Saturday, November 10, 2012

...Never a Bride

Film: Bridesmaids
Format: DVD from Rockford Public Library on big ol’ television.

There are times when I suspect I’m humor-impaired. I mean, I think I have a pretty good sense of humor in general. I laugh at all sorts of things. I make a lot of jokes. If you listen to The Demented Podcast, I laugh all the time on it. There are tons and tons of things I find incredibly funny in the world. However, a lot of movie comedies just fall flat with me. I don’t think they’re funny, I don’t like the characters, and I barely crack a smile. I had hopes for Bridesmaids going in, but only slight hopes. Mainstream comedies have the same, basic stock characters in general and don’t tend to veer too much from the formula. With Bridesmaids, I don’t know if I’m seeing it that way because I expected to or because that’s how it is. Regardless, that’s how it is.

Bridesmaids was billed in a lot of respects as a female version of The Hangover. It’s not, although it plays on the same clichés. Men, in comedies, are motivated by pleasure, sex mainly, but pleasure in general. Men are little more than boys who can’t resist an impulse in Hollywood comedies. Women, on the other hand, are motivated by jealousy and more specifically, by jealousy of each other. So guess what the motivating factor of our main character Annie (Kristen Wiig) and her rival Helen (Rose Byrne) is. Did you guess “jealousy”? Wow, you’re good at this.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time going into the details of this film. Instead, I’m going to sum it up quickly. Annie is the owner of a failed business and is unable to maintain a relationship of any substance. Her best friend from childhood, Lillian (Maya Rudolph), gets engaged to a rich guy and asks Annie to be her maid of honor. Unfortunately, Lillian’s fiancé’s boss’s wife (follow that?) Helen is insanely jealous of the friendship between Annie and Lillian and has the money to essentially take over the wedding and ruin everything for Annie even further. And, of course, Annie is jealous of Helen’s life and money and somewhat jealous of Lillian’s relationship and it all comes out in mountains of bad behavior. But, it’s a comedy and not a very dark one, so it’s all going to come out fine in the end.

And that’s really where I am with this. It’s two hours and five minutes of bad behavior. I don’t buy the ending, I don’t like the characters, and I honestly resented having to spend this much time watching them self-destruct.

The other sell of the movie, aside from the fact that it’s a comedy about women and not a romantic comedy about women is that these women swear. They vomit. They enjoy sex. They talk about their sons masturbating. In other words, they talk about the kinds of things that people actually talk about. My wife swears creatively and well. She makes rude comments about things. I’ll give the film this—the women here frequently talk about subjects that real people talk about.

But not really. It’s a movie, and a comedy, which means that such conversations are intensified and buried in quirkiness. All of these characters are, like comedy film characters, caricatures who could not exist outside of a film. Nobody has the kinds of wacky escapades that are gotten up to here outside of something on a film. I mean, Annie, who hates flying, is fed a drug cocktain and starts to hallucinate, forcing the plane down. Has bad behavior happened on a plane before? Yes. But in a film, you can almost guarantee that something like that will happen, because the only way for a comedy film to sell itself is not to recreate the world, but to intensify it to an insane degree, and that’s certainly what’s happening here. It’s almost as if having everyday problems—the sort of problems that we well might experience when a best friend gets married or even when we discover that a best friend has other friends outside of us—aren’t “big” enough. So the filmmakers embellish and embellish and embellish and give us slapstick and vaudeville.

Really, I’m disappointed. I had hopes that this might not only break out of the “everybody is insanely quirky” mold that comedies fall into, but also might provide me with characters that didn’t fit into the cookie cutter molds. But all of these characters are stock, All of them (except, really, for Lillian) are a collection of idiosyncrasies rather than being people. And sure, there are parts of this film that are genuinely funny, but it’s not enough. The behavior here is a shade more ridiculous than reality television when it really just needs to be reality. The world is funny enough to sustain a real comedy that doesn’t take it to extremes. Sadly, this one wasn’t it.

Why to watch Bridesmaids: It’s funny if you go for that kind of thing.
Why not to watch: It’s also pretty insulting.


  1. I saw Bridesmaids when it came out, and must admit the jokes were a little too vulgar for my sense of humour. For this reason I didn't like the film, but on the plus side, I found the movie did a pretty good job in terms of characterization, and made me care about their plight, to some extent. The downside of this of course was a running time that exceeded what is usual for a comedy.
    I think 30 minute TV-shows are better for laughs, it's tough to sustain the jokes over a whole movie.

    1. I agree. I'm always a little leery of comedies or horror movies that run much longer than 100 minutes. It's hard to maintain the funny or keep the scares going for that much time.

      There are exceptions, of course, but not many.

  2. Wow. I'm no lover of this film, but I didn't think it was THAT bad. I just think the pacing on almost all the jokes was really off (they went on far too long). And it was incredibly overrated with all the awards stuff. But I do agree with most that Melissa McCarthy was the best part of the movie (not Oscar worthy, but the best part nonetheless).

  3. I agree with most everything you wrote. I didn't find this movie funny at all, and not because I was offended. I *did* react negatively to the simultaneous vomiting/diarrhea scene and ended up fast forwarding through it, but sadly there are a bunch of movies that throw jokes about those things into them nowadays. I laughed exactly once - the tackle on the plane. I listened to the cast commentary and all of them were practically peeing themselves they were laughing so hard over how one of them was overdressed for a party. Seriously. Maybe it's a male/female thing, but I didn't find that any funnier than the fact that she was brunette or that she was holding a drink.

    For what it's worth, I laughed quite a bit at The Hangover.

    1. @Nick--yeah. The jokes don't know when to cut off. It would have been better at maybe 100 minutes, but it would have been a lot better with a different motivation.

      @Chip--I liked The Hangover more, but I still think it was the most over-hyped film of that year.

  4. Completely agree. I felt like such a chauvinist when I reviewed it, as the only thing I liked about the film were John Hamm and Chris O'Dowd, as I thought they were so much funnier than all of the women, including Melissa McCarthy, who I just didn't gel with at all. I'd keep the Hangover comparison, but only because I didn't like that film either. And yes, the 'jokes' went on far too long, especially the speeches scene. It's not just a gender thing either, my girlfriend hated it more than me.

    1. It's almost as if it was made to prove that women are allowed to like that kind of humor, but it's something we already knew. My wife liked The Hangover far more than I did (liked it enough to see the sequel in the theater), so it's hardly shocking that there's a market for this.

      My biggest problem isn't the humor or that the jokes don't know when they've stopped being funny, but that it plays on the same stereotypes. This was supposed to be the film that broke those stereotypes.

      Oh, and yes, the toasting scene was almost physically painful for me and completely unfunny.