EDITORIALS

Paul Feig's 'Bridesmaids', Another Take - A Female Writer's Reaction

by
May 14, 2011

Bridesmaids

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?

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  • Xerxexx
    There's nothing better than a truly intelligent comedy...and this is not one of those instances...that said it looks funny and I'll check it out...but I agree Cate on all your points.
    • guest
       So, you haven't seen the film, yet you agree on all points and say that it is not intelligent. Just clarifying.
      • Xerxexx
         What I'm saying, is that this is not an intelligent comedy...and that is the most obvious observation...its nothing more than a raunchy summer comedy and that's cool, I'm seeing the film in a few days...Bridesmaids will not be memorable comedy, but will it be funny film? Yes.
        • The Shoes Dude
          I think the argument here is that your making assumptions based on trailers and other people's views. How can you say it's not going to be memorable and that it's not an intelligent comedy when you haven't even seen it yet? You're making up your mind before walking into the theater. That's terrible critiquing.
          • Xerxexx
             But I'm still seeing the film, Tuesday in fact...its not necessarily me saying the film will suck and be nothing more than a nuisance, I'm saying I'm gonna go in, watch the film, laugh, then leave...and forget 80% of the film by Friday...until the DVD releases...I'm saying the film will suck...I'm not saying I'm better than the film...only that I know what to expect from Feig.  I will come here tomorrow and let you all know how I feel, if I'm wowed I'll eat my words...I'm just not expecting to be wowed.
  • Derek
     @ Xerexx...how can you say it isn't intelligent, and agree with Cate yet you have never seen it?...makes no sense. I enjoyed it a lot. Have to disagree on the ending. That one scene you mention where they are still mad, I don't think they really were as mad as you make it seem. She obviously by that point wasn't mad and regretting what she did, and he, I thought it was pretty clear, still had feelings for her and you could see it on his face when she drove away. So there really didn't need to be an in between. The way they set it up it was as if Helen had called him (her look before she got in the car, and the way she told Annie he was there). Still I do agree that the structure was a bit off, the editing wasn't the best, and there were other moments that I felt needed an "in between", like how they went from just meeting to all being together getting lunch.
    • Xerxexx
       I get the initial gist of her article. I'm able to tell right now what kind comedy this is: A raunchy laughfest, and I'm excited to see it and am going to very soon. Cate like myself is a fan of intelligent comedy and Bridesmaids is not an intelligent comedy, just a comedy.
      • Skylar
        It's very presumptuous of you to say that this isn't an intelligent comedy. One thing I loved about the movie as that one minute there's bathroom humor, and the next minute is very smart and heartfelt. Go see a movie before you claim to 'know' anything about it.
        • Xerxexx
          I'm seeing the film, I just know what to expect...I'm not implying that the film is straight up middle school humor, I just know Paul Feig and Wiig...I will enjoy the film, but I won't walk away remembering that much.
    • CisforCinema
      I caught the glimpse from Helen, I just didnt think it was enough. I did like the relationship between Wiig's character and O'Dowd's - I found it very sweet and sort of fell in love with the Irish actor as the film went on! But I thought the scenes were a bit incomplete.
      • Xerxexx
         O'Dowd was excellent as Simon in "The Boat That Rocked" I'm mostly seeing it for Wiig and O'Dowd.
    • albatross
      "The way they set it up it was as if Helen had called him (her look before she got in the car, and the way she told Annie he was there)." That's the way I saw it.  Helen trying to make up with Annie and show that she's a good person after all.
  • Junebug
    I loved the film. Melissa McCarthy was HYSTERICAL and I am a huge dork for Chris O'Dowd. I did think the scene between Wigg and Byrne giving the speech during the engagement party could have been cut in half, other than that it was a fun raunchy comedy. The 90's references were awesome.  
  • Chazzy
     Best review I've read in awhile.  Actually gives us specific details about what she disliked about the movie, other than some reviews on here simply saying "its boring."   Thank you, Cate.
  • Jon A.
    When will the day come where everybody stop trying to sound smart with their "own" opinion and honestly say if the movie's good or not rather than saying "everybody's saying this is good? I think this is good but there's this thing... I think it's this bcuz I'm my own independent person with my own opinion and I wear beret" fag-a-la. Take your opinion and shove it up you-know-where. People are severely over abusing the privilege of having their own opinion that art has no meaning anymore except for existing so them jackasses can claim their fake aestheticism. Fuck off.
    • Chazzy
      If you don't like hearing people's opinions, don't go to a website where people discuss their opinions about movies.   Wtf are you ranting on about?  Gtfo. 
      • http://www.firstshowing.net Alex Billington
         Here here!!
  • Lirensmom
    I am still laughing until I cry, after leaving the movie theater almost an hour ago. I have to disagree with you: this movie is memorable. As you point out, it is rare to see women portrayed as we really are. I could care less if the ending came wrapped in a pretty ribbon. I didn't need more explanation than what was given. Your review comes off as slightly bitter. And, if you're going to criticize a movie, at least punctuate the title correctly. "Bridesmaids" is a must-own, never mind a must-see.
    • http://www.firstshowing.net Alex Billington
      What's wrong with the title? I'm her editor and that was my choice, so blame me for it. But that just seems very nitpicky because you didn't like what she had to say. Is all that you're complaining about a semi-colon instead of a dash? Also, why don't you explain in greater detail why YOU think it's actually a "must-own" if you disagree with Cate.
      • Lirensmom
        Okay I will. Here are the reasons why I would buy it. 1) The characters are real enough to remind me of my friends and I. Having been in a few weddings myself, it's nice to see te real, crazy side instead of the sugar sweet, everything is perfect side. 2) Slapstick comedy, done well, is rare. Slapstick, done well with women, is unheard of. 3) Did I mention that I laughed until I cried? 4) The romance between Annie and Officer Rhodes was warm, funny, and believable for once. Were there some holes? Yes, but not enough to matter. 5) So many of the situations in the story have happened to me and my friends. Wiig and Mumolo managed to take the sting out of those events and make me laugh until I cried. As for editing, brush up on your apostrophe use. It should be Bridesmaids'.
        • Lirensmom
          Pardon my typo. I meant to type "the" instead of "te".
  • Guy
     Wow, you use a chance to give a critique from a females perspective and instead you just try to sound like you know how to screenwrite. I guess they didn't give classes in critiquing a film. There are no Rules to writing a film to make it memorable, this movie is one of the funniest of the last 5 years with a completely unique perspective. Thats enough for it to be memorable. 
    • http://www.firstshowing.net Alex Billington
      Just because you have a different opinion from someone doesn't mean you can libel them and say they don't know anything. Come on, for someone that comments regularly on this site, you should know better than that! Please treat all of our writer's with respect, even if you disagree with them.
      • Guy
        I was intrigued by the premise of the post. So I suppose disappointment mixed with the enthusiasm for the film came out too harshly. Apologies team, love you guys.
        • CisforCinema
          There are a million positive reviews out there you can read, I apologize if by using a slightly, slightly critical eye I upset anyone who enjoyed the film. I think we ought to expect more when we go to the theater that's all. High expectations are not a bad thing!
      • Guest
         I got the same impression as Guy; the author implies that she knows everything there is to know about screenwriting due to her freshly-procured formal education and uses that as a premise to criticize the film's structure and composition for what- not being textbook? Seems to me like a flawed way to limit one's critiquing perspective. Besides, Wiig read at least one book on the subject too; she just probably paid less for her education. Maybe when one of Cate Hahneman's screenplays becomes a film I will have to acknowledge the superiority of sticking to a formula, but for what it's worth I found a lot of that film hilariously memorable despite its lack of "structure and consistency."
        • Mike P
           She brought up problems she had with the film and problems she found within its script.  She was able to notice these problems because she has been studying it for years.  How is this implying she knows everything?
      • http://www.BriefEpisode.com/ Gib Wallis
        Guy's message wasn't disrespectful and hardly qualifies as libel. Moreover, I concur on the point that there are no rules for making a movie memorable. At least that they are able to teach at UCLA or USC (I have paper from both schools of film). The title of this post doesn't really describe the post itself. It would be more accurately titled as "New Film Grad Responds to Plot of Bridesmaids." 
    • Mike P
      The perspective may be unique, but it's not the first movie from the POV of a woman during days leading up to a wedding.  The movie was funny, but not entirely memorable. You're right, there are no rules to make a movie memorable, but there are guidelines for structuring a screenplay, and while you can "break the rules of screenwriting", it's not advised if you aren't established, as it usually doesn't end well.  The movie did have issues and fall flat in that area.
  • MA in Unread Scripts
     "but as a screenwriting student fresh off the graduation boat I have to say I was a bit disappointed."  TRANSLATION - I have a stick up my ass in the shape of a diploma. And sure, while I haven't sold a screenplay, I think I know a lot more than these women with their writing and their careers. Step aside, ladies, I have a student loan that trumps you and your "viable careers".  I can admit I sound obnoxious. Why can't you, Cate?
    • Mike P
      She wasn't gloating that she has a diploma, at all.  She knows just as well as anyone else, a degree in screenwriting isn't going to help you get your screenplay sold.  She was stating that because she has knowledge on the subject -- What makes a good screenplay, how to write one, etc. She made a clear point about what Wiig said in an interview about buying a screenwriting book after she was given an opportunity. Comedy is completely subjective and will turn people crazy if you don't think that something they think is funny, I've never seen anyone get so defensive about something so harmless. At no point did Cate sound obnoxious, she was giving her professional opinion of the movie, and backing it up with facts and solid points.  You apparently disagree with her, and decide she's now an unintelligent mess. For the record, she's right on the nose.  The movie was funny as hell in some parts, but it's not a game changer.
      • Rob
        There is a huge difference between a shooting script and a finished film.  Knowledge about what makes a good screenplay needs to be tempered with the realities of filmmaking.  Trust me, I've been slugging it out on the short film circuit for a few years now, and just managed to land a literary agent, as well as just landing my first potentially big feature gig... It would be hard to imagine bringing a feature script to screen.  Things get cut, shuffled, and tightened, especially on an intensively improvisational film such as this. Also, yes, Cate DID sound obnoxious.  And if I do, it's to prove a point, no film school necessary.
  • Anonymous
    I respect the author's point of view, and think that it makes some rather interesting points from a screenwriter's eye. However, my wife and I saw this today, and if you watch a film for entertainment value, this is some funny sh**. If you want to pick apart the technical merit of a film's screenwriting, why on earth would you pick this movie when there is plenty of theatrical dreck worthy of your keen insight?
    • http://twitter.com/QuanahTweets Quanah
      I agree fazha. Cate, I think you were looking for something that wasn't there. This movie isn't meant to be anything but what it is: Just laughter. If you laughed, as it appears you did, then they did their job. The films flaws are obviously not fatal as most critics sight the film as entertaining and worth watching. Every film has flaws. The question is: Can you look past them and still enjoy the ride? 
  • hill
    Unless you've actually read the screenplay, I'm not sure how you can critique the film on that basis. How do you know what has been cut? The editing process can account for some of the disconnect the author sights here...perhaps she should have taken that into account. By the way, everyone I know who has seen this film, is going back for a second time...if that's not a "memorable" movie, I don't know what is.
  • Rob
    I have 10.5 mil for you Cate, now go out and write something better.  Oh, and make it real and honest.  And leave plenty of room for improvisation.
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1503900114 Tyler Morgan
     What this thread has taught me: If you provide an opinion on posts it's fine unless it's on Cate's posts. These posts are special and your opinion will be followed up by Alex defending Cate.  "Nature versus Nurture, Lodge. Nature...always wins."
    • Xerxexx
       Cate I think has done her job, she ignited a fire and got a debate started. I think that's why we come to this site, Alex and friends get us riled up and let us share our opinions...and that's why I love coming here...sure I've annoyed plenty of people with my comments  and opinions, but that's what this site is: Opinions from Cinephiles. I enjoyed Cate's article and I wanna hear more from her.
  • funny
    This movie was very funny! The enitre crowd was laughing so hard, they started crying. It was really good, really funny and Megan was hilarious. 
  • http://twitter.com/Casey_Carroll Casey Carroll
  • Rc
     I'm a screenwriter, too.  But your comments are sour grapes.  I thought they did a great job of bringing humor to the third act if the film.  What were you watching?  And the love story between the Wiig and the cop was actually done fairly well, although he did protest a tad too much when she was basically begging him to reunite.  I think it's one of the best comedies ever.
  • Concourse D
    I appreciate your review but, as a fellow degree holder in film, I disagree that this film doesn't meet high expectations.  It may be a matter of perspective, but I don't find the more serious passages to be at all out of place.  There were a number of lovely, quiet, unfunny moments leading to up the third act, and I found the emotions to be both grounded, earned,  and welcome. Also, I don't find any holes in the lead romance either.  This isn't "Blue Valentine": the rift between the two characters was not so complicated that it needed any more reparation than what was provided. And as for it not being "intelligent", I found the film's attention to the details of female friendships to be head and shoulders above the usual "Bride Wars" level tripe.  This is really hard to get right, and to have nailed it so fully requires insight and excecution. My brilliant wife agrees.
    • Xerxexx
       Nicely worded Concourse.
      • Concourse D
        Thank you, sir!   "Concourse D, Xerxexx, and CisforCinema: keeping civil discussion alive since 2011."
        • Xerxexx
           Thanks, I do try...even though I have been involved in some spit fire debates in the past...I'm attempting to travel in a new direction when it comes to internet debates. 
  • http://twitter.com/rickchung Rick Chung
    Bridesmaids is a raunchy hit.
  • Anonymous
    I'm convinced. I will cough up the dough to see this. :)
  • http://independencefilm.wordpress.com/ Sidiki
    I'm definitely seeing this. I don't see why people are calling this a "chick-flick", it looks funnier than most of the comedies we see today. 
  • supercute
    I too am pissed that Kristen Wiig said she bought a 'How-to-write-a-screenplay' book and then wrote it in FIVE days. But then it's been in development since 2006 so I imagine there were at least a FEW rewrites.  I liked her relationship with O"Dowd in the movie, it was supposed to be a bit messy, just like life. I thought their argument was mostly resolved - she was still hoping he would forgive her for the not-baking incident. They were so great together. I think I heard that women love a happy ending so maybe that's why they picked that ending. Loved it.
  • Smendoza
     Saw the film.. thought it had hilarious moments. Best part was finding out that Tim Heidecker is in it.
  • Filmguy
    I love the part where the castrated a goat  

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