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Why Bridesmaids Doesn’t Deserve to Be Compared to The Hangover

I watched the Oscars last night, along with everyone who wasn’t watching some sort of basketball game. The cast of Bridesmaids was highly entertaining as they presented awards for Best Short Film (Live Action), Best Documentary (Short Subject) and Best Animated Short Film. They were funny, irreverent, and looking gorgeous all at the same time. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is essentially all Bridesmaids is, as well.

When Bridesmaids first hit the theaters, I was excited to see it. It had been trumpeted as “The Hangover for women,” and personal friends whose opinions I respect had given it enthusiastic thumbs up. To say I was disappointed when I finally saw it would be generous: I spent a good part of the movie, from about ten minutes in, wishing it would just be over already.

This could be a case of over-hype. That is, my expectations were high and so it was inevitable that the reality would fall short. And yet, if that were all, I don’t think I would feel offended the way I do. It’s not the raunchiness of the humor, that I can handle. It’s that this screenplay would be compared to The Hangover that bothers me.

The Hangover was a movie that utterly surprised me. I’m not generally a fan of the gross-out humor genre, but the screenplay for The Hangover was so well-written, the plot so tightly woven, that the humor seemed to flow naturally from the high stakes ridiculousness of the situation and the nature of the characters. Was some of it over-the-top, like Zach Galifinakis’ simple-minded misfit character? Sure, only in that it’s not the kind of thing you expect to see in real life. Still, the character was balanced by the normalcy of the groom and the semi-normalcy of the other two groomsmen. With these characters faced with a circumstance that grew increasingly more ridiculous and desperate, the humor simply fit, and the audience was on the edge of their seats. That’s a well-written movie.

Bridesmaids had none of this. The story was trite and the character arcs mundane or non-existent. The characters themselves were ludicrous — the normalcy of the Hangover characters served to balance the craziness of the situation, whereas the craziness of the Bridesmaids characters created the craziness of the situation, sending everything over-the-top. The style of the humor was the only thing that made Bridesmaids different from every other movie about a group of bridesmaids, and that sort of humor for its own sake does not make a brilliant screenplay. Entertaining, perhaps. But not brilliant.

I appreciate the significance of Bridesmaids: female comedians have a hard uphill battle to fight, and having women in a movie of this style is something to note. It’s uncommon, and that makes it brave. Women should be able to play these types of roles, and Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo did a good job in writing a screenplay that allowed for that. Did it deserve an Oscar? No. Was it terrible? No. There is an in between here.

It’s just not The Hangover for women. And I’d love it if people would stop calling it that.

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Posted on February 27, 2012, in Movies and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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