Bridesmaids


A lot has been said about Bridesmaids, the Judd Apatow produced  breakout female-fronted comedy of 2011. While the seas of praise flooded in for the film upon its release from a range of feminist publications, marking it the comedy of last year, it was hard to avoid the impact of Kristen Wiig and co. Somehow, I seemed to distance myself from the hype and never caught it when it was out. I told myself I would do so eventually. Little to my knowledge, eventually didn't really come that soon.

It wasn't until I was staying at a friend's uni did I actually bite the bullet and witness what the hype was all about.

Annie (Wiig) is having a hard time of it. She's sleeping with some guy that she hopes will make their relationship 'more official' (Jon Hamm), she's working a shitty job her mother managed to blag for her while living in a crappy apartment with a pair of controlling siblings (Matt Lucas and Rebel Wilson), and now, her best friend, Lillian (Maya Rudolph), is getting married.

How awful.

Things brighten up when Annie is selected to be the maid of honour for Lillian's wedding, but shes got some competition in the form of her bestie's new friend, Helen (Rose Byrne).

As the wedding nears, Annie, with Lillian's bridesmaids, Megan (Mellisa McCarthy), Rita (Wendi McLendon -Covey), and Becca (Ellie Kemper) start to get the wedding rolling. Unfortunately, things don't go according to plan, and before she knows it, Annie's life is heading for the scrap heap.


The worst kind of films to watch with people are comedies. When you know you should laugh - i.e when someone else is laughing - you have the inclination to just go along with it, join in the crowd, and hope that no one notices that completely fake witches cackle you're working.

Luckily, my friend wouldn't give a fuck even if I was snorting like a piglet or not, so it wasn't too bad that my face remained in a neutral position as I watched Bridesmaids, kind of like this guy:


The penny has dropped by now, surely? The fact that I didn't like Bridesmaids I'm sure has come as a massive shock to you before you read this sentence.

Shoot me now if you'd like, but fucking toilet humour. Literal toilet humour too. Guess it just isn't my thing. It may be cool for some, hey go nuts on that, but when you're cracking fat jokes I'm fucking out of there Some of us find certain things funny, others don't. Can't please everyone and all that.

Admittedly, though, I did have expectations of Bridesmaids that weren't lived up to. The expectations weren't ones that were out of reach, and they didn't damage my viewing of the film entirely (I'd have viewed it in the same way even without the cloak of hype covering it), but the lack of funnies was a massive turn off.

Looking ahead from the is-it-funny-is-it-not side of the film, there were plenty of other things to get under my skin, and one of them is definitely the theme that surrounded Bridesmaids.

Weddings.


That's right, those annoying-declarations of love with all the pretty dresses, best-man and maid of honour debauchery and paralytically drunk guests fumbling around with one shoe off in the bushes out back. We all love 'em don't we?

Well, it seems like someone does because the output of wedding themed comedies (particular romantic comedies) is fucking ridiculous.

Like you probably all are (I pray to God this is the case, anyway), I am sick and tired of seeing weddings being the only thing that women are fucking capable of organising, arranging, or taking part in. Bar Wedding Crashers, the American wedding-related films that have been released over the past 10 years or so have female leads, with supporting males. It's great that there are female fronted films, but at what cost? For women to speak about getting married as if that is their only aspiration in life?



I am sure there are plenty of women out there who do aspire to have the picket-fence life style, and hey, that's their choice. However, there are people like me, too, those who don't really give a flying fuck about weddings, getting married, or any of that shit for the time being. Please, can we have something that doesn't have to do with weddings and women? You know, men are a massive part of weddings as well, especially if it is a man/woman or a man/man getting married. Or hey, why don't we at least have a film that does deal with those themes but not in such an outlandish way where it has to be all glitzy and glamours and the My Sweet Sixteen version of getting married?

Before watching Bridesmaids, I heard it was very different from all the wedding-themed comedies that have Hollywood studios have been vomiting out for a decade. So, after seeing it, I asked myself the question: What makes it different from the likes of 27 Dresses and The Wedding Planner?

And in answer to that - very little.

Apart from the fact that, yes, all the main characters minus Ted and Nathan are female, there was fuck all that had me thinking, "Yes, this is definitely a turn in the right direction for films circling around weddings!"


In the defense of the story to Bridesmaids, it all centered around a big, traditional wedding routine that concerned women, I get that. The thing is, I fail to understand why weddings always have to be about women, or women fighting women, or women hating on other women and then finding their ideal man at the end. It's great that there are female lead films out there like Bridesmaids now, it just doesn't give it a free ride off into the sunset because of that. It's pretty lame. And yes, even if you have a script written by women, it isn't an immediate tick off the old feminist box.

One thing that was forgotten in the writing process was the old age caricatures we've seen scripted and acted to the death of us all, the same film that is being lauded for its real and human portrayal of women and what they get up to.

Where is a stress ball when you need one?

To demonstrate what I mean, here is a list of the key players in Bridesmaids and what character type they fall under:

The hero/heroine (Annie)


We can't start off a film without having our hapless protagonist try to gather their feet in life. They're the person the audience is rooting for, the one that we all want to get their deserved happy ending come the closing credits. (And it's probable that that happy ending does happen.)

The level-headed one (Lillian)


This is usually the person the hero/heroine is closest to, the one that has been there with  through thick and thin, and all of the in-between. Their level-headed attitude is threatened when the hero/heroine starts to question their friendship. They make up at the end because that's what bffs are for, girlfriend.

The enemy who turns out not to be the devil's child (Helen)


The one that we all love to hate, hate to hate, or hate to love, the enemy is the constant barricade that stops the hero/heroine from getting what he/she wants, or needs, because they have their own issues. Everyone else loves them, but the protagonist certainly doesn't.

In most cases, particularly in comedy, the enemy and the hero/heroine call it truces come the finale, and we can see a beautiful friendship forming on the horizon.

The love interest (Nathan)


The one you least - or, 99% of the time - most expect to woo the heart of the hero/heroine

The heroine (usually, again something that is dismissed to be a male issue) tends to drive away the Love Interest at first, thinking that they are undeserving, it's hate-at-first-sight, or don't see what is right in front of them, causing a rift between the pair. Eventually, all is forgiven, and love blossoms. (Resulting in marriage, most of the time.)

Bonus points for them not being American. Everyone loves an Irish bloke.

The douchebag ex (Ted)


The douche bag ex  is only there to annoy and aggravate the hero/heroine. Sometimes they may have some kind of characterisation, but mostly, it is them being a frustrating it's-in-the-name kinda person. They are a blank, irritating canvas of a human.

Technically, yes, Annie and Ted aren't going out, but cross out the ex part, and you still have the blueprint of the douche bag.

The funny one (Megan)


Whether they're gay, overweight, or black (never all three, sometimes two), the funny one will take the piss out of themselves for the sake of the audience, because ISN'T IT SO FUNNY THAT SOMEONE IS, LIKE, GAY AND THEY MAKE GAY JOKES?

This results in a character not really being that funny, and Melissa McCarthy's 'I like sex, but it's funny because I am, like, you know, overweight' version of Megan in Bridesmaids hits that typical note for the supposedly hilarious caricature we're all meant to eat up and spit out through choked laughter.

Note: This isn't funny.

The ditsy/innocent one (Becca)



He/she obviously doesn't have a brain of their own, but their innocence to life and the outside world is noted as being endearing and slightly adorable until one of the other key players in the group takes them outside their comfort zone, and shows them the wild side of living. (In Becca's case, it is making out with Rita.)

The 'I don't give a fuck' one (Rita)


You can't have a group of friends that doesn't include the one that is so uncaring to what others think of them, and this is Rita.

They usually have responsibilities in their life, and their 'don't give a fuck' attitude is a release for all the other stuff they're dealing with.

The fact it was so easy to pinpoint out who was who in the cast made it even more depressing than I thought it would.


With the disturbingly massive catalogue of romantic comedies I have watched, these are characters I have seen before, ones that aren't giving anything different to the world of comedy.While it is certainly done in a different way - pretending to be a whole other beast entirely when its actually pretty fucking boring - the film is a blueprint for every other romcom I have suffered over the years, packaged up as a pillar of the genre. Out of everything offensive to my funny bones, that's what infuriates me the most.

Marketed as the female Hangover is, sadly, one of the core reasons why it got so much publicity at the time of its release. Women can't talk about sex and make shitting jokes with trashy humour thrown in (that has become the norm in the post-American Pie era we live in) without someone raising an eyebrow and jumping on their keyboard to type out how this is totally not the way that women have been portrayed in film before and this is a revolution we have coming.

You all forgot the key ingredient in all the hubbub, though - the quality.

And, well, it wasn't very good now was it?

10 comments

  1. I hope you don't mind a guy commenting, but I found this post very refreshing!

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    Replies
    1. No, not at all? Why would I mind a guy commenting? Somehow that makes me more pleased at this comment since, I guess, a feminist film blog is mostly perceived as being just a female thing, when in fact it's really for everyone!

      Thank you for the kind words, Paul!

      Delete
  2. It's always great scrolling through my reader and seeing a new post from you.

    I haven't seen this one, and you've confirmed here pretty much every reason why I've been avoiding it.

    The only point I disagree on is that all films deserve a chance. I guess that makes me a snob, lol.

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    Replies
    1. w, that's so lovely to hear, thank you! (Makes me realise how much of a shit I am for not uploading more stuff frequently, really.)

      Nah, I don't think that's snobby at all. We all have our own preferences when it comes to watching films, so there is nothing snobbish about not wanting to watch everything in existence.

      Delete
  3. Yay, you're back!

    I found Bridesmaids so overrated, but I admit that it was WAY funnier when my friends and I watched it at 2am (?) Still, I couldn't get past toilet/sex jokes. Not my bag, really. Plus, it was FAR too long and actually quite depressing. I did, however, find Megan's speech about life biting Annie in the ass quite inspiring. I wanna say that to some people that annoy the fuck out of me.

    Anyway, nice post - I'm glad that we are mostly on the same page!

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    Replies
    1. Fingers crossed I am back! It's been crazy at my end, even with things slowing down there have been interviews, friend shit, bf stuff, etc. etc. But enough about that anyway.

      The 2am watch thing, oddly, does help in some cases. Depending in terms of what state of mind I am in, and what has been done in the night (haha).

      Sex jokes are fine with me, when I can actually laugh at them, but, I don't know man, it is still very disappointing that I didn't get into the film.

      And yes, fuck me it was long! I watched it in two sittings, though, so it didn't feel as long, but totally agree with you on that.

      Thanks for the comment (as always) Stevee. And, again, the linking on Tuesday Links!

      Delete
  4. Amazing article! I thought the movie was funny, but really nothing special. I'm surprised they actually nominated it for Best Original Script, there was nothing refreshing about it.

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    1. Thanks, Sati!

      Yeah, the original script nomination was a bit out of left field, including the fact that it was (supposedly) improvised...so it is a little odd.

      Delete
  5. Great post! Humor-wise I thought it was alright, but I agree with you completely about how wrong it is to call this a feminist movie. Especially this: "It's great that there are female fronted films, but at what cost? For women to speak about getting married as if that is their only aspiration in life?" SO true. So unfortunately true. If it's a movie about women, clearly they have to be getting married. And the main character has to be someone good at cooking, because, you know, keep them in the kitchen. And then the women have to be at each other's throats, because women are all catty and should hate each other, right? True, they weren't fighting over a man this time, which was refreshing, and there was a girl/girl friendship between Annie and Lillian, but they spent maybe, what, one scene actually talking and being friends? I believed they were BFFs because the movie told me so, not because of anything they did together in the script.

    So, yes, brilliant. We need more posts like this. Pronto!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks M!!!

      Don't know what to say apart from I agree with everything you said, especially with the Annie/Lillian relationship, which, now thinking about it after what you've said, I realise I felt like that too!

      Delete

 

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