Review: Bridesmaids (with several links, for some reason)

I saw the movie “Bridesmaids” last weekend, and it was pretty hilarious. It was raunchy and vulgar over the top, and also heartwarming and realistic and a little sappy. There will probably be spoilers in this post. Just letting you know.

I liked a lot of what I saw in “Bridesmaids”. I liked Annie and Lillian’s friendship. They seemed like real people who really liked each other and who talked about real things (and really funny things), and who also sometimes did really stupid things and then got really mad at each other. I liked the jealous friendship dynamics, with Helen being so annoyingly perfect and Annie worrying that she would stop being relevant in Lillian’s life. I liked the really bad sex. I really liked watching Maya Rudolph take a crap in the middle of the road in a wedding dress.

There were a few things I didn’t like. Annie’s interactions with her roommates were sometimes really funny, but I don’t like seeing weird people just portrayed as weird without any redeeming qualities. I feel like those portrayals probably encourage people to make snap judgements about anyone they meet who acts/looks/talks differently from what they expect. I also agree with Amanda Marcotte that there were a few too many scenes of Annie feeling sad and down on herself and not enough scenes of everyone else being amazingly amusing together. But the things I didn’t like only bothered me a little bit, and they were definitely outweighed by the things I did like.

There are many discussions on the internet (and probably in non-cyberspace too) about how much of a feminist win this movie is. I would say it’s a pretty big feminist win, not because it intellectually or philosophically or even practically deconstructs the patriarchy (it’s the kind of movie that features a woman taking a dump in the middle of the street, for crying out loud), but because all of the main characters are women, and they are all fully realized, three dimensional characters with believable personalities that include both strengths and flaws, and they talk to each other about things that matter to them and that advance the plot and that are usually not boys. Is it kind of pathetic and really frustrating that a movie that features several women who are real people rather than plot devices, love interests, or stereotypes counts as a feminist win? Yes, absolutely, but that’s just how crappy things are for women in movies. (Disclaimer: I don’t watch a whole lot of movies these days, partly because of how crappy things were for women when I watched more of them, so it’s possible that things got better without me knowing. However, most of the trailers that I’ve seen and many pieces that I’ve read on the internet tell me that this is not the case.)

On a slightly different topic, just to be clear, when I say that “Bridesmaids” is realistic and that the characters are real people, I don’t mean that every action a character makes and every event in the movie is one that I would be unsurprised to see in real life. Like I’ve said and alluded to a few times, it’s an over the top comedy. The way Annie behaves when she’s drunk on the airplane is not the way most drunk people behave, at least not the ones that I’ve seen. I also can’t really imagine anyone actually ruining a party the way she totally destroys her best friend’s wedding shower. But in both of those cases, the feelings behind her actions were real and easy to relate to, and her actions were exaggerated for comedic effect. I feel kind of silly explaining what I think is a pretty obvious part of comedy, but some of the commenters on the posts I linked to didn’t seem to get it, so I guess it’s important.

I wouldn’t necessarily say that seeing “Bridesmaids” is a social responsibility, but I can see why some people might call it that. If you like toilet humour, sex humour, slapstick humour, or stupid humour, you should probably see “Bridesmaids” because you’ll probably like it, but also because it’s good to support movies about women that are actually funny so that more people make more movies like that. If you don’t like toilet humour, sex humour, slapstick humour, or stupid humour, you probably wouldn’t like “Bridesmaids”, and I don’t think you need to see it just to be supportive.

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