In honor of today’s Oscar Nominations, I’m doing a special post about the spectacular film, Bridesmaids. That’s right, spectacular. Comedy is rarely recognized at the Academy Awards, but this movie rises to the occasion. Melissa McCarthy undoubtedly deserves her nomination for Best Supporting Actress, and I’m always thrilled to see a woman in the Best Original Screenplay category – in this instance it’s two women, as Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo co-wrote the script. Yes, the movie is over the top and gratuitous at times, but here’s why it fits right in with everything RLB stands for:
1. Annie Walker
This protagonist, played by Kristen Wiig, is the opposite of every other comedic female protagonist of the cinema. What we usually see is Katherine Heigl or JLo (or their equivalent) taking their chosen career world by storm, while just missing the mark when it comes to romance. Until the end of the movie, of course.*
Not so for Annie Walker. She not only doesn’t have a perfect career, but her bakery failed due to the recession, and she kinda sucks at her filler job. She doesn’t posses an other-worldly beauty, yet also an inexplicable ability to remain single in spite of her gorgeousness and wild success. She’s single but dating, and her decisions and behavior regarding men is idiotic one minute and irresistibly charming the next. She’s also what I like to call an Everyday Beauty. A woman you might see walking down the street, and maybe you’d think “Huh, she’s pretty” and move on. Or maybe you wouldn’t notice her at all. In other words, she’s like most of us.
2. Every Other Woman in the Film
This isn’t the tale of Absurdly Beautiful, One Note Girl and her only Slightly Less Beautiful, Even Less Interesting BFFs. Even Rose Byrne, who represents (and fills the role nicely), the “Perfect One,” is really, really pretty without it being surreal. She’s the Prom Queen/Varsity Cheerleader/Trophy Wife that truly exists in the world. And all of the other bridesmaids are played by real, accessible women who we’ve all known versions of at some point in our lives. Hats off to Maya Rudolph, Melissa McCarthy, Ellie Kemper, and Wendi McLendon-Covey.
3. The Plot
This isn’t a movie “about women” that is in fact about one woman and her relationship with a man. We never even meet the groom in this wedding, and the bride isn’t the central figure of the entire universe just because she’s getting married. My favorite aspect of this film is that when our protagonist has reached the depths of her despair (as she must), it isn’t a man who pulls her out of it, but one of her friends. And isn’t that one of the most genuine instances you’ve ever heard of art imitating life?
4. The Script
Brief interlude of toilet humor aside, this movie is smart-funny. Which is not to say Intellectual or High-Brow. It’s smart funny because just about every funny moment in the film is the kind of funny that actually happens. It’s funny because the women are clever and creative and have real, vulnerable feelings. Rather than archetypes of idealized individuals, we get characters that are complex and flawed and therefore beautifully human.
In summary, I laughed out loud when I read the Oscar nominations this morning and saw Bridesmaids among them. Another female friend of mine teared up a little. Let’s hope this opens the door to more smart, funny films starring women who are as relatable and real as the women of Bridesmaids.
*Disclaimer: I own several of these movies. Sometimes they are very entertaining brain-cations. But it’s about time we see more films about women that break free of the restrictive romantic comedy formula.