Two Cranky Guys on ‘Bridesmaids’—Chick Flick or Slick Shtick?
Bret Watson: Bruce, do men and women find the same things funny? I think of all the women who find the Three Stooges and Monty Python devoid of humor. Meanwhile, you can’t drag most men to a “chick flick.” Along comes Bridesmaids, which many are calling the female version of the ultimate guy comedy, The Hangover. Has Kristen Wiig made a truly co-ed comedy?
Bruce Fretts: Well, judging from the fact that my companion for the evening, Triathalon Lady, and I were both screaming with laughter throughout the movie, I’d say so. Did you feel the love, too?
Bret: I enjoyed the movie, but I laughed out loud only once. It also felt very lonnnnnng, at two hours and five minutes. But I saw it by my cranky self in a half-empty theater on a dreary Saturday afternoon. You saw it in a packed theater on a Friday night with a hot blonde—no wonder you had fun. Laughter is infectious, although hopefully you aren’t.
Bruce: You may be onto something there—about laughter, that is, not my infections. I thought Bridesmaids was the funniest movie I’ve seen since The 40-Year-Old Virgin (also a Judd Apatow production). But the first time I saw Virgin—my Virgin viewing, if you will—I saw it at an empty matinee and barely laughed out loud. Then I saw it again with my psycho girlfriend-at-the-time and her mom in a packed theater and we all laughed our heads off. And in the appropriate places.
Bret: I never laughed harder than when I saw the Barbra Streisand movie What’s Up Doc? in college in a packed rowdy auditorium. I look at it now and wonder if someone slipped me drugs back then. The only drug I was on last Saturday was Lipitor.
Bruce: I wouldn’t be surprised if my crazy ex-girlfriend slipped me a mickey before we saw Virgin. She was raised by four therapists and had access to all the best psycho-pharmacological drugs. But aside from the natural high of being with Triathalon Lady, I was stone-cold sober for Bridesmaids, and I loved it. It was a little long, as Apatow’s movies all are, but it was consistently entertaining—unlike the overrated Knocked Up or the inaccurately titled Funny People—so I didn’t mind.
Bret: Still, it was definitely a female comedy and not like The Hangover, with the exception of the hefty fireplug Melissa McCarthy and an already-legendary scene involving the effects of food poisoning.
Bruce: I beg to differ—it did feel like a female Hangover to me, with McCarthy in the Zach Galifianakis unbridled-id role. During that vomit-and-diarrhea-soaked scene, which topped The Meaning of Life and Dumb and Dumber for sheer yuks, I could barely catch my breath. Maybe Triathalon Lady’s right and I need to do more cardio.
Bret: She should give you a workout. But what’s different is guy comedies focus on men dealing with a challenge, overcoming circumstances, and relationships are secondary. In Bridesmaids, the comedy comes from relationships: Kristen Wiig’s major concern is that a new friend is horning in on her childhood friendship with bride-to-be Maya Rudolph. Plus, Wiig has to sort out how she feels about a friendly cop. It all comes down to how the women are all feeling about each other.
Bruce: You’re making it sound like a tampon commercial. This is a movie that opens with a hilarious slapstick sex scene between Wiig, who’s truly a physical-comedy genius, and an uncredited Jon Hamm, who’s even funnier here on purpose than he was unintentionally in Sucker Punch. The characters have more depth than the guys in The Hangover, and the movie doesn’t run out of gas before the end as a result. And by gas, I don’t mean fart jokes, although there are a few of those, too.
Bret: A guy comedy often climaxes with a chase. This one climaxes with a conversation. That’s the hallmark of a comedy for women. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. And I’m not surprised you loved it, because you’re in touch with your feminine side. Every night, in fact.
Bruce: And I’m not surprised you were underwhelmed by it, since you saw it alone. Couldn’t you convince your wife to go with you? Oh right, I forgot—she hates comedy. That’s why she married you.
Bret: She might be a masochist. Don’t get me wrong: I enjoyed Kristen Wiig. I enjoy her usually understated style. She had a small part in Whip It that made me take note of her and say, I hope she gets bigger parts. (Keep your lecherous remarks to yourself, Bruce. But I will note that Wiig deserves some sort of award for acting in a series of incredibly short dresses and keeping Bridesmaids‘ rating slipping from R to X.) That said, I loved Maya Rudolph’s acting in this film. Hers is by no means the funniest character in the film, but she’s just amazing. I would pay to watch her do infomercials.
Bruce: Rudolph does a great job of playing the straight woman for most of the movie, although she does get a few major laughs, including the topper to the aforementioned scatological scene. I was amazed how many funny women they cast in this movie—The Office‘s Ellie Kemper, Reno 911‘s Wendi McClendon-Covey and even Rose Byrne, whom I usually don’t find amusing, even in alleged comedies like Get Him to the Greek, are all hysterical. The guys are mostly window dressing, although McCarthy has great chemistry with real-life husband and fellow Groundlings alum Ben Falcone as her love interest. And I found out that factoid from watching The View, so yes, I am in touch with my feminine side.
Bret: It’s quite an all-star lineup. I was hoping Amy Poehler would drop in, because the best comedy on TV right now is her Parks and Recreation. And I say that knowing you cannot pooh-pooh it because your TV Guide job prohibits you from discussing TV here. Ha! Outfoxed you there, Fretts.
Bruce: I was kind of glad there weren’t the obligatory cameos from bigger female stars like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. It gets a little tiresome when guys like Steve Carell and Will Ferrell keep showing up in each other’s movies and TV shows. But I’m not allowed to discuss how much WIll Ferrell sucked on The Office. Oops!
Bret: One more thing about male vs. female comedies: Bridesmaids ends with a wedding. You can’t get more Jane Austen than that.
Bruce: Point taken. But people shouldn’t confuse this with a weak chick flick like Katherine Heigl’s 27 Dresses. There was a lot of chatter on the Internet leading up to the release, speculating that if Bridesmaids bombed, studios wouldn’t let women make any more comedies that aren’t namby-pamby fluff. The good news is it exceeded expectations and opened with $26.2 million. And Annie Mumolo (who cowrote Bridesmaids with Wiig and has a funny cameo as a nervous flyer) sold another movie with Melissa McCarthy that sounds great. Maybe McCarthy really will become the female Galifianakis.
Bret: I hope she can do better than that. I’m not a big fan of his after that Robert Downey road-trip movie.
Bruce: True, Due Date blew. And like Zach, she’s still stuck on a crappy TV comedy—Mike & Molly in her case, Bored to Death in his. But I’m not allowed to discuss TV. If I were, I might mention that Bridesmaids was brilliantly directed by Paul Feig, who cocreated Freaks and Geeks with Apatow. But I won’t.
Bret: Is the $26.2 million it made this weekend enough for it to be considered a hit? I’m guessing yes.
Bruce: Considering it only cost $32.5 million and will probably have great legs at the box office thanks to the positive reviews and word-of-mouth, yep, that’s a hit.
Bret: Well, I wish I enjoyed the movie as much as you. Maybe for the next comedy you can let Triathlon Lady take me.
Bruce: She brings new meaning to “great legs at the box office.” In other words: No.
Did Bridesmaids altar your perception of female-driven comedies? Post a comment, and Two Cranky Guys will respond?