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Standing up in the church to say "I object to this union!" - The Fucking Bluebird of Goddamn Happiness [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Zoethe

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Standing up in the church to say "I object to this union!" [May. 22nd, 2011|01:35 pm]
Zoethe
The tag line for Bridesmaids should be "The Only People We Hate More Than Ourselves is Each Other."

Ferrett and I saw this movie on Friday, and he's already reviewed it. I've been chewing on my severe discomfort with it for a couple days, now, because I had to decide if my problem with it was just me. After all, while I sat through the infamous bathroom scene in stony, squicked silence, the audience surrounding me roared with laughter. And the reviews are mostly positive. So was I being too harsh?

But the things that bugged me about this movie continue to bug me about this movie, and hell, it's my journal, right?

My problem with Bridesmaids is that it points out the worst things about women and then celebrates not changing them in the least.

Kristen Wiig's character, Annie, is a woman on her way to the bottom. Her business has failed, her boyfriend has split, she's enduring unpleasant sex with a self-absorbed jerk who has clearly stated that he doesn't want a relationship. Yet, she is trying to encourage him to fall for her. Her already messed up life is made worse by her best friend from childhood, Lillian, announcing that she's engaged. Instead of being happy for her friend, Annie wallows in her own misery while pasting on a happy face. All is made worse when Annie meets Lillian's newest BFF, Helen, who is rich, pretty, married, and determined to be in command. From there, the wheels come off the cart in increasingly horrific ways.

I understand the comedy of discomfort. I think 40-Year-Old Virgin is very funny and sweet. So what were my problems with this movie? Why did it bug me so much?

I don't really have a theme here, just impressions of the movie that bothered me.

-Of the five bridesmaids, three are married. None of those three marriages are happy and/or functional. Helen's stepchildren hate her, and she confesses that her husband travels to avoid being with her. Newlywed Becca is the stereotypical Disney virgin bride who is already sex starved and frustrated. Mother of three Rita has nothing good to say about her sons or her husband, and is so miserable in her marriage that all she can think about is escaping to Vegas. Why are we celebrating Lillian getting married at all? It seems like a horrible, hopeless institution.

- Fat friend Megan is the only person with any self-confidence, but in typical Hollywood fashion her self-confidence is shown to be ridiculously misplaced: Ha! Look at the funny fat chick who's too stupid to realize that she's a weirdo!! To the movie's credit, Megan is the one character who actually is together, but she's not portrayed as someone to emulate or admire, just as the lucky clown. Because fat girls can be funny, but not smart or serious. Still, she's the most likable character by far.

- Helen has a moment of tearful confession to Annie about how, despite the fact that everyone turns to her and wants her help because she's so good at things, she doesn't have any real female friends. Any woman who wasn't prom queen has to be rolling her eyes and thinking, "Oh please." How passive aggressive is the crocodile tears of "women hate me because I'm perfect!" confessions? And yet by the end of the movie the two of them are having huggy frenemy moments.

- If Helen's confession is supposed to be a turning point in her self-awareness, it then completely fails as she continues down the primrose path of holding a wedding so over-the-top tacky as to be ridiculous. Where is the result of the teachable moment? Certainly not onscreen.

- Lillian falls apart over the insanity of the wedding that Helen has kidnapped. "My Dad can't afford this." Wait, what? You're a 30-something bride who is aware of your father's budget constraints and you've allowed this woman to push you into bankrupting your father? Congratulations, movie, you've shown us once again that single women are not grownups and can't make decisions or have convictions. (Ironically, in movies about married couples the wives are always the ones who are capable and the men become brainless doofuses. Contemplate what that says about Hollywood.)

- The theme of the movie seems to be that women should stop being passive aggressive wimps who lie to each other, and yet in the last encounter between Helen and Annie, both of them are continuing with the same behaviors. What did we accomplish in two hours??

- But fortunately there is a knight in shining armor to rescue Annie from the horrors of being single and set her on the road back to the top. Because women are nothing without a man to rescue them.

So I guess that, while I understand that this is a comedic portrayal of the kind of women I have spent my life avoiding, I want something more to come from this stressful experience in their lives than, "we could do lunch...?"

By the end of 40-Year-Old Virgin, the entire buddy pack had experienced change and growth. The guys who were all for casual sex were now rooting for growing up and having real relationships. By the end of this movie? The only thing that had changed was the relationship status of a couple characters. Ultimately, the clever bits (and there were some) were overwhelmed by the stasis of women smiling false smiles.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: tormentedartist
2011-05-22 07:14 pm (UTC)
But its a hollywood movie designed for the mainstream...of course its going to be dumb.That is why I try and avoid most mainstream stuff because it has dumb built in. I'm sure that the forty year old virgin wasn't that great either.

I wonder if a man or a woman wrote this picture.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-22 07:32 pm (UTC)
Kristen Wiig cowrote it with another woman. Women are often their own worst oppressors.
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[User Picture]From: tormentedartist
2011-05-22 07:36 pm (UTC)
I don't even see it as being oppressive, I see it as stupidity and lack of imagination. It also shows that these peoples only interaction with life is through TV and the movies.

On the other hand maybe the movie studio told them to change their script and dumb it down.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-25 05:23 pm (UTC)
I totally see it as oppressive. It's much more obvious when women stone other women for not wearing a veil, or women want to deny other women access to abortion and even birth control. But the ways that women keep each other in their designated place are insidious.
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[User Picture]From: terriaminute
2011-05-22 09:32 pm (UTC)
I'd seen a review of this movie that pretty much told me why to avoid it. When you said you were seeing it, I was hoping you'd write about it. What you say here confirms my worst "fear" - the characters learn nothing. And that what I find funny is worlds away from what Hollywood thinks I should find funny.

Benny and Joon. THAT was a great movie.

And speaking of Depp, the fourth Pirates movie was good clean fun. :)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-23 12:45 am (UTC)
I really did want to like it, but there was just no way.
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[User Picture]From: jeffpalmatier
2011-05-22 11:46 pm (UTC)
Wow. Your analysis about this movie is so fascinating now I want to see it. I wonder if the people who wrote this movie had any real insight into character development and theme, because it sounds like they failed. It sounds almost like the credo of Seinfeld: "No lessons!" People just continue to wallow in the same counter-productive behavior with absolutely no growth.
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[User Picture]From: cynic51
2011-05-23 12:01 am (UTC)
>People just continue to wallow in the same counter-productive behavior with
>absolutely no growth.

So it's like real life then?
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[User Picture]From: jeffpalmatier
2011-05-23 12:04 am (UTC)
Yeah, exactly. Which is why Seinfeld actually might have been closer to real life than most of the shows and movies out there.
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[User Picture]From: stormgren
2011-05-23 12:58 am (UTC)
And probably why I can't stand Seinfeld.
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[User Picture]From: jeffpalmatier
2011-05-23 01:09 am (UTC)
For me, if it hadn't been a comedy, then I would have found their view of life to be too bleak and hence too painful to watch. But since it does give me so many laughs, I can enjoy it.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-23 01:07 am (UTC)
Yes, but our movies are supposed to be tales in which something other than real life happens. Otherwise, why bother?
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-23 12:48 am (UTC)
I'd be interested in your opinion. Ferrett and I are usually in pretty good accord about movies, but his take is completely different from mine.

I think what's even more damaging is that the credo isn't "no lessons" at all. Instead, they mistake surface changes for real change. It's all painted on the surface like make-up.
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[User Picture]From: jeffpalmatier
2011-05-23 01:07 am (UTC)
Instead, they mistake surface changes for real change.

Jeez, I can't count how many people this describes that I've encountered! Now I have to see this movie.
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From: anonymousalex
2011-05-23 12:16 am (UTC)
Wow, now I desperately want to see the movie Ferrett saw, and desperately want to avoid the one you saw.

-Alex
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-23 01:14 am (UTC)
It does sounds like two different movies, doesn't it?
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[User Picture]From: roaming
2011-05-23 04:42 am (UTC)
I agree with all that. AND I winced at the "infamous bathroom scene." Did not think it funny in the least. Were they trying to outgross the guys? They succeeded. (I think. I have never had the slightest urge to see the lost weekend films.)

But I came away with the message that the grass always seems greener, but isn't. (Well, except for Lillian, who hasn't yet had kids that will hate her someday.) I thought it was a message for single women wallowing in their misery that feeling jealous of those other ladies you think have what you want and can't have is a wasted emotion, because really you're all in the same boat. And yes it's sinking. Also, that Not As Handsome as Jon Hamm Good Guys are a better bet. Also that you make your bed (with Jon Hamm) and you have to lie in it.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-23 05:42 pm (UTC)
I can see those as extrapolated messages, but not necessarily ones that most people laughing at barf jokes are going to get.
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[User Picture]From: roaming
2011-05-23 06:37 pm (UTC)
heh, good point!
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[User Picture]From: ccr1138
2011-05-23 02:56 pm (UTC)
After reading both your reviews, I've come to two conclusions. 1) I don't want to see this movie, and 2) stereotypical guy behavior is inherently amusing, while stereotypical chick behavior is simply sad and destructive. I guess some people might find it funny to follow a bunch of women making nice-nice while despising each other, but I don't get it.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-23 05:44 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's pretty much where I'm coming from. I read reviews saying that it did a great job of making girl stuff just as funny, but I didn't find that to be the case.
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[User Picture]From: polymorphism
2011-05-23 03:41 pm (UTC)
It sounded awful from Ferrett's review. Definitely not interested now. Maybe I'll go find Steel Magnolias.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-23 05:45 pm (UTC)
Definitely a better look at women interacting. Just rewatched it a few months ago.
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[User Picture]From: geli_tripping
2011-05-23 09:26 pm (UTC)
Wow, I had a totally different take on this movie. I liked it a lot, and I laughed like crazy at the bathroom scene! True, the female characters were exaggerated stereotypes, but there was some truth behind those stereotypes - some women are like the various characters in the film. And in the end, it seemed to me that they did learn something about how to be a friend.

And I don't think the knight in shining armor was the man- I think it was Meghan!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-05-23 10:03 pm (UTC)
It's certainly done well at the box office and is very popular. But I'm in the minority unconvinced by it.
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From: simulated_knave
2011-08-10 08:23 pm (UTC)
Since I finally saw the movie...

My fiancee and I are basically in agreement (at least on not finding it that funny). I'm in agreement on it being...wrong, and kind of uncomfortable.

I guess what it came down to for me was that almost of all of these people were deeply unhappy and completely incapable of dealing with it. The emotional problems they confronted are ones people should learn to handle moderately well by the time they're out of college. And that was presented as OK. I mean, the most adult character in the entire movie was the cop, by a very, very large margin.

These were children, wandering around hurting other people and each other, and no one seemed to be aware they were children. It was just...wrong.

On the other hand, I was very pleased that the fat girl introduced initially in a workshirt and pants did NOT turn out to be a lesbian. So that was refreshing.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2011-08-10 09:02 pm (UTC)
Children. Yes. I'm glad to know that I was not the only one who found the movie unfunny. I don't get what other people saw in it.
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