The Inexplicable Love of Bridemaids and Why the Women of America Need a Course Correction
About once a year, I agree to let my wife pick a movie we should go see. Now, please save your sexism rants… my wife decides 98% of what transpires in our universe. She just sucks at picking movies, that’s all.
Case in point: Bridesmaids.
I’m not a fan of the genre as it is, but this was atrocious even by “chick flick” standards. Terrible characters. Not a single funny moment. Daring you to exit the theater by the mid-point.
And yet, despite the fact that my three companions (including the aforementioned Mrs. Movie Picker) hated this film with equal passion, the rebuttals came in fast and furious:
OMG…I saw it Saturday night and thought it was hilarious.
I’m shocked to hear… I’ve only heard the opposite so far.
OMG I loved it! I was cracking up the whole time!!
LOVED it! I think it’s you Mike!
Now, other than the fact that you people use OMG far too much, I have to say I’m disappointed. While I’m often chided for being too tough on movies, this one was terrible no matter how you slice it.
I’m not going to bother reviewing the movie at great length. After all, I’m hardly the ideal candidate to critique a chick flick comedy. Suffice to say that Kristen Wiig, one of the more popular Saturday Night Live performers in recent memory, co-wrote the script and stars in the film as a failed bakery owner who is, basically, a borderline sociopath. This is the kind of character you’d never befriend, let alone choose as your maid of honor – she’s intrusive, moody, and oblivious to the feelings and needs of anyone around her. As a result, she’s almost impossible to root for and invest in.
The movie simply takes the Hangover/Judd Apatow formula (he produced) and slides women into the male roles: the neurotic, ne’er do well lead who, despite constantly screwing people over, finds love and ends up saving the day (Wiig in place of Seth Rogen); the straight man who gets screwed over (Rudolph in place of you name it… Michael Cera, Justin Bartha, et al); the fat character who gets to spurt out the movie’s most vile commentary (Melissa McCarthy in place of Zach Galifianakis)… well, you get the point.
Like most SNL performers who enter the movie arena, this plays out as a series of small skits rather than a consistent story with plot points that tie together and characters that develop. Here, you get such beauties as:
- Dueling Bridesmaids Speeches
- The Mexican Feast from Hell
- Psychotics 101: How to get a cop’s attention
In between, Wiig tries to hold these skits together with dramatic attempts to show her character’s continued downward spiral (when it’s impossible to feel sorry for her, since she simply throws all the good elements of her life away – her job, her newfound relationship, etc – for no other reason than she has to for the sake of the story. Also, I get the fact that she lost her bakery, but does that mean she can’t get a job working for someone else’s bakery?? Instead, she quits cooking altogether, as apparently it is evil).
I remember first watching Wiig in Knocked Up (she had a small part as part of the E! staff) and thinking how good she was with her dry delivery. But much like Aldous Snow’s character in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, it was easy to see that a little of that was more than enough. And much like Get Him to the Greek (which revolved around Snow and attempted to make him a dramatic figure at times, too), you start hating the main character right away. And once you hate the main character, you don’t find their misadventures very funny… just sad and annoying.
So the question becomes: why did YOU like it?
I won’t pretend that I didn’t hear gaggles of women in the audience cackling throughout the movie. So is it me? Was this movie simply out of my realm?
No. It’s not me, it’s you.
To paraphrase Lewis Rothschild in The American President:
People want intelligent female characters, and in the absence of genuine female characters, they’ll listen to anyone on screen. They want female characters. They’re so thirsty for them they’ll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there’s no water, they’ll drink the sand.
You, Women of America, are drunk on sand. You’re so desperate for strong and smart portrayals of women (and justifiably so) that you’ll gleefully eat up anything even remotely resembling it. It’s why people adore Tina Fey (who, while somewhat talented, gets 10x the credit she deserves).
It’s why The Hunger Games is the new mega-popular book series, when in actuality, it’s horribly written (it makes JK Rowling look like Kurt Vonnegut) and after about 2/3 of the way through the first book (there are three of them), it falls off the tracks and never recovers (and yes, I read them all just to make this single point). But here we have an ass-kicking, beautiful young woman who takes care of her family… and while surrounded by men (some who keep throwing their affections at her endlessly despite her constant rejection/standoffish behavior), she never lets them dictate what she does. So while that chick in Twilight represents the inner lust of every 30- and 40-something women who reads those books, Hunger Games represents what those women want their daughters to become (well, maybe not thrown into a winner-take-all death arena, but someone who survives and thrives in a dog-eat-dog world while keeping her head, and…of course… never having sex until she’s married). Sigh.
And it’s why we perpetuate this goofy myth that Sarah Palin has the slightest chance to become president (you might not think so, but according to recent recent polling, she’s right up there in the mix after Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty). People want to know that we are making progress… that women have a shot to lead us.
I know how much you need it and want it. But by throwing your support toward movies with no vision or ambition, or poorly written books, or poorly prepared, close minded presidential candidates, you’re not raising the bar. You’re not asking anyone to step up and make real entertainment or present real role models that are worthy of the mantle.
I get it – you don’t have much hope, so you take what you can get. But you deserve better.
I realize that’s quite the tangent to go off on, but I need to get it off my chest. Carry on, my wayward sisters.
The Hunger Games trilogy: D+
Sarah Palin: F
The general taste of Women of America: C-