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Save the Future for Women in Comedy - See Bridesmaids

by Melissa Silverstein
May 13, 2011 4:00 AM
10 Comments
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How did we get to a place in 2011 where the female Hollywood comedian is on the endangered species list? My god we have three female Supreme Court justices, we've had three female secretaries of state, we have several just as crazy as the dudes women in the running for the Republican nomination for the presidency, YET for some reason funny women in Hollywood films are on a missing poster.

Now we know this was not always the situation and now is not the time to analyze how we got here (I hope to devote a chapter to it in the book I continue to ponder and write in fits and starts), but here we are.

Here is a place where going to a movie has become a political act for women. I feel, as Rebecca Traister wrote on Salon yesterday, that going to see Bridesmaids has taken on special significance for us women especially within the women's community in Hollywood. These women know what's at stake...and it's not just their own personal livelihoods. It's their future and our future because women in Hollywood are not valued as much as the men. Now we may be focused comedy right now, but there are numerous conversations we can have about the problem Hollywood has with women (check out the statistics) even as women continue to make inroads in all areas.

It's fucked up that one FUNNY film has been put in this place where it could potentially lead women out of the desert into the promised land. If I was Paul Feig and Judd Apatow I would be shitting bricks, which I know Feig has been because in interviews he has been doing this week he talks about this responsibility.

Here's what Feig said to Movieline:

I feel there’s a lot riding on this for very funny women in comedy...If it doesn’t do well or doesn’t do box office the way people want it to then it’s very easy for them to go, Oh well — see, you can’t have women carrying movies!

I am glad that the guys are getting in on this because I am sick and tired of women being responsible for the supposed lack of the female audience -- remember women buy half the movie tickets. But the perception is still that women don't go to the movies (A LIE) so this weekend we have the opportunity to show them (the dudes in the business) that women will heed the clarion call and go see a flick when it is something they want to see and it has good word of mouth.

And from what I can see on twitter, women will be going to see this movie in droves.

Now mind you all the advertising has been targeted at men. It's as if the people who made the advertising are thinking that they already have the women so their objective is the dudes. I've seen the movie and it is by no means "The Hangover for women." I understand why the term caught on because it's so much easier to compare women to men than it is to say that this is a unique film about a woman struggling to figure out what to do with her life after she loses her business and her best friend gets engaged. I imagine that the studio doesn't really want to let on that this is actually quite an emotional movie that has a ton of funny pee in your pants moments. Because we women, we like our comedy mixed in with emotions, but guys, they like the fart jokes and the poop jokes and this movie, unlike many others, delivers on both fronts.

Bridesmaids is not "The Hangover for women" because the movie is not about a bachelor party and SPOILER they never make it to Vegas. But if it makes people comfortable to go and see it believing that it is "The Hangover for women," I can live with that. If believing that it's "The Hangover for women" neutralizes the kryptonite in the doorways of the theatre doors and allows men to feel comfortable seeing a movie about women, I can live with that.

I am angry that we live in a world where women have to be validated as being funny if the guys like them. I am angry that we have come to a point where women in Hollywood are sending emails out like it is a political campaign to encourage people to see this film because things have become this desperate.

Kristen Wiig is beyond fantastic as Annie a woman approaching 40 who is having a very bad patch. She's got a hot asshole played by Jon Hamm as her fuck buddy, a horrible living situation and no decent job prospects on the horizon. She is totally screwed. And then her best friend from forever gets engaged and she just unravels under the maid of honor pressure. If anything, this film is a cautionary tale on friendship with a lot of class and money issues thrown in. Annie's broke, yet the wedding machine moves forward full tilt and you have to get on the train (because it is your best friend's wedding.) She has to buy things and pay for things that she literally cannot afford, and it's not like she can borrow any money because her business just went bankrupt. All the stuff about expectations and the recession and the role of weddings in our culture comes wrapped up in a very funny and realistic bow by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo.

I don't really need to give you more about this movie because everyone has written about it and the reviews are stellar. It's at 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. Those are some pretty stellar numbers. And I've read reviews from male writers all week extolling the virtues of this film. That's usually not the case with women's films.

This film does have a huge responsibility because it has cross-over potential. Most films about women don't get the guys and this one will because it comes across as a laugh riot which makes it safe for them. Women are going to see this movie because we will tell each other that it is more than fart and poop jokes. They might get a lot of dudes the first weekend, but the women (especially the older ones) will come once they hear from their friends that it is not just "the hangover for women," that it is a really funny movie about a woman who is at a crossroads in her life.

So do me and all the women toiling in Hollywood a favor, go and see Bridesmaids this weekend. Use the comments section on this post to tell the people in Hollywood that we are here, that we are a market and that we refuse for this movie to be seen as another fluke. We demand that this movie be the beginning of a beautiful new trend.

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10 Comments

  • Maureen | June 4, 2011 7:21 AMReply

    I reluctantly went to see Bridesmaids -- a friend wanted to see it.
    I found myself laughing out loud through most of the film. Very entertaining. Well written, and Weig is hysterical. And who doesn't like Rudolph? (See her in Away We Go if you haven't - a sweet little film that was nominated for a handful of indie awards.)

  • Therese Shechter | May 16, 2011 4:36 AMReply

    Very funny. Very sweet. Very entertaining. Plus it passes the Bechdel test with flying colors. A lot of the credit has to go to the hilarious and soulful Wiig, who really carries this movie on her capable shoulders.

  • Kathleen | May 16, 2011 1:25 AMReply

    I loved this movie. It was really funny. I did notice that the cast was mostly one race - Caucasian, and thought it could have been more diverse, but then I realized that it is set in the mid-west, therefore it's just reflecting the demographic of that area.

  • DeeCee | May 15, 2011 7:16 AMReply

    Meh. I'm with Anonymous and Tabula Rosa. I'm not feeling the sisterhood here. Couldn't a little MORE racial variety been shown in the casting (my girl Margaret Cho, anyone?)? And no, the odd tomboyish character (talk about class here) doesn't offset it. I'll wait for it on Netflix.

  • tabula rasa | May 15, 2011 1:00 AMReply

    Great.
    Now imagine if you're a female AND a person of color. Good luck seeing yourself on a screen period.

  • Shazza | May 14, 2011 12:05 PMReply

    That's interesting. Tyler Perry does really well but I don't see Hollywood churning out comedies featuring African Americans. I don't plan on seeing this, I'm with Anonymous.

  • Barbara Glickstein | May 14, 2011 10:43 AMReply

    Saw it yesterday afternoon with my college-age daughter and we laughed out loud through the entire film. Just the right mix of pathos and funny.
    Great movie.

  • Judy | May 14, 2011 6:27 AMReply

    Great review. And I really want to see this now. Don't get me started about this issue. I'm in the midst of producing a film, and it's no different with indies...my solution--European co-production.

  • Anonymous | May 13, 2011 12:30 PMReply

    Funny that it ends up being about a white woman and her issues navigating the world and that the black/mixed bride is kinda just a facilitating prop. Imagine a wedding movie where the bride isn't the main focus. Interesting.

  • Barbara Masry | May 13, 2011 5:17 AMReply

    I intend to email all my friends and post on Facebook the need to support BRIDESMAIDS.

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