There is a lot I could talk about Bridesmaids. When the trailer first surfaced, I posted my concern that the film looked like a rehash of most of the Apatow-gang “dude flicks” but centered around a female lead instead. My main concern was not about the film simply being a rehash but that judging from the trailer, the Apotow-gang, who for the most part is made up of dudes, did not get women at all. I might have judged a little too early. But, although I am still not entirely convinced they do, Bridesmaids remains a very funny movie.
For the most part Bridesmaids plays along the conventions established by the Apatow “dude flicks” and their plotlines; it has the expected “bro-mance”, the romantic subplot, lots of penis jokes (but surprisingly no penises), breast jokes, a hint of realism, and some heart to it. And, of course it gets most of its laughs from those incredibly awkward moments we have all lived through. But, oh God did this movie have its share of awkward moments.
I once got into an argument with a feminist about the portrayal of the female body in films. She was concerned that most of the time a woman is portrayed bare-naked in a movie it is for the audience to gawk at her beauty; it satisfies the pleasures of men while dehumanizing women. Meanwhile when a man is portrayed in the same manner it is generally for the purpose of laughs or shock. This is somewhat true, but at the same time, it is no one’s fault that breasts are beautiful while penises are odd looking, to put it mildly. So, it is of no surprise that when a woman is shown naked the audience admires the beauty while they laugh to evade the awkwardness of staring; and that in fact the penis joke and the fart joke are really not that different in this respect. Filmmakers like producer Judd Apatow, and director Paul Figg have made a fortune and art form from fooling around with this awkwardness induced laughter.
There is no nudity in this film (surprising for an Apatow production) but there is a lot of that same awkwardness caused by fart jokes. The female characters in the movie do “women’s things”; they bake, they plan weddings, bachelorette parties, and “experiment” but they do it in a dude-like manner by firing fart and penis jokes every now and then. The fact the filmmakers tried to bring out this kind of humor out of a female lead is an interesting experiment. At times they succeed, sometimes they don’t; I would say it is split 50/50 but it is hard to tell if the awkward moment was intentional or not. Am I laughing because they wanted me to laugh, or because otherwise it would be too hard to watch? Does it make a difference; I laughed didn’t I? I think in the process of trying to make the audience laugh, the filmmakers stumbled into a new sub-genre: the female bro-mantic comedy, or the she-brom-com for short.
There's the fart joke.
In case you are still wondering what this movie is about, because maybe you haven’t seen the trailer, it is about two childhood friends, Annie (Kristen Wiig) and Lillian (Maya Rudolph). Lillian is getting married and appoints Annie as her maid of honor. Of course Annie is excited for her friend but at the same time she is extremely jealous of her, not only does Lillian have someone who loves her (but he also happens to be extremely rich). The other bridesmaids are other friends of Lillian from life that Annie doesn’t particularly know that well: her college friends, cousins, and her future sister in law Helen (Rose Byrne). Helen is everything Annie is not, successful, extroverted, lively, and for the most part likable. She is also, increasingly, a better friend of Lillian. So there is a rift between the maid of honor and the bridesmaids as the fight for the bride’s attention and friendship, which causes them to embarrass themselves, hijack their love lives and pretty much ruin the wedding. It is a good set up for the experiment the filmmakers were preparing to embark on. And for the most part it holds up.
I could continue writing about this. But I would much rather hear the female take on the movie. So, if there is a female reader who would like to a) write a response to the review after seeing the movie, or b) just write a review and submit it so we can post it, it would really be appreciated. After all that is what the whole idea of blogging is about: dialogue. Honestly, it would be really cool to get one.