Friday, July 20, 2012

Film Friday: Bridesmaids (2011)

Bridesmaids was a monster hit in 2011, raking in $288 million. So when it came to HBO, I decided to check it out. How bad could it be, right? You might be surprised. And while humor is subjective and people’s opinions can vary, here’s why you shouldn’t like this film.

** spoiler alert **

Written by Kristen Wiig and produced by Judd Apatow, Bridesmaids is the story of the miserable and unredeeming existence of Annie Walker (Kristen Wiig), an intensely unlikeable woman who has been tasked with planning the wedding of her friend Lillian. . . sort of. The film never pins down her exact role, so I can’t give you more precision, except to say that she’s the maid of honor and she’s supposed to come up with ideas to entertain the bridesmaids. But Lillian has another friend, Helen (Rose Byrne), who seems to be doing the same thing plus whatever else is needed to make the jokes work. The rest of the story is Annie ruining all the wedding preparations as she alienates everyone in her life because she is, for lack of a stronger word, an asshole. Naturally, in a film this poorly written and conceived you know the ending already – it all works out, everyone becomes friends again, and Annie finds the perfect boyfriend.
The first problem with this film, the one which makes it so darn boring, is that it lacks a story arc. All good stories involve an arc, i.e. some journey where the characters begin at one place and make their way to another. This can be a physical journey where they change locations, an achievement journey where they try to accomplish some goal, or an emotional journey where the characters either resolve emotional needs or grow as people. Bridesmaids has no such arc. It thinks it does, but it doesn’t.

What the film thinks it’s doing is taking Annie on an emotional journey where she begins with a messed up life because she’s self-centered and she ends up winning her happiness by becoming a better person. Only, that’s not what really happens. Annie is a character who thrives on nastiness, self-pity, and jealousy. She should be primed for growth, but she never grows. Instead, she goes from scene to scene offending people without ever learning. Yet, the film isn’t smart enough to recognize this failure, so it has the other characters pretend that she’s grown, even though she hasn’t. That makes the whole thing feel faked.
What’s worse, she becomes even more unlikable after she’s supposedly had her epiphany moment. After losing her job, her apartment, her friends and her boyfriend, she finally declares that she has hit bottom. A scene or two later, her nemesis Helen comes to her for help. Helen is very upset that they can’t find the bride, but also begins to pour her heart out to Annie about her own life being miserable, BUT the supposedly reformed Annie mocks her. This was pure cruelty and it made me angry. Oddly, Helen seems to think she deserves to be mocked. Then Lillian forgives her for destroying the wedding shower, her boyfriend forgives her for things she’s done to him, and all the other bridesmaids forgive her for everything. And what has she done to earn this forgiveness? Nothing. They just decide this abusive jerk is someone they can’t live without.

This is nonsense and it’s deeply unsatisfying. This film went through the motions of a story arc to make her a better person, but didn’t bother improving her and yet still acted like she was a new person. This makes the film feel like a rip-off.

But even beyond that, Bridesmaids suffers from an all-too-common problem with Apatow-related films: it’s not funny. And the reason it’s not funny is the way it handles its characters. Specifically, the film is packed with so many whacky characters that they become distracting. In fact, almost every character in the story can be considered a whacky character. Yet none of them pay off.

Whacky characters are comedic gold. But they need to be used correctly. Typically, whacky characters introduce specific traits into a film which then become relevant in the plot at some point. Horrible Bosses and Dinner for Schmucks are excellent examples of this, as both introduced a small number of truly strange characters whose quirks would shape the plot throughout. Bridesmaids doesn’t do this. Annie lives with a freakish, incestuous brother and sister from England. Most of the bridesmaids are oversexed in the extreme. She sleeps with a man who openly uses her for sex. Her mother is crackpot who uses AA as a way to meet people. But not one of these characters ultimately affects the plot. Basically, their wackiness is gratuitous, as these characters are stand-alone jokes whose sole purpose is to show you something wacky. You could actually strip every single one of them out of the film without missing a beat -- compare that to Dinner for Schmucks which ends in a mind-control duel which provides a tremendous payoff for several of the characters. Even worse, these characters aren’t funny. The brother and sister are creepy. The bridesmaids are unoriginal. The mother’s lines are nonsense. They are jokes without a punchline.
The result of this combination of a story without a genuine arc and characters with no purpose except to be self-contained jokes is a movie that isn’t very strong and which relies entirely on the ability of Wiig to pull you in and make you feel the plight of her character. But since her character is malicious and oozes self-pity throughout, there’s little to like. In fact, the only character I truly liked was Annie’s eventual boyfriend, a Wisconsin State Trooper (Chris O’Dowd) who is inexplicably (again with no payoff) from Ireland. His story at least had an arc and his character seemed to have genuine feelings.

In many ways, Bridesmaids reminds me of The Green Hornet. You have a main character who is a total ass with a cruel streak, but we’re supposed to like them just because they’re the lead character. You have an assortment of strange minor characters, but they don’t contribute to the story, their purpose is just to be stand-alone jokes. And you end up with a film which feels flat and unpleasant. Clearly, a lot of people liked this film, but I think it benefitted from name recognition and the dearth of female-led comedies, and I suspect this film will ultimately lack staying power, like so much else associated with Apatow.

90 comments:

DUQ said...

Excellent evisceration. I saw this film because everyone else saw it and said it was good. Frankly, I couldn't understand why they thought that? This was just a dull movie with only a couple laughs. As usual, you've done a great job of making my sense of the film coherent and explaining logically what I was feeling.

In other words, nice review! :D

K said...

Please tell me that you're stealing the HBO signal and NOT actually giving them money. ^_^;;;;

Ed said...

I thought it was an ok waste of time, like a lot of comedies these days. There were a couple times I laughed and I didn't hate the film, but I never cared one way or the other and I forget the whole thing the minute it ended.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks DUQ! I'm glad I could help clarify your mental and emotional state. ;)

AndrewPrice said...

K, Sadly, yes, I pay for HBO. I like watching the movies. And some of their original stuff is good too, like Game of Thrones. But yeah, there is a lot of ugly politics in their other stuff.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I was bored, frankly. This was one of those movies where you watch each scene without caring at all what was about to happen and the jokes weren't funny or interesting enough to keep me laughing. I wouldn't recommend this one.

tryanmax said...

I'm usually the Apatow apologist, but this movie is a real stinakroo. I think the reason so many people responded to Bridesmaids as a great film is because of an overabundance of want.

1. For some reason, people want a girl-comedy that's just as raunchy and irreverent as a guy comedy. I don't understand that desire, but this film purported to be that. However, it barely even registers on the raunchiness scale. Bridesmaids gets inexplicably compared to The Hangover which was much raunchier and most people don't even think of it as a raunchy comedy.

2. People want a girl-comedy that guys enjoy. Again, why? Is it some sort of validation thing? In any case, another fail as this wasn't a female comedy. It was a male comedy starring females. The thing that really struck me about this movie is how unfeminine it was. I'm not saying that women should be flowers and lace all the time. I've been married. I am well over that conception. Rather, I'm saying these women were acting and behaving like men.

3. People want there to be sexism in comedy. Oh, nobody says that, but what else can it mean when every time a female-centric comedy is released, the general reaction is "Finally! A comedy about women!" What about Muriel's Wedding? Miss Congeniality? Nine to Five? Mean Girls? Romy and Michele's High School Reunion?

Looking back over my short list, I see all points are related (and probably in reverse-order). The bottom line is, when it comes to women's place in comedy, it looks like people (feminists?) want things to be worse than they actually are.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, An Apatow apologist. LOL!

Well said. I too think this film benefited from the idea that there aren't many (any) female comedies and even fewer which men can enjoy. So I think when people heard that this was female version of The Hangover and that both men and women could like it, they flocked to it.

But it's not that.

In fact, the real key is in what you say in your second point: It was a male comedy starring females. That is exactly what this film was. The jokes were very male in the sense that the characters acted like the males from every other "zany male buddy comedy" film, their personalities were male in nature, and even the punchlines didn't ring true as the kinds of things women actually say or believe. Essentially, it was like someone took the script for "Dude, I'm Getting Married" and switched the genders and moved a couple of the locations.

On your list, I think you've actually done a pretty good job of pointing out actual female comedies, and ones which did draw large male audiences as well. I think the lesson is that women acting as women can sell films.

Finally, you're right that this wasn't raunchy, it was fake raunchy. Everything in it was about sex, but the jokes were tame and not startling enough to qualify as a raunchy comedy.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I'll tell you something else, for the money this film brought in, I really expected something more. It's rare that the public spends so much on so little.

And as an interesting aside, Apatow actually describes this film now as "significant." Give me a break.

ScottDS said...

I'm at work so I'll have more to chime in with later...

... but, despite my problems with Apatow, I actually liked this one. What offended me was the critical reaction:

a.) The reaction whenever a woman does something funny. I don't get it. Yes, Hollywood has a little sexism problem but get over it! Again, we get all the idiot talking heads wondering, "What does this mean for today's woman? What would the early feminists think?" Who gives a shit?! Some women are funny, others are not. Same thing applies to men! (I realize this subject is probably a little more complex than that.)

b.) The reaction to Melissa McCarthy's character. My God, it reeked of nothing more than "Hey, look at the funny fat woman!" Some critics even thought she deserved an Oscar nomination. For what?!

Ed said...

tryanmax, You put your finger right on it -- this was a male comedy pretending to be a female comedy. I never once felt like I was watching real women providing female humor. To the contrary, the jokes all seemed like they were written by a man who doesn't really know women. So take the bridal shop, for example. I'm sure there are many things women could do that would be very funny in a bridal shop. But the only two jokes you get are Annie trying to find the cheapest dress (something a boyfriend might do) and then the food poisoning joke -- five minutes of people vomitting. Where is the insight into the female psyche in any of that?

ScottDS said...

And I have no problem with a raunchy comedy starring females but I can't entirely disagree with tryanmax either.

ScottDS said...

Ed -

Kristen Wiig and a friend of hers wrote the film but the vomit stuff was - you guessed it - Apatow's idea. From what I understand, Wiig's original idea was a fantasy scene like something out of a romance novel, but Apatow decided to go for the low-hanging fruit instead.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I did not enjoy this at all. In fact, I think it was one of the worst projects Apatow has been connected with. That said, I agree with you about the critics.

But that's political correctness run amok. Hollywood has a huge problem with women, despite the fact it pushes feminist propaganda time and again. So whenever they can show off something "done by a woman" they beat that horse to death hoping to get people to see them pro-woman. It's the same instinct like when Republicans find a black guy they can hold up as an example or leftists find a businessman they can hold up as an example.

I totally agree on McCarthy's character. The point to her character seemed to be the very cliched "look at the fat chick who like sex." Ha ha. And the critics ran with this like it was some kind of miracle instead of just another trope.

Ed said...

Scott, That was a huge mistake then. The whole scene ended up being a waste and it was probably the scene which most made me think that women had nothing to do with this film. Wiigs idea would have been better.

In terms of writing it, I know that Wiig wrote it, but she certainly didn't write it with any insight into being a woman. It sounds more like she wrote it with the idea of doing what other male comedies like this have done only staring a woman.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, That scene bothered me too. First, it struck me as ridiculous that the whole point to the scene was how cheap she is. Why even take her to this exclusive place if she can't afford to buy anything there? Secondly, the cheap joke ran way too long. Third, the scene crawls with self-pity. Fourth, the vomiting was a real turn off. I don't enjoy watching people vomit on film and I certainly don't enjoy watching it for five minutes. Fifth, it was nonsense that she wouldn't admit it was food poisoning. That's again a moment where the character is not reacting as a real person would. Six, it was a wasted opportunity for the very reason you said -- this was the perfect moment for a little insight into "feminine humor." Instead, we get vomit.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I think tryanmax's point is very insightful. This wasn't a female comedy so much as a male comedy staring females. Make them all men, call it Bachelor Party, and swap the dress scene for a tuxedo shop and nobody would have noticed anything unusual.

Why am I not surprised that Apatow's contribution to this film would be to remove things which probably would have been funny and substitute something which absolutely wasn't?

AndrewPrice said...

Ed and Scott, I agree with Ed. Wiig and her friend may have written it, but it's not written from the female perspective, it's a copy of male films. Compare this with anything on tryanmax's list or something like Adventures in Babysitting, where you have something relevant to women and the jokes explore the angst of that experience. Here the bridesmaid activities are merely a setting for the kinds of humor a teenage male would think would be funny at those moments.

tryanmax said...

Ed, I would counter your earlier statement by simply saying that I don't really expect any insight into the female psyche from a comedy like Bridesmaids, but I do expect it to be reflective of what I already know about the female psyche. And again, I know that women aren't made of taffeta and poop rainbows.

tryanmax said...

Bachelor Party. Perfect! Some one should do a frame-by-frame remake of Bridesmaids except with the relevant gender swaps just to prove a point.

Ed said...

tryanmax, That's not quite what I mean. What I mean is more along the lines of the word "angst" Andrew just used. I've known enough women in my life to know that they have different experiences than men and they find different things troubling. I would hope that a female comedy would highlight some of those.

Look for example at 9 to 5 which pointed out the office place from the perspective of how women were treated and how they thought they could make the world better. Those were very female ideas from a female perspective. Or look at Adventures in Babysitting which is all about the angst of this babysitter losing control of the kids in her charge in a huge way. It wasn't a chase film staring a babysitter, it was a film about the things which freak out babysitters -- extreme yes, but still on point.

Then compare that to Bridesmaids where we got nothing related to the kinds of stresses, angst or ludicruousnesses of the bridesmaid experience. After watching that film, I feel like I know nothing more about that experience.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, It would be very easy to just swap the genders and a few gender-specific moments, like swapping the dress shop for a tuxedo shop. I don't recall anything in this film which couldn't just be flipped in that way, i.e. no female specific moments.

Even bride freaking out about the wedding and running away could be the groom because the basis for her freaking out is "this is a big step." (i.e. fear of commitment -- a male stereotype)

The problem, of course, is that the film would bomb if you flipped the gender because without the novelty of a female-comedy, people would judge the comedy on its merits and it really doesn't have any in that regard.

AndrewPrice said...

Ed, I agree with your point. I think those other films were interesting precisely because they were different, and they were different because they had a new angle we hadn't seen before -- seeing the world from the perspective of the female characters. I don't get that at all out of this film.

tryanmax said...

Ed, I see what you're saying now. Yes, a vital part of comedy is downplaying those things that would otherwise embarrass. Some things are very universal, like losing control of a formal situation. But many more things are very gender-specific. Men and women are embarrassed by different things.

AndrewPrice said...

By the way, "poop rainbows" is pretty funny. LOL!

tryanmax said...

Andrew, you wouldn't find it funny if you were a constipated unicorn.

Ed said...

tryanmax, Exactly. And I don't feel like we got anything in this film which was specific to women relating to each other or how they relate to the bridesmaid experience. It was like watching a doctor comedy that never once delved into the kinds of things doctors find funny, frustrating, angsty, etc.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I'm sure I wouldn't. Or if only one color came at a time.

Doc Whoa said...

I would be curious to hear what women thought of this film because I saw it much like you all saw it -- a dull comedy that wasn't any different than anything else Apatow does.

T-Rav said...

I have several thoughts on this movie. One, while I have never seen it, I have heard from many people who liked it about some of the "jokes" it included, and thought they were disgusting. Having diarrhea all over wedding gowns? Really?

Second, I have never really liked Kristen Wiig. She had some talent on SNL, but only some--some of her skits worked for me, others didn't--and it was nowhere near enough for her to try and build it into a movie career. I'm going to take a bit to post my other thoughts because they might get me into a little trouble.

AndrewPrice said...

Doc, Hopefully we'll find out. Maybe women saw something different in it?

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Except for the vomit, this was a surprisingly tame comedy. Most of the jokes were just that these women are oversexed (not that most of them really did anything about it).

I agree about Wiig. I just don't find her that talented. She can be ok in some roles, but she's certainly not strong enough to lead a movie. In that regard, she continues a long SNL tradition of turning out people who just don't have "it". I would actually equate her to Will Ferrell, who I find just as uncharismatic and untalented on film.

Doc Whoa said...

T-Rav, I can't wait to hear you trouble-causing thoughts. LOL! :)

Doc Whoa said...

Andrew and T-Rav, I don't care much for Wiig either. I don't think she horrible or anything, but she strikes me as very much best kept in a supporting role.

AndrewPrice said...

Doc, I don't really like or dislike Wiig. To me, she just is and I don't see her as strong enough to lead a movie. In fact, in this one, I think McCarthy would have been better as the lead. The film would need to be re-written to make that work, but she had the stronger personality on screen.

T-Rav said...

Okay, maybe it's not all that bad. I just--I don't think women should do the same kind of raunchy stuff as men. Call me a sexist, and I'm not saying women can't do comedy at all, because many can, but the kind of bodily humor jokes men frequently employ in their stand-up and in male-oriented comedies just don't translate well when females do them. Whether you think this is a good or bad thing, women continue to have a reputation for being a bit more high-minded, or pure, or whatever you want to call them. To take that image, and then throw in the stuff that happens in Bridesmaids--I don't know, it seems rather incongruous.

Plus, I have a hard time figuring out what Wiig and others were trying to prove here. That they can do gross humor as well as the guys can? Well, yeah, I guess you can, but why would you want to?

Rainbow Poopers said...

T-Rav, You sexist.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I get your point. I actually find the whole idea of the gross out comedy to be pretty unappealing and I guess it doesn't bother me any more when women do it than when men do it -- I just don't care for it either way as I see it as low hanging fruit.

But I get your point too. There are different expectations upon the sexes, whether feminists like it or not. Whether women staying out of gross out comedies is one of those differences, I can't say. I guess the $288 million the public spent says otherwise. But I see your point and I share some of your views on this.

What bothers me more about this film, however, is what tryanmax and Ed have put their fingers on -- this isn't a film about women, it's film about men being acted out by women. These characters are deeply unfeminine in every respect.

Also, to be clear, this isn't much of a gross out film. This is more an oversexed film with a couple gross moments.

Tennessee Jed said...

your analysis is vastly more interesting than this film would appear to be. Over the years, we have all had a good laugh at totally sophomoric humor. If one is in the right mood, Dumb & Dumber can make you laugh yourself silly. I certainly enjoyed Airplane and the Frank Drebben series.

But, this is not my favorite genre. Heck, even Lampoon's Christmas Vacation has come to a point where I can no longer view it every year and still enjoy it. I thought Bachelor Party sucked. I never laughed (well maybe once or twice, but that is unacceptable for a feature length comedy.)

Maybe it is a generational thing, maybe there is some kind of bias at which I can't point a finger, but the name Judd Apatow turns me off immediately. I know there was never a danger I would remotely even think of viewing it. When one of the actresses was nominated for supporting actress and I saw a clip, this looked like some sort of women's version of the dreaded bong fart joke movie. When I flip a light switch, Ineed not know how it works to enjoy the light. While I probably didn't specifically NEED your analysis to know this one would suck, I surely did enjoy reading why :)

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Actually, you and I have similar tastes in this regard. In the right mood, the sophomoric stuff can be fun. But it's not my favorite genre. And Apatow has really come to turn me off. Not only do I not find gross-out humor very funny, but that's all he offers and it's not even clever.

Take the vomit scene for example. There's no clever set up. There's no huge pay off. It's not handled well or uniquely. It's just five people vomiting for a couple minutes. That's just not funny. Apparently the public disagrees, but we'll see. I don't think any of Apatow's films will survive very long in the coming decades.

ellenB said...

Sorry guys, I can't help you. I didn't see it. The commercials didn't interest me in the slightest.

AndrewPrice said...

That's ok Ellen! :)

T-Rav said...

Sorry, Rainbow Poopers. Now get back in the kitchen!

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I agree, gross-out movies in general don't interest me. Some of the guy comedies I like, though, are a bit raunchy (Tommy Boy, for instance), so that's why I went ahead and pled guilty to the sexism thing. Seriously, though, it sounds like I'm demanding a double standard, and I guess maybe I am, but it's really to pay women a compliment. They're supposed to restrain us guys a bit, not join in the debauchery.

The comments over this movie remind me of what some people said about Sex and the City: "They're not women, they're gay men posing as women." Never watched it, but I did get that vibe from what I knew of it.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, You must be very popular with the ladies. LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I hadn't heard that about Sex in the City, but it wouldn't surprise me in the least. I get a similar vibe because I've never met any women who act like that.

Yeah, you're talking about a double standard, but that's your right and I think a lot of people would agree with that. Not to mention, we should be working as a society to make men better, not women worse.

tryanmax said...

My opinion is that even the sophomoric stuff can be exceedingly and repeatably funny if it's set up right. (The bean eating scene from Blazing Saddles anyone?) The problem with a lot of films like Bridesmaids is they make the mistake of thinking body humor can be funny for its own sake.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I can absolutely be funny. But a whole movie premised on gross-out gags gets really old. Even in a film like Airplane, you still had a decent plot and other gags. And like you say, the problem is that they think the body humor is funny for it's own sake, when it really needs to be part of something.

LawHawkRFD said...

I never saw the movie, largely because I don't find Apatow the least bit funny. Those few films of his that I've seen at best had one or two funny bits. It sounds like I made a wise decision in avoiding this one. I think James Franco has moments where he is hilariously funny, and I'm still a fan of Freaks and Geeks, but that just isn't enough. I find most of his regulars and nearly all of his characters since Freaks lewd, crude, repulsive, and most of all, unfunny.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I'm in the same boat, I just don't find Apatow's stuff (or stuff like his stuff) funny. There might be a moment or two where I laugh, but certainly nothing to sustain an entire movie. And since I don't like his characters or his plots, that doesn't really leave a lot. And this may not have been a true Apatow film in the sense that he didn't get the writing credit and he didn't direct it, but it sure felt like it and he definitely had his fingerprints all over it.

tryanmax said...

Hmmm, take a look at the poster and tell me if you notice anything remarkable about Melissa McCarthy's dress.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, She's the only one who doesn't show her shoulders. Is that your point?

tryanmax said...

That and the skirt is longer. I thought it was so wonderful to have a large lady in a starring role, but apparently only if she's covered up more than the other characters.

AndrewPrice said...

And if you'll recall from the film, they seem to work hard to dress her like a butch lesbian throughout. I actually thought that's what the character was supposed to be at first, a crude, butch lesbian, until she started hitting on every man she could find.

As an aside, I'm a big fan of non-skinny women in prominent roles as well. I like normal people and I want to see them on film. I'm sick of the world Hollywood presents where everyone looks like a 20 year old twig with too much plastic surgery. Seriously, give me normal people any day.

tryanmax said...

I just find it interesting that a film that supposedly brought down so many barriers couldn't even manage to let the big girl show a little shoulder or knee. Pathetic.

AndrewPrice said...

Well, that's Hollywood for you. Look at the number of number of times the ugly duckling story uses someone really pretty, or the lack of black actors in the lead roll in mainstream films. Hollywood love to talk about breaking barriers, but it's all talk.

Libertarian Advocate said...

If you didn't like "Bridesmaids" (and I didn't), you'll hate "To Rome with Love." Just awful.

AndrewPrice said...

Libertarian Advocate, I haven't seen that. In fact, I'm not even sure I've heard of it?

BevfromNYC said...

Personlly, I thought that this movie was an insult to women. Apparently part of the modern idea of equality and liberation of women is to be equal to men in crude and offensive behavior. Yea, us...

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Bev! I was kind of wondering what women thought of this film. :)

I agree with you, by the way. This film implies that women need to become the worst parts of men to be equal and I think that's a pretty despicable message.

I'm wondering now, however, who actually liked this film? (except Scott)

BevfromNYC said...

Sadly, Andrew - Many young women loved this movie or at least were told that they should LOVE this movie because it was made by women for women and about women. That was the big hook really. Frankly that is why I watch it, but was just saddened that it wasn't even clever! And like many things that are supposed to be popular, no one wanted to say - Yuck! and be branded a "uncool". I have no such fear. I wasn't cool even when it was cool not to be cool. Also I am a natural born contrarian anyway...

But Scott, it's okay if you liked it. I like Howard the Duck! What can I say...I really did.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Sorry to hear about your lack of coolness. But being a contrarian is pretty cool in my book. It's takes a lot more strength to go against the crowd than it does to go with it.

I can see that, that young girls would have been told they were supposed to love this film because it was "for them." It's too bad they couldn't have been given something which deserved to be admired. :(

I need to rewatch Howard the Duck. I haven't seen it in 20+ years and I didn't like it at the time, but perhaps I was wrong as a good number of people now say they enjoyed the film.

tryanmax said...

I wonder if part of the reason why women comics feel the need to mimic males to be funny comes from a fundamental misunderstanding of why guys find gross-out humor funny. It's not because we are proud of being gross. If anything, it's because we know we're gross and kinda hopeless about it, so it helps to laugh at people grosser than us. I don't get the sense that women are generally worried about being gross. If anything, most women seem to revel in the firm knowledge that they are the more pleasant sex.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That's a good question. I've always thought what makes comedy work is the discomfort factor. Indeed, most humor seems to be based on putting people into an uncomfortable position which the audience can sympathize with. Like a stress release sort of thing. Or, in some case, just a shock sort of thing.

I think what I don't find funny about gross out humor is that (1) it's too easy as humor goes, (2) it's rarely original -- oh boy, he ate dog poop last time, now he's eating camel poop ha ha ha that's sooooo different, and (3) most of these jokes are so over the top that I can't accept them as real, i.e. they feel mighty contrived.

And when I see a group of women doing the exact same gross out routines as the loser-males, I find it even harder to relate because in my experience, women just don't do the same gross things we do... they do other things. ;)

Plus, there is another key difference. The women in these comedies always want to be seen as winners before it's over. But the men in gross out comedies are losers and we all know that. So there's kind of a disconnect between the women acting like losers but then claiming to be winners, if that makes sense?

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I get the feeling people say they like Howard the Duck only because it's acquired that air true bombs sometimes have. "It's so bad, it's good!" I could be wrong, of course, but that's how it seems to me.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I basically just remember it not make much of an impression on me. And since it was Lucas, who was still credible back then, I was surprised.

Then people started hating it later. I don't recall hating it. And by now, it's become kind of the "in thing" to hate.

So I should probably take another look.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Thanks for the review Andrew!

Based on the previews I just couldn't (and still can't) muster up enough interest to watch this movie.

I mean, if none of the previews are funny from an alleged comedy, that's a bad sign.

I get what T-Rav was saying and I concur. I like seeing women act like women and men act like men.

There is, afterall, a difference between men and women, despite what the feminazis want us to believe.
Several differences, as a matter of fact.
And both can be funny in different ways (I know, I've been married for 31 years).

Sure, there can be a bit of overlap here n' there, comedy wise, but generally speaking there are differences and those differences can be funny and they can be funny when they compliment each other as well (The Thin Man series is a good example of this, or see several Cary Grant flicks for more examples).

BTW, I have mentioned it before but it bears repeating since Bev mentioned it: I'm a huge Howard The Duck fan!

BevfromNYC said...

Howard the Duck may have been a really stupid premise, but it was well done and fairly believable actors. As opposed to THE worst film ever made - Showgirls, followed by close second - Bonfire of the Vanities. Both were just dreadful scripts and acting.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, You're welcome. I know what you mean about the previews and I'm running into that a lot these days where I see the previews for a comedy and I just don't laugh. And since those are presumably the best parts, how bad must the rest be?

Congrats on being married 31 years! :)

I too think that men and women are different and I prefer to see them act differently rather than trying shoehorn everyone into the same mold. But Hollywood is huge on shoehorning everyone into the exact same mold.

How did we get so many Howard the Duck fans? LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Showgirls was hideous! A friend conned me into seeing that and I could barely finish. I never did see Bonfire of the Vanities.

I think I will definitely watch Howard the Duck again, so I can join this secret club you all have! :)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Andrew: I'll hafta check the bylaws but I believe you must watch Howard The Duck at least two times (and like it) before you can be considered for membership in our secret club, LOL.

We do have a reputation and high standards to uphold so we can't just let anyone join. I'm sure you understand. :^)

AndrewPrice said...

LOL! Thanks Ben, I'll make sure to watch it twice. ;)

T-Rav said...

Which one is Showgirls? Is that the one with post-Shrek Eddie Murphy in it?

tryanmax said...

Ooh Ooh! Can I be in the Howard the Duck club? I haven't watched it since I was a kid, but I loved it then!

On another note, try this on for size: I was just flipping channels and I landed on TLC, Say Yes to the Dress. That $#!+ is hilarious! Kristin Wiig could have just lifted 20 min of that show for the wedding dress scene and it would have been way better.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Showgirls is a 1995 film by Paul Verhoeven. It's known mainly for being atrocious and for having one of the Saved By The Bell girls (Elizabeth Berkely... "Jessie Spano") get partially naked.

Here's the wikipedia link: LINK

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, You too?! Am I the only person here who didn't like Howard the Duck? I'm getting the feeling I'm missing something.

I have not seen that show on TLC, but I could bet it would be funnier than this film. Real life often is, especially when real life is enhanced with writers.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, to be fair, I did include a caveat to my admiration. However, I'm sure nostalgia is enough to make me like it if I see it again. If memory serves me, I think it is one of the most undeservedly panned movies ever made. That doesn't mean it's great, just not as bad as it's been made out to be. Of course, the decades of intervening shite could make anything look better.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I kind of wonder about that myself, whether it might not be unfairly maligned because of expectations. At that point, you had Star Wars and Empire and you knew he had been involved in Raiders, people really expected a lot. And then here comes this film. So people were very disappointed because they expected to be blown away.

And then he had a series of flops, which seemed to magnify each of the prior failures as well.

So maybe the film is unfairly maligned? I'm not sure as I haven't seen it in 20 years.

Firefly said...

I really tried to like this movie. There were so many people who were telling me how absolutely hilarious it was. (Background - I have an appreciation for good humorous movies that do not rely on scatological garbage for ensuring laughs and guffaws. Airplane/Naked Gun, Monty Python, the Marx Brothers, Animal House, The Thin Man, etc. - open mind towards what can be construed as funny). This was not funny. There were maybe one or two funny moments -fleeting - but I did not give a darn about any of these women. Yes, they were just as disgusting and crass as the guys.... whoop-dee-freakin-doo. How is this funny? The only good exploding bowels scene (so to speak) is in Blazing Saddles, around the campfire, with Mongo and the boys.

AndrewPrice said...

Firefly, That's exactly how I felt. I figured there had to be something to like because so many people seemed to like the film. So I really did want to like it, but I just couldn't. Except for a couple brief moments, this film just wasn't funny, and like you, I absolutely didn't care about these women in the least.

EricP said...

Love the mention of Mean Girls, tyranmax! God help me for writing what seems a backhanded compliment, but as a lover of 30 Rock despite itself, Kristen Wiig is no Tina Fey.

Andrew, even though I found myself laughing uproariously a few times (thank you, Ms. McCarthy, still dig your takedown of Bridesmaids!

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Eric. LOL! I'm sure Tina Fey will be happy to hear that! :)

And I agree that there were a couple laugh out loud moments -- typically involving McCarthy, whose characters for me was the highlight (along with the cop).

As an aside, I loved Mean Girls. That was a movie that just grabbed my interested throughout because the story and characters were so well done, and it's jokes were really funny. It's sad what's become of Lindsey Lohan since then because she really was excellent.

ScottDS said...

Man, I missed a lot!

Nice to see a fellow 30 Rock fan who doesn't think Tina Fey is going to Hell "for what she did to poor Sarah." :-) (Seriously, she was just doing her job as a satirist/comedy writer.... blame the media whores for treating her like royalty all of a sudden and blame SNL for not treating Obama the same way.)

Howard the Duck isn't completely terrible. I just watched the Nostalgia Critic's review and it brought back some memories, though I admit I only saw the film in its entirety when the DVD was released a few years ago. It's... bizarre, as only an 80s movie can be but you know what's really funny? The movie was based on a comic book but there can never be another adaptation of it. No other filmmaker can give it a shot - Lucas ruined the brand forever!

Showgirls... I've seen... well, the important parts, anyway. ;-) "Partially naked"?!?! She gets totally naked, several times, including a sex scene where her climax looks more like a seizure! If you want to laugh, check out the edited-for-TV version where the censors airbrushed bikinis onto the women during the nude dance numbers. The movie is completely gutted on TV and Verhoeven took his name off it. I hope the studio got a lot of money for the TV rights.

As for Bridesmaids, again, I actually liked it but I can't entirely disagree with anything mentioned here. Re: the dress/vomit scene, I think the idea was that it was all Wiig's fault. If I recall, she insisted on going to a cheap restaurant, hence the food poisoning. I knew it was coming and I guess the idea was, "I can't do anything right" or "I can't seem to impress the new rich friend."

Re: the story arc, this may not apply here but there's really nothing wrong with not having a character improve. Some people are just idiots and they always will be. I suppose the problem that's all too common today comes from giving characters redemption who don't deserve it but I recall Seinfeld's famous rule: "No hugging, no learning." It worked for them, but they also suffered the consequences of their actions, too, which is why I'm baffled when people label the show "nihilistic." They were more often than not miserable but it was their own doing and there was no false 3rd act "Everything will be okay" plot development.

Take the movie Bad Teacher (please!). Cameron Diaz doesn't earn jackshit in that film, yet she somehow comes out on top. She doesn't deserve it and I hated the film for it.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I was being polite about Showgirls. :)

I understand the idea behind the vomit scene, but it's a stupid idea. They took what should have been a key moment for comedy and they turned it into "the payoff" (if you can call it that) for the prior scene. That's a total waste. And that's the story of this film -- wasted opportunities, shallow jokes.

On the arc, you are correct... there is nothing wrong with not having a character improve. BUT you need to write the story that way. A great example is Army of Darkness where Ash improves at key moments but then immediately slips right back into who he has always been. But the story recognizes this and uses it to drive the jokes. Bridesmaids is set up for her to improve, she goes through the motions, and then the story acts like she has improved, even though she hasn't. That's really the problem. If they had been clever, they would have recognized this and exploited it's humor potential. But they didn't. And I think the reason is that Apatow/Wiig don't see what's wrong with her character in the first place. It was the same thing with Green Hornet -- they never realized he wasn't "funny, cute" he was cruel and obnoxious. I suspect Team Apatow doesn't understand the difference.

I haven't seen Bad Teacher, but it looks exactly like you describe it.

EricP said...

Again, despite my better judgement, I liked Bad Teacher, quite a bit actually. Probably because of its many politically incorrect scenes, a novelty these days, including a nice little slap at Obama voters.

AndrewPrice said...

Eric, I haven't seen it so I can't comment. Slapping Obama voters would be nice though! :)

CrispyRice said...

Haven't seen it... don't intend to... but your point about whacky characters made me think of Rat Race. Now there is a funny movie, full of whacky character, each of whom you really, really like. (And some of whom don't seem so whacky at first, but just wait 'til they get going!)

AndrewPrice said...

Crispy, I think Rat Race is an excellent comparison. In Rat Race, the characters seem normal at first and their craziness comes out under stress. Moreover, their craziness fits in to the story throughout, it doesn't come out of the blue, and it affects their actions. In Bridesmaids, the craziness is the kind of craziness that feels fake, like someone just came up with the craziest thing they could think of for each character, and it never fit the story, it just was, like a stand alone joke.

PikeBishop said...

I felt the film was schizophrenic. It didn't know where it wanted to go or what it wanted to be, so to me it was very disjointed. Was it a basic chick flick? Rom-Com? Female Hangover? Its all over the place. I think the problem is that Wiig wrote her character too well. I reallly felt bad for Annie, and while two of the Hangover scenes were kind of funny (dress fitting and airplane) when she tears up the Bridal Shower in the third setpiece I just cringed. I felt bad for her, and it points out that the real villain is not Helen, but the bride. Her friend is suffering, being unemployed among other things and she expects her to spend all this money on the wedding. How clueless can you get.

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, I agree with you. First, the film did feel schizophrenic as the movie did try to be too many different things at different times.

Secondly, I largely agree about Wiig/Annie. I didn't like her for most of the movie. I thought the self-pity was annoying rather than sympathetic and I thought her being cheap wasn't funny so much as it was very movie-fake. But the real bad guy was the bride who seemed completely indifferent to Annie's problems. Not to mention, she seems to have abandoned her life-long friend for this new rich friend for no apparent reason.

And like you, I cringed during the shower, which was just uncomfortable rather than funny.

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