Bridesmaids, which opened in theaters May 13, has already made more than $20 million by attempting to prove women can be as funny as the men traditionally portrayed in a Judd Apatow film. However, Bridesmaids has an undiagnosed personality disorder that no one is talking about. By pushing women into the type of low-level, sophomoric humor that has traditionally been reserved for men, while still dressing them up in wedding gowns and high heels, Bridesmaids tries to walk down both sides of the aisle by appealing to the largely male following Apatow has built, while attempting to capture a new audience of women looking for a love story. But the film satisfies neither crowd; it ultimately dive bombs into romantic comedy territory, leaving only the faint, depressing reality that is Annie’s (played by SNL’s Kristen Wiig) single life.
Women shouldn’t need to act like men to be funny.
In an early scene, the bride and bridesmaids eat at a hole-in-the-wall ethnic restaurant, resulting in violent vomiting and (there’s not other word for this) shitting in a classy boutique while wearing designer wedding clothes. The scene goes far beyond Steve Carell’s back waxing in 40-Year-Old Virgin or Michael Cera’s vomiting in Superbad. Some critics have referred to Bridesmaids as a “triumph for vomit and feminism.” But as the Bridesmaids actresses fulfill the masculine obsession with bodily fluids, the true humorous potential of women is lost when they behave like men.
Bridesmaids plays on just as many gender stereotypes as Bride Wars.
Despite the projectile vomit, raunchy language, and overweight, butch bridesmaid Megan—who suggests a Fight Club-themed bridal shower—Bridesmaids is still a wedding flick. The main events of the film are an aborted bachelorette trip, ostentatious bridal shower, and, of course, the big wedding itself. And the girls for the most part are clad in Juicy Couture sweat suits, stilettos and enormous diamond engagement rings. Even down-to-earth Annie is a cupcake-baker, and one scene of the film is devoted to her meticulous decoration of a single cupcake to the tune of Fiona Apple. Similarly, the main themes of the film satisfy gender stereotypes. Wiig was inspired by the troubling reality of what happens when your best friend gets married. The result is an overdose of female jealousy, promiscuous sex, uncontrollable emotion, and expensive champagne. In short, your everyday female stereotypes rolled up into a two-hour crawl to “I do.”
Isolating women in film is not ending gender biases, it’s furthering them.
A true hero of female comedy, Tina Fey, made tremendous advances in breaking down the stereotype that women just aren’t as funny. Men and women love her sitcom 30 Rock, which features herself and Jane Krakowski as the two leads. But the humor in 30 Rock isn’t limited to the women; the humorous dynamic between men and women is a key part of the show. Bridesmaids should have followed Fey’s example and included some funny male parts. The Hangover would have suffered without Heather Graham, and 40-Year-Old Virgin without Catherine Keener. Some more men in Bridesmaids wouldn’t have hurt.
Don’t get me wrong, there were laugh-out-loud funny moments in Bridesmaids — this was no Due Date. The funniest scene was when nervous flyer Annie overdoes it on anxiety meds and Scotch on the plane ride to Vegas, culminating in an unexpected landing in Wyoming and a long bus ride back home. But most of the comedy resulted from Wiig herself, not a well-executed plot. Funny moments, such as the disturbing brother-sister pair that Annie lived with, felt disconnected and only added unnecessary fuel to the already-established woes of the single girl. By the end of the film, it was just another romantic comedy about how hard it is to find your soul mate as your friends settle down around you one by one. Add to that multiple job losses, moving back in with mom, and getting walked all over by the man you like, and the audience of Bridesmaids is more likely to cry than laugh. The film ended, as a predictable rom-com would, with an over-the-top wedding and Annie’s happily ever after with the male lead. True moments of female humor were buried in wedding cliché and unnecessary disgust (think fat woman shitting in the sink). Apatow and the rest of the Bridesmaids team should have made a bigger effort to highlight real female humor instead of making the women act like men in designer dresses while eating cupcakes.