Hollywood

Bridesmaids: Females Competing for Status and Laughs

May 18, 2011

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Wiig’s Annie feels threatened in her position of Best Friend Forever by Rudolph’s character’s new pal, the bride’s fiancé’s boss”€™ second wife. (Got that? Male viewers will bemoan the lack of family-tree diagrams.) Rose Byrne plays a Chicago society lady who is prettier, richer, and much better organized than Annie from Milwaukee. Bored, she wants to stage a coup and overthrow Annie as chief planner.

It’s refreshing to see a movie where women compete not over a man, but, realistically, over social status among women. On the other hand, you can see why most chick flicks don”€™t go this route. In Bridesmaids, the stakes are low and it’s hard to care who will get to organize the wedding shower. Why not let the rich Chicago lady do the work?

There is an interesting parallel between the two rivals and their hometowns. America used to be full of prosperous mid-sized industrial cities such as Milwaukee. But in winner-take-all 21st-century America, Chicago outclasses Milwaukee the way Washington dominates Baltimore. Unfortunately, the film was shot in suburban Santa Clarita, California, with a road trip to Oxnard, so not much can be done visually to express the Milwaukee v. Chicago dichotomy.

At 125 minutes, Bridesmaids is quite long for a comedy. The pacing is intentionally slow to pile up the audience’s discomfort, thus eliciting nervous laughter. My wife found it hilarious, but to me, it was either 20 minutes too long or too short.

Most of the movie’s laughs come from the odd man out among the five bridesmaids”€”the groom’s sister, a hefty lesbian who dresses like Hall of Fame golfer Ben Hogan. The metajokes are that lesbians are clueless about what most women like. Because nobody else much cares what obviously butch women think, the other bridesmaids never react (either positively or negatively) to her inordinately off-target conceptions of feminine fun. When the girls are arguing over a shower theme, the lesbian interjects her conception of a crowd-pleasing notion: fight club! “€œWe get there early, oil up, then when the bride arrives, we beat the crap out of her!”€ The other women listen politely, then immediately go back to debating whether Annie’s suggested Parisian theme hasn”€™t already been done to death.

 

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