Man-love has long been celebrated in Hollywood, redefining itself decade after decade; from the 60s Westerns through the 70s in disco movies to the 80s cop buddy film, and so on. I
Man-love has long been celebrated in
Hollywood, redefining itself decade after decade; from the 60s Westerns through
the 70s in disco movies to the 80s cop buddy film, and so on. In the Noughties
the term ‘bromance’ was coined and these films – generally a heightened
depiction of such platonic love that at has been hilarious, grotesque, honest
and even warm – have reigned supreme. Probably the most successful and extreme
example of this riotous masculine love-in is The Hangover, which had audiences,
men and woman alike, heading off to the cinema in droves. Meanwhile, women are
often depicted in sappy roles, generally ‘rom-com’ films featuring the likes of
Julia Roberts or Kate Hudson playing a ditzy gal desperate to find her man as
the principle comedic representation of women on screen. But not any more ladies and gents…
New film Bridesmaids, out on theatrical this
Friday, has exploded onto the gross-out comedy scene challenging the likes of
The Hangover with a more witty, frank and intelligent portrayal of the genteel sex. But more than this, Bridesmaids paves
the way for a more honest depiction of woman and signals a big heave-ho to the
whimsy bride films (remember Bride Wars, anyone?) filled with powder puff roles
for women. This film is already a phenomenal success, having already pulling in
over $125 million at the US box office, it flies in the face of statements such
as those by English-American author Christopher Hitchens who once suggested
‘women aren’t funny’. American website Salon.com even stated that Bridesmaids
dispels the ‘fear that audiences don’t want to see women behaving like buffoons
when they could watch Kate Hudson or Katherine Heigl pining for some lovable
rogue?’ Here, here!
So what’s it all about?
Bridesmaids is about a bridal party headed up
by Annie (Kristen
Wiig), a down in the
dumps thritysomething women who is plodding through life. This is until her
childhood friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) announces she is engaged
and asks her to be her Maid of Honour. After being introduced to the rest of
the bridal party Annie meanders her way
through a series of disasters and misdemeanours exasperated by the bride’s new
best friend and total bitch, Helen (Rose Byrne), who covets Annie’s role as
Maid of Honour. It’s written by
Kirsten Wiig (a Saturday Night Live regular) and Annie Mumolo, directed by Paul
Feig and produced by none other than Judd Apatow (Knocked Up and 40 Year Old
Virgin), which gives you a good indication of what to expect from this
film. Although Bridesmaids in
undoubtedly part of the gross-out comedy pack its central core and message is
about the bonds of female friendships and how much crap Annie will take to
ensure her best friend has a good time, even if she is slowly falling apart.
What’s all the hype about?
Bridesmaids spells a new phenomenon: gone is
the enviably (and unrealistically) supper successful female protagonist who is desperately
seeking ‘The One’. Instead, welcome the sis-mance!
Bridesmaids shows up these vapid films for
what they are – full of unrealistic stereotypes, and instead shows real women
warts ‘n’ all (did we mention the vomiting, belching, bum bleaching and foul
language?) and their undeniable – but underexposed – friendships in the spotlight. Yes, maybe hamming them up a little
along the way, but never sinking them into stereotypes. This is the reason
critics have cited Bridesmaid as hilarious; Daily Mail critic Baz Bamigboye,
said when comparing it to The Hangover 2 ‘Scene
by scene, the funny bits were funnier, and the laughs lasted longer, in
Here’s a low down on the Bridesmaids bunch:
Annie (Kirsten Wiig) – The rundown Maid of Honour who has a boyfriend
who uses her for sex, whose cake business went south and is now stuck working
in a dull jewellery store.
Rudolph) – The refreshingly not overtly pretty bride and childhood
friend of Annie who has brought all her unconnected friends together, who have
zero in common, to help her prepare for her wedding.
Rita (Wendi McLendon)-
Lillian’s cousin and an exasperated mother of three boys who complains
that every surface of her home is covered in semen.
Helen (Rose Byrne) – Lillian’s new BFF. A
wealthy, well-connected, passive-aggressive, sly bitch who drives Annie to
spectacular ruin at every nuptial-related event.
Megan (Melissa McCarthy) – Lillian’s brutally honest nuclear
engineer and soon to be sister-in-law.
She’s loud, dirty mouthed, big hearted and eccentric.
Becca (Ellie Kemper) – Touted as the ‘innocent one’ she’s a newlywed
who you could compare to Bree from Desperate Housewives – likes pretty bowls
and babies but also has an unexplored wild side.
So what next?
More of the same, hopefully; though we doubt
anyone will be able to do it as well as Wigg and her clan. Its pathos and
non-sexualisation of women and the fact that not every woman in the film is a
taught and toned fox is refreshing; fingers-crossed that its success in America
will possibly be a green light for more real looking women in Hollywood. Also,
the hype around Bridesmaids proves that this type of comedic representation of
women in mainstream Hollywood is long over-due. It also says a lot about gender divides in Hollywood and how
women have to be dressed up, dumb-down and put in a little box labelled ‘chick
flick’ to be deemed funny and at that, it is only for a female audience. As
Bridesmaids illustrates, women are funny in all their real glory, and even to
the opposite sex. Forty pre-cent of viewers in the US are men. Another thing that
the Bridesmaids hype reveals is that men need to be convinced to go and see
anything that resembles a chick flick; something that a film like this and a
continuation of its pedigree will hopefully change. Bridesmaids isn’t some kind
of feminist revolution; it is simply a more realistic portrayal of women and
how funny they can be. It’s still a gross-out comedy that may not appeal to all
women (though probably it will all men) and the characters are, of course,
exaggerated for comedic value, but that’s just relative to the genre. We are
certainly looking forward to more films that show women chasing friendships
instead of men and don’t make women feel like lepers just because they are
single. Let’s hear it for the girls!