By Melissa Silverstein | Women and Hollywood June 23, 2011 at 3:40AM
Women in Hollywood are finally feeling a little love after the unexpected success of Bridesmaids. The film has now grossed $140 million and counting and for the first time in a long time women's films are getting out of neutral and into drive. Bridesmaids stepped into an abyss and showed the women could be funny and real.
But, I would really rather not have the next conversation to be about whether the success of Bridesmaids means that other supposed "raunchy" female comedies will also be successful. If the next several female R rated films fail (which all were made before Bridesmaids was released) -- in the long gone days of one month ago before the power that be realized women existed -- does that negate the success of Bridesmaids?
And by the way when did raunchy become the female equivalent of funny? Hangover dudes just get to be funny, but women, their funniness must be defined as raunch.
Tomorrow, is the opening of Bad Teacher starring Cameron Diaz, the first studio movie starring a woman to open post Bridesmaids. It's opening on 3,000 screens.
I'm gonna go out on a limb and beg people here not to put Bad Teacher and Bridesmaids on the same plane. Sure, they both star women. And yes, they are both R rated. But have you seen the trailer for Bad Teacher? Think that movie appeals to women? That trailer did not make me want to see it, but the trailer for Bridesmaids had a positive effect. My personal opinion is that Bad Teacher is a movie targeted at guys, and Bridesmaids was a movie targeted at women (which made the studio shit in its pants since the tracking for the film was quite low until right before it opened and exploded.) Men went to see Bridesmaids after opening weekend because they heard it was really funny, and women went to see Bridesmaids cause they heard it was really funny and real.
As Karina Longworth writes about Bad Teacher:
...be careful what you wish for. Here, a "strong woman" means a lazy, lying, scheming, slutty, and obstinately materialistic one whose sole redeeming virtue is her hard body (which the camera shamelessly ogles, as if the men watching need their hand held to look at an actress' ass), who is so delusional that she thinks her ostentatious assholery is rock-star sexy, and whose delusions are essentially validated by narrative resolution.
One key difference between Bad Teacher and Bridesmaids is that Bridesmaids was written by women. Bad Teacher is all guys. I think one pre-cursor to Bridesmaids was No Strings Attached which was released in January and made $70 million domestic and $77 million overseas. That film cost $25 million to make and was written by Liz Meriwether (a Fempire member) and directed by a comic genius Ivan Reitman.
The film did well because Natalie Portman was riding the Black Swan success, but it also did well because the movie had heart and was funny without pandering. And while I think there are guys who can write great women, there are also women who write great women, and they write women differently than guys do. The Anna Faris movie -- What's Your Number -- might be a better comparison to Bridesmaids because it has a script written by women. But having not been interested in Anna Faris' previous films (some of which were written by women), I'm not going to pretend that just because a script is written by women it will be a good script that does right by women. But since the New Yorker piece on her earlier this spring, I am more interested in seeing her film.
And does it make me a non-supporter of women's films that I have no desire to see Bad Teacher? And I don't think I am the only one not interested. I haven't heard the women in Hollywood organizing parties to go and see Bad Teacher like they did for Bridesmaids because the film is just not moving women the same way that Bridesmaids did. I am so not surprised.
Swearing by 'Bridesmaids' success (LA Times)
'Bridesmaids' Effect: Why Female Comedies Are Making Comeback (Hollywood Reporter)
Cam wow! (NY Post)