Bridesmaids Review

Finally! A chick-flick that women can be proud of (and men can watch without wanting to kill themselves). Could it be a floundering genre has been saved from the firing line?
The chick-flick is in crisis. Over –hashed and predictable the tale of ‘the damsel’ has been in need of revamp for some time. When Bridesmaids came along with its pretty pink poster ads we didn’t expect much. Evoking deja vu of wedding- themed schmaltzy shockers- think The Wedding Date, 27 Dresses and Bride Wars – all we could muster was a dejected sigh. Wonderful! Another sugary sweet instalment of insincerity for the done-to-death Cinderella story cycle…Lucky us.
Alas, Bridesmaids is a barfing, burping, farting frenzy! Apparently, women have human bodily functions too- who’d have thought?! Oh, and they also come in all shapes and sizes, have imperfections, mediocre sex and occasionally, diarrhoea. Still think we’re dealing with Princesses? Meet Annie, (Kirsten Wigg) her bakery has gone bust, her boyfriend has left and she’s living with a demented brother and sister duo. She’s the disposable pleasure of smarmy f***buddy (Jon Hamm) whose post sex catchphrases include ‘I thought we had a rule about sleeping over?’ and ‘this is awkward… I really want you to leave.’ Hmm, and they say chivalry is dead!
Meanwhile, best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) has just announced her engagement, making Annie her Maid of Honour. Excited laughter turns hysterical. Needless to say, Annie does not take the news terribly well. Skint, she tries to fulfil her duties while keeping things budget friendly. Her attempts are soon thwarted by Lillian’s new bestie, snooty beauty Helen (Rose Bryne). Scheming and rich Helen is the girl you love to hate. Her sickly Stepford housewife get up will send eyes rolling and stomachs turning. By injecting extravagance of toxic levels, Helen ruthlessly takes the reigns, leaving Annie feeling alienated. The riot of ridiculousness which ensues provides regular laughs to be relished. Prepare for fierce competition, bad Brazilian food and boozy aeroplane antics. The casting from larger-than-life oddball nympho Megan, (Melissa McCarthy) to lovable twerp Officer Rhodes (Chris O’ Dowd) borders on perfection.
Refreshingly, the women aren’t placed on a pedestal. Death to the romanticized image! Here, the usual extremes of the ‘virgin’ and the ‘whore’ are nowhere to be seen. No Strings Attached and Friends with Benefits, led the charge in sleighing the stereotype. They showed modern women engaging in new fad ‘F***buddy’ relationships judgement free. Oh, but it was only ‘ok’ because the women ended up with the men in question… Bridesmaids breaks the f***buddy curse. Nowadays, you won’t always end up with someone you’re sleeping with (shocking I know). Annie doesn’t and for once… its fine. Turns out a woman can have sex ‘like a man’ without being branded the new ‘Samantha’ from Sex and the City. The norm that the girl can only ever be a kooky or clumsy SJP, Sandra Bullock or Julia Roberts is also bulldozed. To hell with ‘kooky’, try outrageously funny. The ‘lad’ humour has left many pondering ‘is this a bunch of girls trying to be boys?’ The answer is a resounding no. It’s simply that explicit sex jokes and toilet humour have been largely inaccessible realms for the chick-flick until now. If the Sex and the City movie dipped a cautious toe into filth (with a scene in which a mortified Charlotte poops her pants) then Bridesmaids dives head first into the vulgarity pool!
Wedding dresses are soiled and penises are personified, yet miraculously the humour never feels forced. Much is owed to Wigg’s comedic diversity. Well timed one-liners, impressions, dances and skits- she can do it all. But this is far from a one woman show. A doe-eyed Becca (Ellie Kemper) suffers with a violent case of word vomit. Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey) tells grisly accounts of her sexually charged adolescent sons. And every time Megan opens her mouth something wonderfully weird falls out, like a human oyster presenting perverse pearls! As Lillian rightly deduces, they are a super special group of ‘stone cold weirdos’. Reminiscent of an episode of Family Guy, Bridesmaids takes a risqué approach to its humour, elongating eccentric jokes to almost painful extremes.
While the farce is farfetched, there is something devoutly ‘down to earth’ about Bridesmaids. There’s no pretence. Frank, unrelenting honesty gives it that certain ‘je ne sais qua’. ‘Did you let him sleep over…in your mouth?’ asks Lillian of Annie’s midnight romp with senior sex buddy. Shameless banter proves an integral part of bonding. Thank God someone noticed it’s not just guys who do it! Two of the bridal party girls (Rita and Becca), have a drunken heart to heart. With booze in the system they’re happy to swap confessions of their sexual grievances. One’s having too much; ‘I just want to watch the daily show without him entering me’ the other –not enough. There’s something satisfying about taboo sharing. That’s why arguably the best scene of Sex and the City 2 is when Miranda and Charlotte confess how they really feel about motherhood over a drink. It’s a real moment. Even the crème de la crème of chick flicks, Pretty Woman lacks in the sense that it is about as real as it is relatable! Over obsessed with phoney fairy tales, the genre has for too long been enamoured with escapism. As much as I’d love full scale revolution from prehistoric tradition, we remain on the periphery. With all that’s fresh comes some stale; a few traditional clichés remain. ‘We’re not all bad’ assures Officer Rhodes after pulling Annie over for having broken tail lights. We believe him. But it’ll take time before Annie realises she does. And so Bridesmaids cannot resist climbing aboard the chick-flick band wagon; girl meets boy, girl rebukes boy, girl wants boy. A little predictability is both inevitable and forgivable. What matters is that Bridesmaids rediscovers the value of truth. It confronts the real -albeit trivial- ways women bond. In doing so, providing the fundamental element that for too long has been missing from the chick flick- raw substance. Lillian and Annie get caught in the crossfire; the battle is between selfishness and selflessness. Lillian has found happiness, Annie is still searching. Is it the end of an era? Being left behind is a universal fear. When threatened by an outsider, friendships will either falter or thrive. Most of us will painstakingly endure, if we haven’t already, an experience like this. Maybe we haven’t had a revolution, but here’s the revelation; Bridesmaids really means something. It’s no Cinderella spectacle for perfect princesses or faked fairy tale fantasy far, far away. It’s our reality.
 

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