So I finally broke down and went to a box office hit movie on the last night of Memorial Day weekend. I usually try to see “serious” films so as to direct Borderstan readers to the finer things at the movie houses. But I went to see Bridesmaids.
I worried about the film’s vaunted raunchiness. I usually reject the masculine sexual hi-jinks in comedies about weddings like the Hangover series. I’m never that much amused by them, and I didn’t want to see a feminine version of the usual mayhem.
In a good wedding film, though, love conquers all, and the guests leave happy. That happens, with lots of laughter, for more than one member of the wedding in Bridesmaids.
But it is June, and Bridesmaids looked like the best of the many wedding movies around. I’d rather take an over-the-top comedy about ordinary women than the air-brushed agonies of rarified pre-wedding misunderstandings that seem to be the premise for movies like Something Borrowed or Jump the Broom.
I can now report that my fears were unfounded. Bridesmaids is really, really a blast. It is probably a “girls’ night out” movie, though. There were a lot of couples in the theater when I saw it, but I thought the laughter came mostly from the women. The sex episode that opens the movie might have been a bit off-putting to the males in the audience, but the women laughed themselves silly.
There was, of course, the expected gross-out when all the bridesmaids get food poisoning while they are trying on gowns. The details of vomiting and diarrhea, fully shown in the movie, evoked “eeeuw” reactions, but the sequence fit nicely into the overall theme of Bridesmaids. The fiasco resulted from the competitive efforts of Annie, the main character, to outdo the new friend of her old friend, the bride.
Annie’s feelings of failure are at the center of Bridesmaids, and Kristen Wiig plays those feelings with compelling nuance, despite the hilarious mayhem they cause. Some critics have bemoaned the fact that Wiig doesn’t let loose in the film, but I think she plays her character just right. Her relatively quiet performance gives the film a kind of weight that the other wedding movies of this season lack. Bridesmaids takes Annie seriously, after all.
Losing a best friend, male or female, to marriage is always a blow to one’s sense of oneself. Even though one may be included in all the festivities, a best friend’s wedding has already created another universe of relationships. The bridegroom or bride’s own circle and his family threaten to displace comfortable ties of old friends. And the couple’s happiness, symbolized by all the paraphernalia of modern weddings, throws a shadow on the everyday lives that have to be faced once the festivities are over.
In a good wedding film, though, love conquers all, and the guests leave happy. That happens, with lots of laughter, for more than one member of the wedding in Bridesmaids. And it happens in other wedding movies as well. I am thinking of the best wedding movie I know, The Philadelphia Story (1940), with Katherine Hepburn, James Stewart, Ruth Hussey, and Cary Grant.
But since there are many more wedding films, I’d like to construct a “Ten Best” list. I’d start with I Love You, Man (2009), just to show that I can enjoy male wedding movies. So what are your favorites? Make your nominations in the comments box?