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.

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Lillian gets engaged, and Annie’s life is changed forever

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.

Annie picks the best restaurants.
Annie picks the best restaurants.

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.

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“Wilson!”

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.

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“I don’t need dental work.”

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!

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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54 Comments

  1. Darcy Olivarez
    0

    This film was brilliant! Did not expect that when planning to watch it.

  2. It took me months to wtch this movie because of the poster (which I think it´s not very good),I thought it was going to be some frmale ‘Hangover’ and I can´t stand that kind of movie, you know…. the premise of doing stupid things because you were wasted and so, but it turned out to be a great movie, deeper than it seems. I think Kristin’ character defines every women of this generation. It´s actually a dry humor drama, with some toilet humor here and there.

    • I would have discovered this sooner, but everyone kept saying it was a female Hangover, as if The Hangover was some kind of great template this movie was working off of. Not so. This movie was unique – and funnier in every way!

  3. Samantha Brandbergh

    Love this movie! Kristen Wiig is one of my favorite people ever, love her humor on SNL and in this movie.

  4. Dominique Kollie

    This was a great movie. Wiig and McCarthy really broke out of the typical female roles in romcoms. This kind of felt like a female version of a Judd Apatow movie

    • samcel

      Exactly! And that’s what it was really, he produced it! I believe it was his first movie to be nominated for an Oscar!

  5. Interesting!

  6. Omg this movie is so unfunny it’s ridiculous. There is nothing at ALL funny about throwing up in each other and crapping in a sink. I tried watching it on TV a couple weeks ago and couldn’t even watch 15 mins. Gave it another try today (a diff part) and still..I don’t get it. I really don’t know how this was a hit.

    • Leila Stamps
      0

      I thought it was hilarious. I’d never seen Kristen Wiig on TV, but she is a very funny lady and gathered an equally funny group of colleagues around her. Great to see Rose Byrne cutting loose after a series of dramatic roles and Chris O’Dowd made a terrific Officer Rhodes.

  7. Finally watch it and I’m not impressed. Don’t know what all the fuss is about.

  8. KiethMclean
    0

    Very well done comedy, especially with the relationship between Annie and Rhodes. And I liked the ’16 candles’ homage near the end…

  9. This movie has a LOT of heart in it. It’s the story of the friendships in this one that makes it more than your average comedy. I also like that the love-interest is a realistic guy. Not a Disney prince who acts like a girl.

  10. McCaggers

    I was really surprised by this film. I hadn’t laughed so hard at a movie in a looooong time. Well done analysis!

  11. Matthew Sims

    It seems like I was the only one who did not like this movie, in that I could not even finish it. Probably because I rarely watch movies like this when men do them, except for maybe The Hangover films. Anyway, interesting article, regardless, and prompted me to maybe be a little less cynical or spiteful against this movie.

    • samcel

      Haha, you’re certainly not the only one who doesn’t like the movie! But I genuinely appreciate that my article might possibly make you reconsider your opinion. Thanks a lot for reading!

  12. Honestly, Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy are both super versatile actresses. What I didn’t particularly like was that after Bridesmaids, Melissa McCarthy started playing the same “type” of women in the majority of her films. Goofy. Seemingly undesirable. Somehow lesser than her prettier, perkier, more “normal” female counterparts in the films. But hey, she’s funny as hell, so that’s all okay, right? (A touch of sarcasm there). I just kind of miss Sookie from Gilmore Girls who was talented and desirable. Maybe she was also a little goofy, but that was something that was apart of her charm, not something that was working against her. Anyway. I know this comment didn’t have too much to do with Bridesmaids, but that’s just my two cents.

    • samcel

      No, I completely agree! You’re totally right, McCarthy is so talented and she could be doing way better roles than the ones she’s done recently.

  13. I liked Wilson Philips’ performance in the movie.

  14. I found most of it very uneven, but the third act got things on track. Ended on a high-note.

  15. Nicolle
    0

    I hate this kind of movies that contain great scenes and bad scenes, I mean, it’s like the movie had 2 parts. And that leaves you undecided, you can’t even make up your mind if this movie was good or bad.

    • A lot of people don’t always seem to pick up that the best humour frequently has an edge to it and contains life messages in just the same way as the best drama.

      Those that “get it” realise it is a really funny film with a lot of heart.

  16. Amanda Dominguez-Chio

    I love this movie and I certainly enjoyed reading your brilliant analysis! Well done!

  17. watching it now. thought it sucked at first until the meltdown at the shower.

  18. After reading this article my friend finally agreed to watch this moive with me. Score! This movie is an interesting mix of original and stereotypical. It could be that’s what they are going for. The subject of the film is stereotypical in that it revolves around a woman getting married. However, the style of humor is extremely progressive in my opinion and defies stereotypes concerning women and comedy. Maybe that’s the beauty of this film. They are saying, yes we’re women who are proud of doing “feminine” things, and yes we can be just as funny as men doing “manly” things. Anyway, great stuff!

    • samcel

      The fact that after reading this article your friend decided to watch the movie, is a huge win for me 😀 and I completely agree with you! It’s a cliche setting, but they made it funny and original. Thanks for reading!

  19. The movie seems a little better the more I think about it.

  20. Morgan R. Muller

    Awesome article, very well written! I freaking love Bridesmaids and watch it every time i am sad because it never fails to make me piss my pants laughing! The poop joke–LOL, gets me every time. Well done.

  21. This is such a great article. I think we can agree that it’s a blooming time for female comedy with such great talents such as Wiig and McCarthy. Outside of Bridesmaids we can look at Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as prime examples of leading ladies whom is loved by both men and women… but more importantly, Hollywood.

  22. I watched this film on Christmas Day and when it was over put it back on and watched it all over again – As if I didn’t have enough to do! Absolutely hilarious. It confirmed that women can be funny, if not funnier, when they are stuck on the toilet or getting drunk – activities usually reserved for lads films.

  23. Though I do respect your opinion, being that the film does exemplify that true comedy sees no gender, I don’t think that this film has pioneered this principle, but has instead just further supported it. Dating as far back as the work of Carol Channing and Phyllis Diller, women in show business have been disregarding the narrowly defined archetype that is thoughtlessly associated with the quintessential female lead for decades. It’s just upsetting that it seems that the idea of women being as funny as men is something that needs to be reiterated over and over again for each rising generation.

    • samcel

      No your totally right! I wasn’t precisely aiming to say this is the only film to prove women can be funny as funny as men, I just thought it was a great example of the fact. I was not necessarily trying to make a huge sexism argument, because I wouldn’t waste my time with people who ACTUALLY think women can’t do things that men can, it was really just meant to be a fun article to read. Anyway, I also respect your opinion, too! And you do make a good point. I appreciate your response!

  24. Katie Brown

    Something that I love about this movie is that it subverts the typical Rom Com ideal ending. Though there is a happy ending and the “right” guy gets the girl….this movie is above and beyond about female friendship. It is about the enduring love of best friends and the ability to be happy for each other and realize that by supporting each other (rather than being jealous of each other) you can be successful. I love that the true ending of the movie is not Wiig getting the guy, but reuniting with her best friend!

  25. This movie was so clever. Not only was it funny and innovative for “girl movies” but was successful in the box office as well. Its success and critical acclaim demonstrate that women do want more of these movies. Hopefully, Hollywood will recognize this and send more of these gems our way.

  26. Venus Echos

    Samcel, there were some surprising scenes in this film and they did set some new standards for female actors.

  27. I completely agree that the feelings in the film are awesome, and I can relate to the feeling that someone else has “stolen” your best friend. Someone great once said that even in a comedy, you have to keep the audience interested in the dramatic parts of the story, like emotions. Personally, I don’t really like poop jokes or raunchy jokes in general, but I still find the film funny and great. I certainly want to see more from the actors involved, which makes me excited for the “Ghostbusters” remake!

  28. I have seen this movie and after reading this article, it has definitely shed a light that I hadn’t noticed about the movie. There definitely needs to be more movies like this because we have needs too, and society needs to know about it. Women are used to being portrayed as something vulgar whenever sex is mentioned and that needs to change.

  29. Chelsea Weaver

    I love Bridesmaids so much and I really love your article. I was thinking about what makes a movie like this different from the others is that these (like Bridesmaids) are more often than not written by women. I think there is probably a more real portrayal of women when women are talking about women. That probably goes the same for men too. I hope they write more movies. I’m very excited for Poehler/Fey “Sisters” movie at the end of the year.

  30. I love this movie, and I think you do a great job of describing how this movie is different and how it allows women to take on the roles that men typically have. However, I want to know how it sets a new standard. What has changed for women? How has this movie influenced other movies? This movie showed that women can and should take on the funny roles, but how does it set a standard?

    • samcel

      I think it sets a standard because after this movie, why the heck would we want to go back to watching romantic comedies like “Bride Wars?” or “Failure to Launch”? Those movies are not funny in the slightest and gives a stereotype about girly romcoms. For me, now that I’ve seen a romantic comedy like Bridesmaids, I want every women-filled comedy to be just as witty and clever.

  31. Great funny movie! It proves that women can be just as funny if not funnier than men! Kristen Wiig is hilarious! A lot of people compare it to be the female equivalent to “The Hangover”, but I think “Bridesmaids” is much funnier!

  32. Bridesmaids is as vulgar and hilarious as Superbad was when I first saw it. The scene where they try on the dresses will always be my favorite, and even though its so gross I can’t help but laugh. I also love how the characters are all different, Rita especially is one of my favorites, because she is not the typical mother you would see in a movie. She’s always telling her horrors of being a mother, and her story about her son asking to order pizza is maybe the best line in the movie.

    Paul Feig and Judd Apatow allowed these leading ladies to be just as crude and slapstick as the usuals they work with. They made watching romantic comedies fun again, and every time they have a movie with a female lead role, I know it’s going to be something different.

  33. Sierra Throop

    I agree with what you said in the second-to-last paragraph. I’ve noticed that slapstick is a form of comedy traditionally performed by men but Bridesmaids is an example of slapstick performed by women and it’s pretty hilarious and was quite popular when it came out. Great analysis, loved the article!

  34. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie because it once again proved that women can be funny! Women do not have to play the role of the ditzy, clumsy character to get a laugh, but she can be an intelligent woman who is simply trying to get her life back together. It was extremely relatable and my favorite part was when she was arguing with the teenage girl at the jewelry store!

  35. There should be more movies like this, women comedians are amazing, this movie was so awesome two thumbs up for the article!

  36. Diego Santoyo
    DSantoyo
    0

    This movie is so hilarious! Great comedy in it.

  37. I found this movie entertaining, but also a bit over-rated. The script could have been a bit stronger I feel. The ‘replacement best-friend’ character was very bizarre and two dimensional. I wish they had made her into a real person.

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