Adult Movies III

film 2 of 4


Film Review by Dean Duncan May 2, 2014

This is too much, objectively speaking.  However, from the perspective of this particular, partly representative, quite spectacularly talented writer/star, too much may be just about right. At least that’s how she feels, and her perspective deserves some consideration. When talking to kids about sex, aren’t you supposed to call things by their names? Since this is Juvenalian satire, and since scorching outrage lies so close to the comic surface, then it seems appropriate that we would be in for a bumpy ride. Whether or not the viewer wants to get on is a whole different question.

Juvenalian, which is to say that humour is an objective—met, often quite spectacularly—but it’s not necessarily the point. We have a dispiriting theme here, really, and it shows up so often (from Repulsion forward, or maybe since people started blaming Eve for everything) that it must be the truth. Sexuality tends to be discussed and enacted on male terms, the which are almost always self-serving for the male, and degrading for the female. This is true even when the exchange or setting is not sexual, even when the male isn’t even present. This film’s pretty comic, pretty awful opening sequence makes the point pretty effectively. From here on, for all the occasional appearances of the various male characters, Bridesmaids actually proceeds a lot like Claire Luce Booth’s The Women. The men are a structuring absence, conspicuous in their sparseness, and altogether having a disproportionate and generally disastrous effect on our various female subjects.


Meant that way? Not completely, probably, especially in the way the anomalous Chris O’Dowd character (aren’t actual Irish cops usually limited to New York City, and about eighty years ago?) shows up to provide some contrast and respite. It’s not exactly that the O’Dowd character doesn’t work. Rather, he’s kind of like the Charles Vanel character in Clouzot’s Diabolique, or maybe Claire Danes in The Hours. These three personages suggest that there’s something outside all of this misanthropy, or savagery, or self-destructiveness. They just don’t seem to belong, or have any chance of affecting the particular, hermetic worlds that they wander in to. (Also reminiscent, positively, of Adrienne Shelley’s Waitress. Alas, in that instance the point got further proven, though this time by fatal extracinematic events.)

Thelma Todd, Patsy Kelly, misc.

Thelma Todd, Patsy Kelly, misc.

This dire and demonstrable theme really registers here and remains with you, for all the apparently happy consummations at the film’s conclusion. But this is also just as much an SNL movie, if a cut above the often fragmented and scattered SNL norm. The norm, as well as the transcending thereof, makes Bridesmaids into a kind of comic equivalent of the Saboteur-type Alfred Hitchcock film. You know—the ones where the cinema, or the set pieces, rise above and stay with you more than the plot, or the theme, or the whole. As far as comic set pieces go there are some real humdingers here: the dueling dedications between Wiig’s best buddy and Rose Byrne’s insufferable climber, the obligatorily scatological, heroically staged food poisoning sequences, the entire, practically epic airplane incident (Wiig!). Melissa McCarthy develops from potential stock figure into bawdy force of nature, with even a few pretty effective sentimental and didactical detours along the way. The big event melt-downs that draw us to the conclusion are effective, but the emblematic sequence may be the one in which Wiig tries to get O’Dowd’s disaffected cop to warm back up to her. The comic variations on a very little situation—she drives by, and drives by, and then keeps driving by—practically combine Jane Austen, infinitely embroidering until that little piece of lace contains the whole world, and Jeff Beck. This woman can do anything!