Not one to shy away from the hand that feeds, Katherine Heigl once mentioned in Vanity Fair that she felt that Judd Apataow’s film Knocked Up, which is credited with helping her transition from a television star to leading lady in films, was sexist because of its portrayal of women as joyless workaholic whiners.
Even now, it seems an odd complaint and none of Heigl’s acting choices since then appear to be particularly empowering or show women in any more favourable light. She took the role of a woman who has been a bridesmaid 27 times and lusts after her sister’s fiancee, then followed it up by playing a character who falls in love with a relationship guru who claims that men are only interested in women’s looks.
You can’t help but wonder whether the remark got to Apatow however. After being involved in the creation of a string of bro-mance films (Pineapple Express, Superbad, Knocked Up, 40 Year Old Virgin) he has suddenly produced a film written by two women and is almost exclusively centered around the dynamics of friendship amongst women. How single minded is this focus? Lillian’s fiancee doesn’t have a single line of dialogue in the entire film. He just stands there and smiles while the women have at it.
The central character in the story is Annie, played by Kirsten Wiig, who has been asked to be the maid of honour at her friend Lillian’s wedding. Wiig, a Saturday Night Live alumni, is an immensely likable actor much in the same vein as Tina Fey. She seems relatable and down to earth, the anti-thesis of more traditional rom-com stars such as Julia Roberts or Drew Barrymore.
The drama in the film arises when Annie begins to feel that she is losing out on her friendship with Lillian to Helen, a wealthy trophy wife who threatens to outshine Annie at every turn with her obscene flaunting of wealth. Wiig certainly isn’t afraid to make Annie come off as a tad unlikeable as she reacts in a fiercely negative fashion to what she perceives as Helen moving in on her turf. There’s also a side story involving Annie choosing between an Irish cop and an arrogant millionaire in her own love life.
Bridesmaids sort of feels like you’re getting three films in one. The advertising is wisely promoting it as an ensemble-cast lowbrow comedy thats a girl’s version of The Hangover. It’s also got the usual tropes of a standard fish-out-of-water rom-com where the love interest is right under the main character’s nose the whole time but they’re attracted to Mr Wrong for most of the film. Mostly though, its about the friendship and bond between two women which…actually, I can’t really think of a comparison. When was the last time someone made a film about that? I don’t think Katherine Heigl has done one of those yet.
It’s this Jack Of All Trades quality that makes Bridesmaid have such a broad appeal. I think almost everyone should find something funny in this film. I personally enjoyed the uncomfortably honest sex and relationship conversations that Annie and Lillian have. Others will prefer the 20-minute-long poop gag at the gown fitting scene. This is a film that has it all.