I’m not going to claim that I am the funniest person alive, but I am pretty sure that I have at least an average to above-average sense of humor. This has been somewhat called into question because I recently expressed my dissatisfaction with the movie Bridesmaids to the world of Facebook and Twitter. Various of my friends then proceeded to express their dissatisfaction with me, such that I am now going to defend my position in my humble little corner of the Internet.
First off, I will state for the record that I was looking forward to the movie. I had heard from pretty much everyone that the movie was hilarious. Not only was it hilarious but it was also somewhat vulgar, which is a double win in my book. It didn’t matter to me that this was going to be a movie about women “behaving badly” as opposed to the typical men “behaving badly” raunchy comedy. I remember reading an article about this movie in Time or Newsweek a few months ago which explored some of the general reluctance of audiences and studio executives to see the roles reversed like this in comedies and feeling even better about the movie because it was an underdog of sorts. I came to this viewing wanting to like Bridesmaids.
Before we go any further, I should probably give proof that I have a sense of humor by listing my favorite comedies of the past. Reviewing them in my head, I feel that the following list also supports the notion that I was predisposed to liking this movie, but the movie itself fell short. So in no particular order, my 10 favorite comedy movies of all time.
Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail, Down Periscope, Blazing Saddles, Caddyshack, Happy Gilmore, History of the World Part 1, Fletch, Old School, Anchorman,
Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood (just wanted to see if you were still paying attention), PCU
If any of these movies, shows up on TV, I am guaranteed to flip to that channel and watch. I am sure people could nitpick this list, but overall I would find this to be a non-controversial list. What these movies have in common is varying degrees of off-color jokes, ridiculous to ludicrous situations and being highly quotable. This is what I was expecting to get. Unfortunately, I did not.
My first quibble with Bridesmaids was by no means a deal-breaker. This is just a preference thing and if this was the only problem, I could have lived with it. The dress-fitting scene went a bit too far. I don’t mind gross humor or jokes involving bodily fluids, but you’ve got to know where the line is (various Austin Powers potty jokes that show little to no actual body fluids). Seeing people actually throw up on each other was past the line. (In the end, it is not this movie’s fault. Personally, I blame Rob Reiner and Stephen King for scarring me with Stand By Me‘s “barf-o-rama“.) If this scene would have maxed out at Melissa McCarthy’s character commandeering the sink for decidedly non-sink purposes, I would have thoroughly enjoyed it.
Speaking of Megan, let’s digress and talk about what I DID like about the movie. Pretty much everything with Melissa McCarthy’s character in it. I think a whole movie about Megan would be overkill, but this movie definitely could have used more of her and her humor. The whole discussion with “Is he or is he not an Air Marshal” guy had me rolling, peaking with her flying tackle of the Kristen Wiig’s Annie to close the scene. Little did I know that this scene also was the peak of my enjoyment of the movie. The other two bridesmaids (the “naive, newly married girl” and the “hardened, long-time married woman”) were also greatly under-utilized. Sure, they are obvious, stereotype characters, but there was more comedy to be mined from them. They had a lot of potential. But when you never hear from them again after they share a passionate kiss because they think the plane is in peril, I felt that they were only there to set up one gag and a bit of a waste. If that is all you were going for, you could have easily cut the number of bridesmaids by one and given each of them more time throughout the movie.
About halfway through the movie, I was trying to figure out why I not enjoying the movie. At the time, the best that I could come up with was that the movie didn’t “feel right”. After a few more minutes, I finally was able to put my finger on it. This movie didn’t feel like a comedy. I figured this out as I realized that there was no music in the background for a lot of the movie. When transitioning between scenes, especially when there is no dialogue, comedies invariably have music to keep the tempo and the emotion up. This movie had none of that. The more I focused on this, the more I felt like I was watching a drama or at least a dramedy like Garden State, The Good Girl or Napolean Dynamite. This starkness was really off-putting to me and didn’t really set the stage for laughs.
Compound this with the fact that the main character was pathetic. Like, stupendously pathetic. When done right, a bumbling, misguided fool trying to reign in the chaos of his/her life can be used for comic gold. The key is, you have to like the character and bee rooting for them to eventually succeed. In Bridesmaids, I quickly started rooting against Kristen Wiig’s protagonist. Sure, she had hit a rough patch in her life which was exacerbated by the possibility of losing her best friend to a whole new life. But she made some really poor choices, even by movie standards. You have identified one of the characters as horrible and conniving, and yet you readily accept unidentified pills from her? You get what you deserve.
In my mind, the death knell for Bridesmaids started to ring after 2 scenes with Kristen Wiig. I don’t watch a lot of Saturday Night Live anymore so I had forgotten what her go-to comedy move is. But after about 20 minutes it all came roaring back. She loves to do this passive-aggressive, arguing under your breath thing. It is somewhat funny once with a lot of diminishing returns when this gag gets trotted out about 10 more times. All of a sudden, I started equating her with the ‘Delicious Dish’ radio show skit from SNL where the characters are constantly talking in hushed tones (which I also don’t find funny at all).
In addition, even the scenes that are somewhat funny (Kristen Wiig destroying the wedding shower treats, Kristen Wiig trying to get her cop friend’s attention when Maya Rudolph’s character goes missing) end up with SNL disease /Family Guy Disease. They take a nice premise and a decent joke and the drag the hell out of it for an extra 2 minutes, quickly transitioning the scene from Funnyville to Annoying Junction.
In the end, the biggest problem with this movie is that I forgot that I don’t find Maya Rudolph nor Kristen Wiig funny at all. I am sure that they are fine comediennes, considering they have had rather long careers in the world of comedy. They just aren’t my cup of tea. For some reason, I thought that the movie would be different because everyone liked it and because a lot of other people were involved. To some degree, I am sure that there was no way that the movie would ever live up to the expectations that I had for it. But in the end, I am not even sure it lived up to the 5 bucks I spent on it. At least I didn’t spring for the extra dollar to see it in HD. No one wants a barf-o-rama in HD.