I have to recuse myself from posting an actual review of one of the best-reviewed movies of 2011, because as a story analyst at Universal, I spent over three years working on Bridesmaids, giving notes on some eleven drafts of the project. So I can't really talk the movie up and say "go see it!" the way so many people on the web have been doing.
Ironically, even if I wanted to shill for Bridesmaids, I wouldn't need to: one day into its opening weekend, the movie has far surpassed even the studio's expectations, being a certified hit on its way to becoming a cultural phenomenon.
This is a good thing.
Regardless of the film's perceived merits (and here's the juncture where I must forcibly seal my lips, since as an assistant mechanic who worked on the engine of this vehicle, I have a particularly skewed view of its strengths and weaknesses), the fact of Bridemaids finding an audience is extremely heartening. Readers of this blog, former students, friends whose ears have been oft talked-off on the subject, et al, already know that I've been passionately advocating stronger female roles in movies for over a decade, as a recent post bears out.
So let me just say this about that, without going into any critical detail on the movie as a movie. Here is a project written by two female first-time screenwriters (Kristen Wiig & Annie Mumulo), with a female TV comedy star in her first leading role (Wiig) supported by a cast of relatively unknown female performers, that sends up a genre generally beloved by the mythical female audience (i.e. chick flicks about weddings).
Yes, there are men involved (director Paul Feig and 800 lb. gorilla producer Judd Apatow, along with capable co-stars Jon Hamm and Chris O'Dowd). But this movie, from its estrogen-powered core to its bright pink poster typeface, is what has been considered toxic to the box office for years and years. In conventional industry terms, it's the sort of Hollywood nightmare project - "character-driven," no less - that sends executives running from a pitch meeting, babbling excuses as they duck and cover.
So it's with no small pleasure that I say to my colleagues, you men (and women) in an industry long rampant with sexism and misogyny who have been refusing to believe that women can be funny - and make money being funny - with all due respect...? Go fuck yourselves.
What my colleagues will do in actuality, if they follow form (i.e. follow the money) is begin to buy and greenlight projects with funny women in them. And I believe the American public (which oddly enough seems to consist, in part, of... women?!) will be, like, okay with that, as this weekend's sight-unseen groundswell of support for Bridesmaids indicates.
I'll just note two unbiased things about Bridesmaids before the inevitable backlash sets in: One, whether you end up loving or hating it, the movie has undeniable LOL laughs in it, and two, bridesmaid Melissa McCarthy has just leapt past Phase 1 of the 4 Phases of Being an Actor (1: Who's Melissa McCarthy?) to Phase 2: Get me Melissa McCarthy! as this item from Nikki Finke demonstrates. Phase 3 (Get me a young Melissa McCarthy!) and Phase 4 (Who's Melissa McCarthy?) will surely follow, but as I always say, "Give me these problems."
Bridesmaids: At your local multiplex. You might consider getting in the loop.