Wiig to the Rescue

Bridesmaids (2011). Directed by Paul Feig. With Kirsten Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne

Finally!  I had mourned the feminine slump of uncasted strong female leads and the unnerving habit of filmmakers to soften an ambitious woman’s trajectory in order to land the threatened male chump.  One culprit, Judd Apatow performs penance with coproducing Bridesmaids (2011).  Screenwriters and Groundlings improv friends Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig had a guardian angel through Apatow’s Blockbuster reputation.  Only one scene involving dress fitting and food poisoning veered into romp territory (It had been requested by Apatow).  Thanks to The Hangover (2009) Wiig and Mumolo had to alter a Vegas Bachelorette party, instead they managed hilarity within the confined space of an airplane.

Uninspired filmmakers pretend to show profundity by inserting a scene of dialogue that outlines the thesis of the friendship.  Usually, this part feels forced and awkward.  Bridesmaids skirts this horrible flaw.  Director Paul Feig has a smattering of strong television directorial credits such as Freaks and Geeks, Weeds, The Office, and wonderfully written and executed Parks and Recreations.  Wiig as Annie makes her lead debut getting tossed and bounced like a doll for Ted’s (Mad Men’s male personified Don Draper, Jon Hamm) selfish needs.  She tragically breaks code by sleeping over and endures humiliation on an emotional and physical scale the next morning.

Then audiences notice the soul of this film.  Her rehash over breakfast with Lillian (SNL steady Maya Rudolph) where Lillian illuminates the damage these encounters with Ted cause.  Annie attempts to belittle Ted’s rudeness, but Lillian like a real friend fights for Annie’s best interests.  As the film progresses, Annie’s Cake Store business and personal failures are revealed.  Creeping toward late 30s, her financial and living situation are not enviable.  In the midst of her pain, Lillian becomes engaged and asks Annie to be her Maid of Honor.  Despite Annie’s struggles, she is happy for Lillian.  Wedding preparations and events isolate Annie from confiding in Lillian.  Annie must deal and process her anguish alone.  A new suitor Officer Nathan Rhodes would be her savior in other movies.  Annie resolutely states that he should not try to fix her.  She takes ownership of her life.  While kind, it was wrong for Nathan to push her back into baking.  When Annie does make one elaborately, beautiful cupcake, she bites into the confection without joy.  Several critics have been touched by this scene, which is an honest view into her inner monologue.  Annie battles and suppresses jealousy toward friend rival Helen (Rose Byrne, co-star in FX’s Damages).  Helen has the trappings of wealth, youth, model physique, and snappish passive aggression that rightly gets a thrashing later on.  Lillian’s groom is barely represented.  The film relies upon its female comediennes and universal humor from truth to substantiate the entertainment.  Annie is not “fixed” or financially solvent by the film’s end because this is more European in conclusion.  Improvements in life take time once one acknowledges agency and willingness to claw for more.  Firstly, faith and care of oneself are paramount.

Exceeding 66.5 million on May 27thBridesmaids has more than covered budgetary costs and holds steady at weekend grossing post opening.  Production and Distribution companies take note.  Women and men have disposal income for well written films that can include a large percentage of women.  Film diets on Comic Book characters and military legends don’t need to be the only staples.

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