Monday, May 23, 2011
Not Another Superhero Movie: Bridesmaids
Ah, bridesmaid-ism. You never forget your first time.
I was fortunate, in that the bride was absolutely wonderful (and I'm not just saying this because she reads my blog). She was conscious of everyone's body types and budgets, both of which varied greatly from woman to woman. She let us wear our own shoes (mine were $12 numbers from Payless) and enlisted me to help pick out her wedding shoes (which, unlike throwing bachelorette parties or showers, was something I was comfortable with). She also gave each bridesmaid a really nice gift, which I still use four years later. Bride win!
Still, I became intrigued by bridesmaid culture, fascinated by those who had way worse (and more expensive) experiences than my own. As my broke-ass roommate and I somehow got the We channel, I avidly watched Bridezillas (oh, the screeching! oh, the judgmental rhyming narrator! oh, the old-school theme where the bride breathed fire!). I was fascinated, not just by the harpy brides, but their equally crazy attendants. What is it about a wedding where spending exorbitant amounts of money and treating your nearest and dearest like dog poo suddenly becomes not only acceptable, but expected?
I have never seen a movie that captures the insanity--not to mention the class warfare, friendship dynamics, and life uncertainty--as skillfully and hilariously as Bridesmaids.
Annie (the phenomenal Kristen Wiig, who also co-wrote the film) is in a slump. Her bakery business collapsed due to the economy, and now she's stuck in a dead-end job at a jewelry store while sharing a crappy apartment (genuinely crappy, not movie crappy aka still nicer than my apartment) with two odd roommates. Oh, and her friend-with-benefits Ted (Jon Hamm: yes ladies, he's naked) doesn't like it when she spends the night. When Annie's best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph, who really should have a better career) announces her engagement and asks Annie to be her maid of honor, Annie's confronted with financial concerns, life questioning, and the other bridesmaids, who range from Disneyphile newlywed (Ellie Kemper) to desperate housewife (Wendi McLendon-Covey) to just plain weird (Melissa McCarthy) to "I'm a more awesome friend than you" one-upper (Rose Byrne).
Can I just say how all the articles expressing surprise that Bridesmaids is doing so well at the box office just kiiiill me. Everyone is SO surprised that women who aren't named Tina Fey can actually be funny. That Yet Another Silly Wedding Movie is raking in almost as much buckage as the latest dumb superhero popcorn flick. (Don't get me wrong, I love a good superhero movie. What I don't love is when every other damn new release is about superheroes.) That--gasp!--both women AND men are turning out in droves and really enjoying themselves.
Well, Hollywood, this is what happens when you greenlight a movie that's actually good.
Because all hilarity and hijinks aside, Bridesmaids is a solid film. Everything from the Milwaukee setting to the actual wrinkles (!) on the thirtysomething actors to the re-enacting of 90's pop songs (I don't know about you, but I have some sort of dorky dance inside joke with most of my friends) feels genuine and straight out of real life. Sure, some sequences of defiling expensive gowns and bad reactions to prescription drugs on airplanes are over-the-top, but they're balanced out by scenes dealing with class warfare, dreams deferred, and jealousy of new friends. There's an early scene, largely improvised by Wiig and Rudolph, where Annie and Lillian are having brunch, which so accurately captures close friends catching up that I felt like I was watching a re-enactment of brunch with any one of my pals.
Just...see this movie. If you've ever been in a wedding, see this movie. If you've ever played the comparison game (money, relationships, what have you) with others in your peer group, see this movie. If you've ever dealt with how a friendship has changed over time, see this movie. If you want to see the funny overweight lady stereotype turned on its ear, see this movie. If you like to watch really darling Irishmen be really darling (Chris O'Dowd, I loved you on The IT Crowd and I love you now--I'm single!), see this movie. If you want to laugh and laugh and laugh while also wanting to cry a little, see this movie.
If you're like me and you're sick of bad comic-book adaptations and silly rom-coms with Katherine Heigl, see this movie.
Just see this movie.