Comedy is a landscape typically dominated by men. Regardless of the actual quality of a film or its material, men can be expected to have a dominant role in whatever comedy they’re cast for. I’d have to stretch my cinematic memory to recall a straight-forward comedy that focused on the bonds between women, perhaps the problem is that there aren’t very many memorable American films of that nature. Even more confounding is if any such film displays a ratio of feminine bonding to vulgarity that say, The Hangover does for male bonding and utter crassness.
The exploits of The Hangover’s trio are celebrated as an opportune chance for male bonding and hegemonic affirmation. Women who enter such territory are often relegated to symbolic roles (an apt description I’ve read for Heather Graham’s role in the original is that she’s less a human being and more a physical manifestation of a breast). This male dominated genre makes one thing clear – women aren’t funny and instead suffice as markers of heterosexual masculine affirmation.
Enter Bridesmaids, a film to wreck the inner circle boys club. Here’s the thing about Bridesmaids: it’s good. Really good. It’s better than any of Todd Phillips’ male-driven fantasies and upper-tier among the Apatow-produced endeavors. Writers Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo have a fantastic handle on their characters, fleshing them out fully before subjecting them to ludicrous physical gags. It’s a straightforward technique that allows the audience to sympathize while laughing hysterically. Given the wedding setting, Wiig and Mumolo have to juggle plenty of characters, and do so admirably. There’s definitely a sense of community involved throughout the feature, one where everyone is in and out of character’s lives, maintaining a presence but never overtaking Bridesmaids’ central narrative.
The narrative conceit is that Annie’s (Wiig) best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) is getting married. Annie is the maid of honor, though faces stiff competition for the role in Helen (Rose Byrne). The social and economic divide between Annie and Helen plays an interesting role in the two vying for Lillian’s friendship, making for some remarkably funny exchanges between Wiig and Byrne. Meanwhile, Annie’s love life is dismal, instead having an “understanding” with Ted (Jon Hamm). She eventually encounters a police officer named Nathan (Chris O’Dowd), whose sincerity is misconstrued and questioned by the suspicious Annie.
Why was this film a tough sell? Advertisements have stressed the notion that it’s “for guys too!” I walked in and out of this film without the impression that this was geared toward a specific gender – it’s meant for anyone who enjoys a good comedy.