation for me because by the time it came out, I was convinced that women would never be allowed to be funny in movies again. Sure they were allowed to be funny on TV occasionally. Sure, Leslie Mann was allowed to steal scenes in her husband, Judd Apataow’s, films. But beyond that, it seemed like Hollywood comedies were destined to be one sausage party after another. I hadn’t seen a comedy where women were featured prominently since “Romy and Michelle’s Highschool Reunion” and “Superstar,” which was made in 1999.
Is “Bridesmaids” the funniest movie ever made? Probably not. But it is incredibly funny and hugely important. Here’s why:
- It’s women! Women, women everywhere! Being funny! (It should be noted the two men in the film–Chris O’Dowd and Jon Hamm– are also superb and superbly funny.)
- More importantly it’s women being funny, gross, immature, and assholish. I wanted to write about why this film was so dear to me awhile back, but couldn’t seem to find the time. All I knew was I wanted to title the entry “Let Us Be Assholes.” Because, let’s face it, a major component of comedy is enjoying neurotic idiocy, awkward moments, and even the occasional gross-out moment. And there seemed to be precious few vehicles where women were allowed to be, well, um, gross assholes. In “Bridesmaids” Kristen Wiig’s character, Annie, is at turns goofy, petulant, obnoxious, selfish, and yeah, assholish. IT. IS. AWESOME. Because it’s funny.
- Melissa McCarthy plays a woman doesn’t wear a whole lot of make-up and is kinda butch. And the joke is not “Ha ha!!!! Look at the fat woman who’s not conforming to beauty norms!!!” The joke is, “Hey, look at the fat woman who’s not conforming to beauty norms, is a little butch, is highly successful, is a great friend, and is sexually successful!” And is scene-stealingly hilarious. Seriously, if you can’t gin up a reason to pop in or stream this movie, do it for Melissa McCarthy alone, because I don’t think there’s any use in pretending she’s not currently one of the funniest people on the planet.
- Did I mention the women are funny? Well, they are. Even the women who are dealing with the material that’s not broad. Like many comedies “Bridesmaids” gets better the more you watch it. And when you watch it several times, you start to search out the smaller nuggets of comedy gold. Rose Byrne’s performance is one of those nuggets. She is subtly hilarious as the perfect, beautiful trophy wife and friend-thief, Helen. The scene where Annie tries to get her ex’s attention by driving like an idiot only gets funnier if you pay attention to what Helen is doing in the background.
- The film is called “Bridesmaids,” but it’s not about dream weddings. It’s not about longing for love. It’s not about men. It’s about friendship, and how sometimes we treat good friends like lovers. We get jealous, we get possessive. I think everyone who has ever had a really good friend has had a moment where we’ve felt anxious about letting a new friend of a friend into our life. That dynamic is silly with comedy gold and I’m glad somebody finally decided to mine it. Really, watching Annie flip out over best friend’s new friend is not just incredibly funny, it’s incredibly relatable.
And, thank goddess almighty it’s not ALL ABOUT THE MENZ.
FANTASTIC DANCING UPDATE: