Saturday, 25 June 2011


A couple of months back I complained (largely without foundation, as readers quickly pointed out) that cinema was lacking in a particular class of coming-of-age film centred around a female character. I should have waited a bit. While Bridesmaids doesn't really fall into this class, being centred specifically around a wedding, it does provide a neat counter-example to my deeper claim that cinema is largely male-focused. Of course, I could still argue that it's a rare exception that proves the rule, but I learnt enough from the good-natured pasting I took last time round not to push it.

Anyway, Bridesmaids, as the name suggests, is built around a small coterie of bridesmaids and the series of familiar rituals (dress-fitting, hen night, bridal shower) that they pass through on the way to the wedding. At least, the structure is familiar, though the detail is definitely not. Things, needless to say, don't go to plan, and much hilarity ensues. But the film is much more than a lowest-common-denominator gagfest. Its central protagonist, Annie, goes on a journey that explores the nature of her friendship with the bride, Lillian, and forces her to confront some downright unhelpful aspects of her character. Actually, describing it as a "journey" might make the film sound far more pedestrian and convention-following than it actually is. It's not a cliché-busting work of genius, but I thought that it genuinely captured something of female friendship (he says, looking in from the outside), as well as more obliquely covering the societal roles of women at the start of the 21st century. Now I'm making it sound like a didactic piece, or, more likely, sounding like I'm travelling up my own backside.

Anyway, by way of summary, I thought it was great. It appealed to my base humour, while leaving plenty for me to mull over afterwards. Which is far, far, far more than can be said for the film that it's frequently compared to, The Hangover. To describe that film, which, though amusing, is pretty cliché-enforcing, as a male Bridesmaids would be a grave disservice. All of which isn't to say that Bridesmaids is perfect. There are a few places where a gag is allowed to drag on too long, a sequence on a plane that would most likely have landed the protagonist in jail, and a particular scene in a dress shop that may, well, stretch the boundaries of some viewers' tastes (sadly, not mine). But, overall, it's pretty great.

Grade: B+ (+2 on the Leeper Scale)

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