I probably should have been more optimistic about Kristen Wiig’s new movie, Bridesmaids, considering that it was written by a woman (Wiig) and directed by Paul Feig, the mind behind such genius shows as Freaks and Geeks and some of The Office episodes. But I was worried: Judd Apatow was the producer, and after Knocked Up and Superbad, I just wasn’t sure I could love him again.
But I was 100% wrong.
Bridesmaids was hilarious. Totally hilarious. The casting was pitch-perfect, and I really loved that I saw a lot of faces that I thought I recognized but didn’t quite (the only one I got right was Jill Clayburgh, who played Agnes Finch in Running with Scissors). The cast really was woman-heavy, as you would hope for a movie entitled Bridesmaids, and the actors were fairly representative of a range of body and beauty types.
The film definitely passes the Bechdel test, and the dialogue between the women was wonderfully and refreshingly real. There were moments when I felt like I was listening in to a conversation taking place at a diner between two actual women, women who are friends, good friends, rather than sitting in an ice-cold theater watching actors on a screen. It was surprising, and pleasantly so.
Before seeing the film, I’d read and listened to some reviews online and on the radio. I was concerned about a few things: that Melissa McCarthy was going to be used as the punchline for too many “look at the fat chick” jokes; that Maya Rudolph, despite being the bride, would be sidelined as the only woman of color with any prominence in the film; that the gross-out scene I’d heard so much about would be set up as a “isn’t it funny when women have human bodily functions?” But again, I was dead wrong. McCarthy owned her character, Megan, from start to finish. Most notable for me was the moment when Megan verbally kicks Wiig’s Annie back into fighting mode: Megan talks about going through high school “with all of this” (motioning to her body), how difficult it was but how she overcame by being her bad-ass self. Of course it was humorous, perhaps a little predictable – but I think it was important for the movie to acknowledge what is clearly a contentious issue in a lot of ways.
The portrayal of the relationships between the women – especially the tension between Annie and Helen (Rose Byrne) – was, again, refreshingly real. Wiig is a talented actor, with the ability to convey a huge amount of complicated emotion with a single facial twitch. The moment when Annie and Helen meet at Lillian’s engagement party is pretty much exactly how women react to each other: Helen’s insincerity coupled with Annie’s barely-veiled insecurity and crumbling self confidence had me smacking Donna’s arm and saying “God, yes, yes! That’s exactly how it is!”
And the gross-out scene! Well, I don’t want to get into details, as I hate spoilers. But let’s just say it was at once believable and incredible. And Donna and I are walking around now, saying to each other at the most inopportune times, “LOOK AWAAAAAAY!”
There are certainly many more thoughtful, feminist analyses of this movie. You should go read them:
All in all, 10 bucks well spent.