Paul Feig's 'Bridesmaids', Another Take - A Female Writer's Reaction
by Cate Hahneman
May 14, 2011
Girls say the F word too. And now the whole world knows it thanks to Bridesmaids, directed by Paul Feig and produced by Judd Apatow, a funny but far from perfect take on the raunchy adult comedy from the perspective of the ladies. I wanted to take a moment to talk about my thoughts on the film following Jeremy's review from earlier in the week. I do want to affirm that I did enjoy Bridesmaids; it was, after all, the first summer movie I had the chance to catch (sorry Thor) and I laughed a lot, but as a screenwriting student fresh off the graduation boat I have to say I was a bit disappointed.
The night before I saw the movie, star and co-writer Kristen Wiig appeared on The Daily Show (watch here). She mentioned that after her role in Judd Appatow's Knocked Up the director asked her point-blank if she had any ideas for a movie. Wiig then rushed off with her co-writer Annie Mumolo (who makes an appearance as a nervous airplane passenger -- you might have seen that in the trailers) and the pair bought a "how-to-write-a-screenplay-book." At least, this is how Wiig tells the story.
On one hand it's great that, given the opportunity, a woman or two can plop down on the couch and type out a string of funny, genuine, and honest female dialogue; unlike the love-interests in previous films of the genre, I'm looking at you Wedding Crashers, Old School, and The Hangover, the characters in Bridesmaids mumble and swear and talk about men and sex like REAL women. It's refreshing to see and frankly, it's about damn time.
Unfortunately, as funny as these women are their script is lacking in the structure and consistency needed to make Bridesmaids one to remember. Without spoiling too much, the film falls into the common pattern of getting to the end of the second act and realizing it has to "resolve the premise" and suddenly the screen is filled with serious plot rather than humor. Now, I'm a writer so more plot is good. It's essential. It's important. But why can't characters ponder their bad behavior in scenes that still make us crack a smile? Life is funny after all, even the messy parts. (See the prime example of this in Ron Howard's Parenthood, when Steve Martin literally calls life messy before making the film's best joke.)
My other problem came with Bridesmaid's finale. Again, while avoiding the specifics, I will say that the script does not clarify the reason why lead girl and lead guy get together in the end (sorry but c'mon you knew that was coming). The story jumps from one scene in which they're still mad at each other to the last scene in the film when they're reuniting. Something in the middle is missing. I don't think the couple falling in love was written as an afterthought by any means, so I guess that the slip-up just reveals how fresh to screenwriting these comediennes are.
Maybe I shouldn't be such a Scrooge but I think strong writing is vital to good movie-making and honestly, when we buy our tickets we deserve to see a complete result. I'm not trying to discourage anyone from watching Bridesmaids, because it IS hilarious at times. After this movie there is no denying that women are as foul-mouthed, sexy, disgusting, and funny as men. So if anything, it is a step in the right direction. Here's to hoping next time around the women behind the words are a little braver, a little clearer, and keep the humor going in every scene no matter what.
So there's my two cents, both as a writer, and as a female. What did you think of Bridesmaids?