Wed by Divisive Money Woes

The underlying issues of class differences and money worries propel the storylines in “Jumping the Broom” and “Bridesmaids”

Tis the season for Hollywood to jump-start the avalanche of June weddings being held in America. Three new films — “Something Borrowed,”“Bridesmaids,” and “Jumping the Broom” — have opened up depicting wedding themes. The latter two are billed as romantic comedies and they certainly deliver on the laughs.

Yet despite all the jokes, it is the underlying common issues of class differences and money worries that push the storylines. It’s as if the screenwriters decided to incorporate America’s economic woes in today’s wedding scripts.

“Jumping the Broom”is a romantic comedy about an African-American wedding held on Martha’s Vineyard that brings together two potentially incompatible families. Of course no wedding goes off without mothers, so the opening weekend was cleverly scheduled to coincide with Mother’s Day weekend.  It did not hurt that the world was still recovering from the wedding fever over the British royal wedding.

The monetary tension in “Jumping the Broom” is established early as the groom Jason Taylor (Laz Alonso) is reluctant to introduce his post office worker mother to the wealthy parents of his fiancée, Sabrina Watson (Paula Patton). His mother Pam (Loretta Devine) is rightly angry that her future daughter-in-law never met her before this explosive wedding weekend. But Jason kept from his widowed mother a New York scheduled dinner at 21 with his future in laws. Once on the island his mother feels his disrespect and embarrasses him by acting up at the rehearsal dinner and exposing the bride’s family secret. Successful in his field, Jason is also feuding with his cousin who chides him from becoming too bourgeois.

While the mother of the groom is feeling ignored and snubbed, the irony is that it is the bride’s rich parents who are undergoing financial difficulties.  Father of the bride, Mr. Watson (Brian Stokes Mitchell) is keeping their economic woes from his snobby wife Claudine (Angela Bassett) who came from wealth and resorts to speaking French when she wants to keep secrets.  Once he finally confesses their woes, even Watson claims the wedding is beyond their means and they will have to sell their estate.  Somehow his wife takes the news with a grain of salt.  

Of course despite all the issues the wedding goes on. The mothers prevail. The working class mother, whose insistence of keeping the African-American tradition of jumping the broom, wins out.  And neat as could be, it turns out that the bride’s mother has been keeping a stash of money for a rainy day.  So although class portrayals and money worries create the tension, Hollywood saves the threat of foreclosure at the end of the day.

“Bridesmaids,” billed as the female “Hangover,” also has economic woes as a major issue along with the laughs and the raunchiness. Annie (Kristen Wiig) is the best friend and invited maid of honor for her childhood friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph). But Annie has hit rock bottom with a failed cake shop business and has to move in with her mother. Plus she cannot keep up with the Jones — a competing bridesmaid Helen Harris III (Rose Byrne) whose wealth and costly schemes, liking taking the bride to Paris for her wedding dress, make Annie feel unworthy. Of course anyone with numbers behind their name is going to be stiff competition for the best friend. Throw in the bride’s father complaining that he cannot afford everything that is being planned.

Annie’s inability to compete is keenly exposed in the movie’s funniest scenes as the bridesmaids fly off to a bachelorette party in Vegas. But the down and out best friend is flying coach while the other bridesmaids are going first class. Goodie, goodie Helen tried to offer to buy the more expensive ticket, but Annie was too proud.

In a sequence that will go down as a comic classic Annie does all she can to invade the curtained area of first class. Demonstrating what all us peons have so wanted to do to whenever we are in uncomfortable coach, Annie tries to circumvent the stewards and stewardesses to visit the female wedding party in first class. Drunken Annie keeps on trying to sit up in first class, but fails. Instead she gets all the bridesmaids kicked off the plane, resorting to cheap bus transportation. Annie continues her meltdown by ruining the bridal shower, and being declared persona non grata by the bride.

In typical Hollywood fashion the long-term best friend is called upon to save the day. Harris comes to Annie to find the disappearing bride and bring her to the altar. Clearly having wealth does not speak volumes to get the job done. Only the friend who knows Lillian the longest can persuade the bride out of her funk. 

Hollywood sets up a class dichotomy for laughs, and teaches that the wealthy are neither the happiest nor the wisest. And surely in the sequel “Bridesmaids II,” Annie will have found a job and happiness.