How Bridesmaids Set the New Standard for Women in Comedy
Bridesmaids is not your typical rom-com. It does have a girl who doesn’t know what to do with her life, it has a group of girls getting ready for their friend’s wedding, a mean girl, a mean guy, a nice guy, and a happy ending. Though it all seems pretty cliché, Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo were able to write characters so funny, relatable, and likeable that the whole movie is really unlike any other before it. There are plenty of movies with funny and likeable characters, but what stands out about Bridesmaids is that it proves how funny women can be.
One of the main things that make this movie great is that it makes jokes that usually male comedians make and women stay away from. Sexual jokes are a big one (pun may or may not be intended). Plenty of women are in movies where sexual jokes are made, but it is safe to say that the jokes themselves are made by men. For example, Superbad, The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Borat, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Role Models, and the list goes on. All of these movies are fantastic but they were funny because of the men involved, not the women. One of the funniest parts of the movie is right in the beginning when Annie (Kristen Wiig) impersonates a penis by putting her hands on her hips and closing one eye. Another is when Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey) tells Becca (Ellie Kemper) what it is like to be married for so long. Becca asks “So what do you do while you’re having sex?” And Rita replies: “Thinking about other things and wishing it would stop? You know, sometimes I wanna watch The Daily Show without him entering me.” It is jokes like these that prove that women can break through sexual taboos and make it hilarious, especially when in reference to lady-parts. Male genitalia jokes are constantly thrown around, but mention “entering” a women and it somehow gets weird. The exception is here. There is no way that you cannot laugh at the image Rita gives. This scene also touches on the subject of women wanting sex as much as men, and sometimes even more: “Kevin can only have sex in bed, in the dark, under the covers, only after we’ve showered separately. And sometimes, by the time we’re finished cleaning ourselves, he’s too tired. I’m…and then I pretend I’m tired, but I’m not tired. I’m not tired! I’m not tired!” This quote is particularly clever because it is open about women’s needs in a real way. There are jokes about men getting upset when their partner is too tired to have sex, but women definitely feel that, too! In some movies, such as Superbad and The 40 Year-Old Virgin, it feels as though men are the only ones to want sex. Or at the very least, it feels as though they are the only ones that talk about it. Bridesmaids is refreshing in that it has “sex talk” from women’s point of view.
Another kind of joke that is normally made by men is the “poop joke.” Society seems to want us to believe that women do not poop, pee, fart, have hair below the eyebrows, and other ludicrous things like that. In Grown Ups 2 there as the “burp-snart,” in White Chicks there was the quiche incident, the bathroom scene in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, and you can probably name a million more. These are all jokes by guys. In Bridesmaids, possibly the most known scene is when the whole bridal party gets food poisoning while trying on dresses. Megan (Melissa McCarthy), has diarrhea in the sink, Rita throws up in the toilet, Becca throws up on Rita’s head, and Lillian (Maya Rudolph), the bride, defecates herself in the middle of the street as she runs for a toilet. The only thing worse, and funnier, than getting diarrhea in public is getting diarrhea while trying on thousand-dollar dresses for a wedding. Women are human beings just like men, and for the most part have the same bodily functions. Many people consider these kind of jokes immature and not very funny, and that is sometimes true. However, in this case it just shows how human these characters really are as well as proving that these actors were able to make the old and childish poop joke new. This scene does not have poop jokes for the sake of poop jokes. It is very funny, but its purpose is to make these characters more real to us.
The script as a whole is smart. Wiig and Mumolo brought wit to what could have easily been a wedding movie like any other. Not only did they push limits for women in comedy in the film, but the story was deeper than a Romantic Comedy about a girl’s best friend getting married. Annie is a woman in her 30s that feels like she has nothing going for her, and that her life is just spiraling downward. Men and women alike can relate to feeling like their friends are moving forward with their lives while they are stagnant. Even with this somewhat serious tone, both Wiig’s acting and writing make light of Annie’s depressing situation. The scene where Annie argues with a young teenage girl about how friends are never really there forever, is absolutely priceless. “What, do you have four boyfriends?” “Exactly.” “Yeah, well, have fun having a baby at your prom.” And, of course, you cannot leave out Annie’s mental breakdown at the wedding shower. It is both a great example of funny dialogue and physical comedy when Annie screams “What woman gives another woman a trip to Paris?! Am I right?! Lesbian!” and then stabs a miniature Eiffel Tower. This scene brings together everything this is great about the whole film: it’s hilarious because it is based on real feelings. You might throw a fit too if another bridesmaid took credit for a theme you came up with after she said she didn’t like it (although, your fit would not be as awesome as Kristen Wiig’s). Even deeper than that, it is hard to think that your friends may leave you behind and your life is going nowhere.
The script itself is a massive part of why this movie is so funny, but the women themselves are what bring it to life. They are also the reason you laugh so hard. The whole film was cast perfectly; everyone is funny. In particular though, Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy are the ones who give you stitches. A personal favorite scene in this movie is when they are on the airplane to Las Vegas. Annie is drugged up and sees “a colonial woman churning butter.” Meanwhile, Megan meets the love of her life and is convinced he is secretly an air marshal. She whispers to him with intense desire: “I’ll take the first watch.” McCarthy portrayed this character perfectly. From when you first meet her and she tells the irrelevant but hilarious story of how a dolphin saved her life, to when she gives Annie the verbal butt-kicking she needs. McCarthy delivered every line perfectly, and her character was someone you felt like you knew. Wiig has some of the funniest facial expressions, voices, and body language you have ever seen. Another perfect example of her physical comedy, right before the penis impersonation, is when she mimics with her hand what it is like when guys put their penis in your face, asking for oral sex. It is something that should be difficult for most comedians simulate, but when Kristen Wiig does it you know exactly what she is doing and you are dying with laughter. Slapstick comedy is another type of humor mostly associated with men (Adam Sandler and Jim Carrey are certainly known for their slapstick), but Wiig has it down and you cannot get enough of it.
There are so many talented comedic female actors: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Rebel Wilson, Rose Byrne, and Elizabeth Banks just to name but a few. Tina Fey gave us Mean Girls, so she deserves infinite comedy credit for that. Elizabeth Banks was ridiculously funny even in her tiny role in The 40-year-old Virgin as Beth who fell for Andy’s just-ask-questions scheme. However, Bridesmaids set a new standard for women who make us laugh. It shows us women can really be funny when they go to those awkward places like having diarrhea and talking about sex with a friend. This movie was funny because these characters were real people like the rest of us. The characters were not just dumb bimbos to be laughed at, they were characters to laugh with. So, here is to hoping there will be another Bridesmaids in the very near future, and plenty more women making us laugh!
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