Bridesmaids wins

Much has been written about Bridesmaids and its potential to turn the tide for women in Hollywood. Indeed, it made at least $24 million in the first weekend, and appears to continually be luring both the ladies and the men into theaters this week. I saw it yesterday, fittingly, with one of my best and oldest friends (let’s just say, I remember Jen when she was galloping through the playground pretending to be a unicorn). We both laughed our asses off and wished it would never end. Here’s a little bit of why:

The dialogue between the besties was powerfully authentic. I know that not all women talk to one another like this, but my friends and I have a rapport very similar to that which takes place between Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph’s characters–supportive, sometimes gross, laced with humor. Listening to them riff produced one of those moments where I realized how totally unrelatable most movie dialogue is, but I’ve grown so used to it that I didn’t realize that it was even possible to resonate on this level with characters in a Hollywood flick. Refreshing.

Kristen Wiig struck me as very Lucille Ball-like in this film–creating all this powerful humor, both physical and non-physical, that I just couldn’t imagine being written into a script so much as conjured up in the moment, full of inspiration. One of my favorite moments took place when she tried to get out of a ticket by pretending to pull a “flirty girl” act. It was layers of social commentary on top of one another without a whole lot of fanfare.

Melissa McCarthy, as has been written about elsewhere, was fucking awesome. As she busted out of every gender stereotype possible, or fulfilled them to freakish, reclaimed proportions, she definitely stole the show. I’ve been loving this lady since my Gilmore Girl days, so it was a blast to see her in a more comedic, no holds barred role like this.

Wilson Phillips, “Hold On,” is, indeed, my karaoke song. (Along with Lil’ Mama’s “Lip Gloss.”) “Hold On” is featured prominently in the film. As it should be.

If you haven’t seen it already, do it. If you’ve already seen it, tell other people to. Let’s keep the streak alive.

Join the Conversation

  • kristen

    yep, i loved it too. especially the wilson phillips! my friends and i used to sing along to that record in my parents’ garage back in the day. awesome. and while i think there were a couple things not to love about it (mostly the necessary romantic side plot, complete with girl-gets-guy ending), i am for the most part thrilled that a movie written by and starring WOMEN is achieving mainstream success.

  • Salena

    Great post, I also loved the movie. The scene in the cafe after they spy on the exercise class was one of my favorite movie exchanges in such a long time.

    Also, just a heads up, it’s Kristen Wiig, not Wig.

  • Mark Kernes

    Um … it’s “Wiig.”

  • Crystal

    This movie definately had its funny moments; however, it was also extremely fatphobic. Bridesmaids managed to reinforce just about every negative stereotype about fat women and it is shocking that an article on feministing would ignore this just to praise a movie because it centers around a female friendship (its not like this plot is original).

    • braveasanoun

      Really? I didn’t find it to be fatphobic at all, as someone who’s been teased a lot for being “fat” (I put it in quotes because I’m probably too small to be considered fat by the fat community). No jokes were made about Melissa’s weight, and I thought she was probably the funniest person in the movie. No mention was even made about her weight.

      • Crystal

        Yeah, I found this movie to be very fatphobic. The way in which Melissa’s character was represented as excessive (fat is often associated with excess bodily functions). Also, the way her character was represented as “kinky” in a very over the top way (not that there is anything wrong with “kinky” its just that fat female characters in these types of movies are often represented this way sexually and in this case one of the sex scences also involved food – a 6 foot sandwich – which is such a stereotype). I thought this was really overt, I am actually surprised by the praise for Bridesmaids on feministing to be honest. Just because this successful comedy contains funny leading female characters doesn’t mean it can’t be criticized.

      • Christine

        I agree. I did not really see it as fatphobic. In fact, I am worried that so many people are used to fat folks being the but of jokes BECAUSE they are fat, that many critics are projecting this “fatphobic” theme onto the film. Thinking back, I can remember McCarthy using her body for comedic effect a couple of times (ie. throwing herself on the couch at the dress store, tacking Kristin Wiig on the plane), but I feel as though these moments were part of a slapstick comedy of the film, rather than poking fun of McCarthy’s weight.

        Melissa McCarthy herself said “I thought Megan was the most well-adjusted, the happiest with her life. To me she was the most confident one. Whoever is saying she was the mess-up or the this or that, I don’t know what movie you were watching. That’s their own perception just because I didn’t look a certain way.”

    • aLynn

      I definitely agree with your point about the sandwich, but as for the bodily functions thing, I just saw that as her getting hit with the food poisoning first…everyone else’s bodily functions went out of control after that as well.

  • Dawn

    This movie has been difficult for me. Everyone quickly supported it – which is great, cause women in comedy never get the attention they deserve. But – and this is a big but – it is still a Judd Apatow movie. Why am I supposed to ignore the offensive and insulting portrayals and representations and references to women in his other films, but praise him for this one movie where there are women? Not only are his previous films completely missing funny women, they are usually lacking women at all. I refused to congratulate Apatow for not making an offensive movie this one time. (and from what I hear, and mentioned above, it is offensive, specifically fat phobic).

    And, when you look at the plot line – in what world do women become the main focus? weddings. wow. creative. With the wedding scenario, women are allowed to be brought to the forefront and to have more than a few lines. But only within this female sphere. I refuse to celebrate Apatow for keeping women only talking about weddings.

    • braveasanoun

      But Kristen Wiig wrote the script. Should the blame be solely placed on Apatow?

    • Crystal

      Agreed! The plot is very cliche, no different from any other “chick flick.” Its still the leading female character whose life is going downhill until she meets a man, falls in love and lives happily ever after. I really don’t understand the uncritical praise for this movie!!

      • Christine

        I disagree. Though there is a romantic plot in the film, I don’t believe that Kristin Wiig’s character picks her life up because of the man. In fact, the conversation she has with Melissa McCarthy, in addition to the realization that her friendship is vital to Maya Rudolph are the turning points of the film. It’s not that man that allows her to change her life around; it’s her friends. And when she does decide to change her life, it’s then that she opens herself to a relationship.

    • honeybee

      I’m sorry but you haven’t actually watched many of his movies have you?

      There are ALWAYS funny women in them, from Jane Lynch to Leslie Mann to others. They may not have been the leads but then those movies were purposely about men told from their point of view.

      • Dawn

        Wow – that was rude. Why do people feel the right to be rude online?

        I have sadly seen Apatow’s other movies. Dragged and sat horrified throughout Superbad, Knocked Up, The Hangover, the 40 Year Old Virgin, Stepbrothers, and many more. Just because the guy did Freaks and Geeks doesn’t make him free from critique after 1999. Throughout his movies there are very few women present (maybe 1 for the whole movie) that has more than 4 lines. Also, his horrifying portrayals in the films often include sexual assault jokes (see 40 year old virgin “find the drunkest girl you can” scene). Also, the supporting characters the women are written as usually play upon cliches or are just not interesting characters. The Hangover had women portrayed as “ball and chain bitches” who wouldn’t let the men have any fun, and I believe they weren’t frequently shown in the film.

        Apatow has a history of making offensive films. So yes, sometimes there are ‘funny women’ in the films, but the films still perpetuate horrible attitudes surrounding women. The films are still as you said “purposely about men told from their point of view” – and so apparently men’s point of view includes sexualized and objectified views of women, with you know sexual assault thrown in for laughs.

        So yes, sorry but I have actually watched Apatow’s films, have you? How about watching them critically?

  • davenj

    “wished it would never end”

    More like felt it would never end. 125 minutes is just too much, and seems like a bad follow-up to the Apatow “Funny People” trend of making absurdly long comedies that never hit their stride because the scenes stretch out too long.

    Even so, McCarthy was a triumph. She gets asked to do a lot, and her range and gameness for every scene was awesome.

    I also question that this movie is fat-phobic. McCarthy’s weight is never commented on, and far from making her character asexual (as is often the case), she’s the most overtly sexual (and confident) character in the entire film. Her brashness and comedic persona seem to be a mild inversion of the “fat friend” trope, in the vein of Galifianakis in “The Hangover”, but with more personal success.

    Jon Hamm’s very funny, too, in an anti-Draper role.

    The problem, though, is that the core relationships in the movie (Wiig-Rudolph, Rudolph-Byrne, and then Byrne-Wiig) are never adequately fleshed out or explained, even though a ton of time is spent on them on-screen. It’s pretty lazy, and the movie just expects us to buy friendships on overt explanation, a severe case of telling, not showing.

    Even worse, the movie brings in a lot of subplots that don’t really go anywhere or get resolved. The jewelry store subplot goes nowhere, Wiig’s mother (who never even gets named) is a gimmick for Alcoholics Anonymous jokes, and the bakery subplot is very thin for a movie that’s 125 minutes long.

    Is the movie fat-phobic? I don’t think so. Is it particularly problematic in other areas? Not that I can think of.

    That said, I just don’t think it was very good. Most of the scenes run long, and story-wise there’s a lot of extraneous stuff going on. McCarthy is tremendous whenever she’s in on the action, but there are gigantic sections where she’s not in it, and the movie just bogs down.

    I also dislike this notion that “Bridesmaids” is somehow the proof society needs that women are funny. When is this need for proof going to die? 30 Rock and P&R have been crushing for 5 and 3 years respectively, during which time a strong case could be made for one or the other as the best comedy on TV. If half a decade of female leads at the head of the best TV comedies isn’t proof I doubt “Bridesmaids” will satisfy people.

    • Crystal

      Fat women are not only represented as asexual, they are also often represented as hypersexual, and also sexually starved because they are supposedly so “unattractive” they will sleep with any man that comes along (and in comparison to the leading characters – to which the audience is intended to identify – her sexuality it set up as abnormal, this is quite clear). Her sexuality in this film is made into a joke in a way that it is not for the other characters. And as I mentioned above, the associations of her character with excess bodily functions (as if fat people cannot control their own bodily functions!!!) I think was the most offensive part. We live in a very fatphobic society and this film cannot be taken up outside of that.

      • Crystal

        Oh and also, the fact that “weight” or “fat” are not mentioned at all is not proof that this movie is not fatphobic. In fact, fat is often rendered invisible even while it is hypervisible. And we know that sexism racism, homophobia etc. often function in subtle ways without actually having to name race or sex explicitly. Why would we think of fatphobia as functioning any differently?

      • davenj

        “her sexuality it set up as abnormal”

        Hadn’t thought of it that way, but that is plainly evident. It may not have been overtly tied to her weight, but there’s quite a bit of covert stuff that gets applied, so it makes sense.

        I don’t think weight is rendered totally invisible in the film, but there’s definitely a strong case that the movie ties McCarthy’s weight to her sexuality in a way that inappropriately stereotypes fat people.

      • braveasanoun

        All of the women in the cast get sick. In fact, Megan’s bodily functions are on the mild end. Maya Rudolph craps in her dress in the middle of the street, and one of the other women throws up on another woman. I think this movie really goes against the idea that women can’t be gross, so wouldn’t it be condescending to not let Melissa McCarthy’s character partake in such humor to avoid stereotyping?

    • Jessica “Jess” Victoria Carillo

      I thought McCarthy played a more Tomboyish-role. Course I’ve only been able to see the previews

  • Margaret

    I gotta say, my opinion of this movie was perhaps tainted by the fact that a friend of mine read that it was good on feministing and so I expected it to be feminist. My bad. I have been saying for a very, very long time, that I’m sick of all the relaxed, non-romantic comedies about friends being goofy being centered around men. So I was admittedly impressed by a preview for a flick that seemed to follow the same theme but with female leads. I brushed off the wedding theme cuz the last dude comedy I saw was about a bachelor party. But honestly, I was pretty disappointed, and here’s why:
    1) I thought this movie would follow the “bromance” theme of movies by centering around women’s friendships with each other, perhaps with some sex and small shots of significant others thrown in. Unfortunately, a very typical romantic entanglement really works hard to overpower the friendship theme. If this blossoming new romance were shortened, or hell, thrown out all together, the movie would have had a lot more time to develop and enjoy the interactions between the 6 women the movie should have been about. When they were together, a lot of it was funny, and the movie would have been WAY funnier if they had focused on that.
    2) The romance itself was gross to me. This guy did not listen to her at all. So when she told him, very clearly and repetitively, “I don’t want to bake or talk about baking,” the first damn thing he does after sleeping with her is to shove baking in her face and push her to do it. She makes an excellent point: “You don’t know me, don’t try to fix me.” But almost immediately she begins feeling guilty and ends up spending a lot of time stalking him and making an ass out of herself to earn his forgiveness. No thanks.
    3) Addressing the character Megan – my issue with her sexuality is that she participated in a very extreme act of sexual harassment that was intended to be funny. Honestly, had I been in that guy’s shoes, I would have felt assaulted – not only did she apply verbal pressure and coercion in response to his very clear “NO!,” she used her physical body to prevent him from walking away from her. I don’t ever find that funny, I don’t care if it is a reversal of gender roles.

    My best guess would be that this movie was a lot funnier the way Kristen Wiig originally wrote it – and yes, I am making an assumption (which I would bet my life on) that the romance was played up and the friendships watered down because that’s the way the director’s or producers or patriarchs wanted it. The movie seems so patchy and thrown together, I’m guessing they screened it, and then they threw in a bunch of status quo crap to make it “palatable” to the promoters or who the hell ever. In any case, totally disappointed.