“Bridesmaids” stormed out the gates on opening weekend.
A sequel is already in the works. Yet the fashionable thing to do on the internet is to downplay the effect this film will have on the entertainment landscape. That’s the safe thing to do. Lower expectations. Bet on mediocrity.
Well nuts to that. What’s the use of a blog if you don’t stick your neck out? “Bridesmaids” is a great movie. It deserves every bit of praise it’s been getting and it will change Hollywood. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing remains to be seen.
To understand why this movie is going to change comedy you have to get into what makes it such an effective comedy.
I laughed hard during “Bridesmaids.” There were several sequences where my face hurt from simultaneously laughing and grimacing.
One of those scenes is the now infamous dress-fitting gag where Kristen Wiig and her co-stars succumb to a bout of food poisoning.
What follows is an orgy of gas, vomit, and explosive bowel movements that belongs in the Gross-Out Joke Hall of Fame.
We’ve seen jokes like that before. The Farrelly Brothers made it their calling card a decade ago. But this time it’s different. The characters are in designer gowns in an ultra-posh boutique that has a call box out front.
This is a place where you have to book in advance for a dress fitting. A place like this has a bathroom that’s as dainty as a Victorian tea set. This is in no way the place to have an attack of the runs. And that’s why it’s so funny.
This is also the reason why “Bridesmaids” will change comedy.
This joke would not be half as funny with guys. For one dudes probably wouldn’t be in a shop like that in the first place. Secondly, even with fanciest tuxedo poses no real problem to dropping your trousers in the event of an emergency.
These ladies are wrapped in gowns made of the finest textiles. It’s a little bit harder to maneuver when it comes to fecal urgency. That will be the main reason “Bridesmaids” spawns a host of imitators. Because they offer a new spin on gross-out humor.
But “Bridesmaids” is far more than just diarrhea in designer gowns.
It’s true we often put women on pedestals, especially when it comes to movies, but in this case that works in the joke’s favor.
With male characters, especially in comedies, it’s like there are no rules of decorum. A male character can act as gross as he likes and it’s no longer that shocking. And because it’s no longer that shocking, it’s not as funny any more. It’s like Krusty the Clown from "The Simpsons" once said, “The pie in the face is only funny if the sap’s got dignity.”
And that’s what “Bridesmaids” does so well. It understands that these characters do have dignity and that society does place -- sometimes unreasonable -- demands on how women should behave.
Kristen Wiig’s character Annie knows she’s behaving badly. Deep down, she knows she’s looking like a fool. But she can’t help herself. That makes for an excellent character and a very good script, not just a collection of gross-out gags
But in the end, the real reason you’re going to see a lot of imitators to “Bridesmaids” is because it’s easy.
You don’t have to do as much. Comedies are gold to Hollywood. They cost little to make and can gross several times their budget.
But it’s getting harder.
Gross-out comedies with male leads have pretty much done it all.
And now you have to put in a lot of work to make a male-dominated gross-out comedy unique without going into “Serbian Film” territory.
You don’t have to put in as much thought to make a female gross-out comedy. You can just recycle previous gags with a female cast to give those jokes a fresh twist. And there’s nothing Hollywood likes better than recycling.
Will these new female gross-outs be as good as “Bridesmaids?” Now here’s where I’ll bet on mediocrity.