Bridesmaids finally showed up at my theatre this week. I work at a second run theatre and we always have to wait for the larger cinemas to finish with films before we can play them. Sometimes films come off really fast because they flop (like how we got Larry Crowne only three weeks after it opened) but then others take awhile. Now, we expect large films to take several months. Take Harry Potter for example, we won’t see that until sometime in September or maybe October. But Bridesmaids was a huge surprise. This movie had legs and it just kept running. For three months.
I was so excited for Bridesmaids that I watched it opening weekend with some girl friends and had a great time! The laugher followed us out of the theatre into the women’s washroom (where shinanagans ensued) and then to the chain restaurant we went to for lunch where our server questioned our sobriety but overall found us amusing. With three months between viewings I was happy to discover that Bridesmaids is just as funny the second time around.
There is a lot to be said about an R rated film that has grossed over $230 million, was written by women and stars a large cast of women who perform raunch comedy flawlessly. Much of the established discussion revolves around Hollywood and how it can keep making money from women being gross (move over boys!) but sadly, this point of view misses the point as Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly points out:
The message that Hollywood should be taking is: A comedy that’s raunchy and fearless, and also brilliantly written and shrewdly honest about what’s really going on in women’s lives, may actually connect with the fabled non-teenage audience (remember them?).
“Shrewdly honest about what’s really going on in women’s lives” is exactly what I love about this movie. Hollywood Ending author, Lucie Simone posted on her blog after seeing Bridesmaids and relating to the loss of friendship that happens to many woman after one or both friends become engaged and married. When re-watching the film I thought about this post and took notice of how socially, women’s friendships from girlhood are meant to have an expiry date. Their relationships with one another must end so that affection and attention can be transferred to their rightful place: the husband. This all seems rather Freudian to me. But psychoanalytical or not, I understand the sadness that can come with a friend’s announcement of life changing events because you know that the two of you may no longer be on the same track and the friendship will change or maybe even end. I don’t think I have ever really watched a mainstream film about women that displays this kind of anxiety in such an honest way.
Additionally, I would argue that I haven’t seen a mainstream movie that shows women being themselves with one another. The scenes between Wiig and Rudoulph are some of the most relaxed, hilarious, and genuine moments captured on film. Clearly their off screen friendship and brilliant improve abilities are shining through and what the audience receives is an illustration of authentic female companionship. Friendship is penis imitations in a cute coffee shop after stealing exercise boot camp lessons!
Finally, a word about the poster above. This is the poster we have up at work and for months I have been eyeing the bold pink Chick Flicks Don’t Have to Suck! As much as I love this film I don’t think it needs to be held up as the anti-chick flick. I can only assume this was happening as a way to get men to watch and it might have worked. One third of the viewing audience for Bridesmaids was men. What bothers me about this tag though is that is suggests that there is nothing valuable from other movies starring women, about women. I think there is a lot that mainstream film making can take from the wit and wisdom of films like Bridesmaids but I don’t think we need to create a hierarchy of “chick” to legitimize the work of smart, talented women in Hollywood.