Photo Credit: Universal Pictures
Visit the Bridesmaids Official Website!
When I was a theater major at Northwestern University (Go Wildcats!) I had an acting teacher who was incredibly pompous, learned, and pretentious – all at the same time. He was also … let’s just say it … rather puffy in that acting teacher kind of way, by which I mean prone to making pronouncements about the “art” of acting and the “technique” of doing which were all very vague and too esoteric for my addled 19-year-old brain. He did, however, leave me with one singular impression that I have always remembered and found to be absolutely true in reality: the rarest type of performer in existence is a beautiful woman who can do comedy.
Think about it: how many comic beauties are there in Hollywood? (And I’m not including those legendary doyens of comedy like Lucille Ball and Candice Bergen, who were luminescently beautiful and screamingly funny at the same time). You can count the current number of funny ladies with model looks on one hand. With the release of Bridesmaids, I am happy to announce that you will now need two hands. Yup, put down the Chardonnay and take a deep breath, Phyllis, you need ‘em both! Finally…
The film features a cadre of uproarious and fresh faced comediennes (emphasis on the “enne”) who dare to go where virtually no female comedy has gone before: into the toilet. You might think it’s a good thing that most comedies about women tend to depend on softer moments of romantic frustration and the interplay of verbiage rather than the unapologetic, gross-out vulgarity guy comedies are made of. I (and I don’t think I’m in the minority here) find the treading of the female comic mind into hitherto male territory to be refreshing and even slightly revolutionary. Oh, and it’s hilarious to boot. I mean very, very funny. A buddy movie without a Y chromosome? Sign me up! (Oh, and for the record, I am quite male. I checked.)
Here’s a brief plot synopsis: a fairly nice if not especially blushing bride-to-be named Lillian (Maya Rudolph) asks her best friend since childhood, Annie (played by the oh-my-god-she’s-so-freakin’-brilliant Kristen Wiig) to be the maid of honor at her wedding. Lillian is a confident, well-composed woman. Annie is decidedly not, to put it mildly. Dot dot dot.
Her life is a bit of a disaster: her job sucks, she lives with a bizarre creature she refers to as her roommate, her car is a clunker, and all the men in her life flee from her like a Muslim from a ham sandwich. The one guy who actually likes her (played by Jon Hamm) is quite creepy and desperate in that special way that creepy, desperate guys just are.
So when Annie is given the opportunity to do something more than just operate in her now customary mode of desperation, she jumps at the chance – and not for the typically treacly “I want to prove myself” reasons you’d expect. She just wants to have fun.
Tagging along for the adventure (and ensuing disaster) is a band of bridesmaids—among them Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey and The Office’s resident oddball cutie pie Ellie Kemper—who all prove alongside Annie that women can be quite un-ladylike in the same way that every male lead after Tom Hanks has been unlike Cary Grant.
The best thing about the movie is that it consciously avoids that old sexist pitfall of pitting women against one another or deriving its humor from allowing women to make misogynistic jokes – or worse embodying them on screen. Perhaps because Wiig co-wrote the film – or perhaps because director Paul Feig describes himself as a “feminized geek” – the film treats its progressive feminist aims without a heavy-handed approach, which is perhaps the most revolutionary thing about the movie. Audiences will come out with a new respect for the female sense of humor – and one day the qualifier will deservedly die out. Women are funny, no matter what Christopher Hitchens or Jerry Lewis might have to say. The cast of Bridesmaids proves it. And how!