[SPOILER ALERT] In the weeks leading up to the release of “Bridesmaids,” all kinds of noise was made about how much was riding on this ensemble cast to prove, once and for all, that women can be funny. It was as if this was our one and only shot, and if Judd Apatow couldn’t turn these ladies into comedy gold, no one could, and there would therefore be no hope for our gender to do anything on film besides fuck, menstruate and cry, and Christopher Hitchens was right after all.
Well, I saw the film this weekend, and I am here to proclaim it a massive success. But! Not necessarily for the reasons I just mentioned.
Don’t get me wrong — I laughed. I cried. I was not surprised that women could carry off fat jokes and diarrhea jokes and semen jokes and puke jokes and fart jokes and drunk jokes. Why? Because my friends do that practically every time I see them.
No, the reason that I’m proclaiming “Bridesmaids” a massive success is that in between all of those wonderful gross-out jokes were jokes about women’s real lives. Not jokes at the expense of women, or jokes that women can get, but not be a part of. These were jokes for women, about women, based on experiences that are unique to women.
And they were fucking funny.
Let me give you an example, and in case you thought I was kidding the first time around, SPOILER ALERT.
Towards the beginning of the movie, Kristin Wiig’s character Annie meets her soon-to-be nemesis, Helen. Helen is Annie’s polar opposite: she’s gorgeous, rich, classy, and never does anything awkward in any social situation. In fact, she’s all of our polar opposites. She’s the woman whose mere existence shines a glaring spotlight on everything that’s wrong with our lives, real or imagined. We all have a Helen. Even Helen has a Helen.
Annie soon realizes that Helen is out to undermine her friendship with Lillian, Annie’s best friend from childhood who is the Bride of “Bridesmaids,” and for whose wedding Annie is the maid of honor. Helen conducts her steady onslaught in magnificently subtle ways — questioning Annie’s suggestions about what to do for the bridal shower and bachelorette parties, disagreeing with her opinion at every turn, choosing a bridesmaid’s dress that Annie can’t afford, and ultimately, getting her drunk on an airplane on the way to Vegas and replacing her as MOH (scandale!).
The movie didn’t rely on the over-the-top mean girl tricks, beat you over the head with the fact that women can be just as vulgar as men, or exaggerate situations out of fear that the reality of the story wouldn’t hold it’s own. The writers, actors, directors and producers behind the movie trusted that women’s lives have the potential to be mined for comedy, that we’re actually funny in our everyday interactions. And hey, look what happened: it worked!