Monday Hangover: Bridesmaids

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Monday Hangover
Bridesmaids

By Chris Wisniewski and Farihah Zaman

On Mondays, two Reverse Shotters wipe the weekend from their bleary eyes and engage in a postmortem on the multiplex trash (good or bad) they took in.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Hollywood film made today starring women over 30 in leading roles must feature a scene in which one of those women poops herself. Kristin Davis suffered the indignation in Sex and the City, the last major American studio movie marketed to female audiences that wasn’t a straight-up rom-com (let’s just pretend the sequel never happened). In the Kristen Wiig vehicle Bridesmaids, it’s Maya Rudolph’s turn to have food-poisoning–induced diarrhea, and unlike the Sex-crement, a mildly amusing excuse for a pun (she went to “Poo-keepsie”, get it? It’s like Poughkeepsie but with poo), Rudolph’s is some epic shit. Gut-bustingly epic.

There’s already been plenty of ink spilled over the more scatalogical aspects of Bridesmaids, which Wiig co-wrote with Annie Mumolo. In its most hilarious laugh-out-loud scenes—it has at least two or three raucous extended sequences—the film out-grosses most man-centric gross-out comedies. What’s most surprising about Bridesmaids, though, is that it’s a real movie. Neither a you-go-girlfriend exercise in female empowerment nor a Hangover for ladies, Bridesmaids follows Wiig’s Annie, a down-on-her-luck Milwaukee woman recovering from a failed business (she opened an unsuccessful bakery) and a failed relationship (her boyfriend left her when the bakery tanked, leading her to seek solace by sleeping with a gorgeous jerk, played by Jon Hamm, who treats her with thinly veiled disdain). She’s still reeling from these setbacks when her best friend, Lillian (an under-utilized Rudolph), announces her engagement and asks her to be maid of honor, and also introduces her to her new best friend, Helen (a deliciously unlikeable Rose Byrne).

The movie is less a laugh-desperate extended SNL skit than a very funny character study of a woman’s depression and her struggle to get herself back on track. We already knew Wiig could make us laugh, but we didn’t know she was a strong dramatic actress. Bridesmaids lets her indulge in her neurotic schtick while giving her the opportunity to show some genuine emotional vulnerability. Who would have guessed that Wiig, whose high-strung and occasionally grotesque Saturday Night Live chracters have probably earned her as many detractors as admirers, would co-write a performance-driven movie that gives many of its funniest moments to Rose Byrne and Megan McCarthy (as the sister of the groom to be) and that also makes room for a charming Chris O’Dowd as an only slightly too-good-to-be-true love interest. Sure, it’s too long, and it pulls some punches, but Bridesmaids makes for a satisfying night at the movies. And with her film’s better-than-expected opening weekend numbers, Wiig might have helped save Hollywood movies for people who aren’t 14-year-old boys. —CW

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Chris, I never thought that I would get to giggle over the fortuitous meeting of the words “sex” and “poo,” and I thank you for that.

Kristin Wiig. Cute Irish cops. Gratuitous cutaways to puppies. What’s not to like about Bridesmaids? I must add to the consensus that the film is relatable, sweet, and pretty damn funny—right from the opening scenes of Jon Hamm, cross-eyed with pleasure, doing a thoroughly mediocre job in bed. The casting was both surprising and spot-on: Wiig, as you mentioned, reminds us that she’s an actress as well as a comedienne; Byrne proves she’s funny; and it’s refreshing to see Melissa McCarthy (Sookie on Gilmore Girls, and star of NBC’s Mike and Molly) utilized as not just another jolly quirky fat gal whose primary characteristic is her size. The only major disappointment was how little the rest of the ensemble was used. Reno 9-1-1’s Wendi McLendon-Covey and Ellie Kemper of The Office are featured in a few memorable scenes, but the film is not about the ensemble, as the posters and trailers lead one to believe.

Like women all over America who have been lucky (or unfortunate?) enough to be engaged during the rollout of this film, I took my actual bridesmaids to go see Bridesmaids. Under all the poop and circumstance lie some truths about female friendships under the strain of good times (marriage) and bad (depression), depicted with an enjoyable level of comedic exaggeration that does not obscure the overall authenticity. Wiig and Mumolo’s script manages to include the shades of envy, fumbling, and competition that sometimes color women’s relationships without being reductive. It may well be that our standards have been sadly lowered, but it’s still nice, even empowering, to see a comedy in which the female characters don’t spend all of their time being shrewish or feeling put upon, but are distinctive people with unique personalities who just hang out, deal with problems, and laugh about stuff.

After the film, my lady friends and I went out for a round of shots and some wedding planning. I’m happy to report that nobody pooped their pants, though someone did drop her phone in the toilet. Girls will be girls. —FZ