It’s a movie about women who get into fights with each other over a wedding. We’ve seen it before, right? Quite a few times, in fact. We’ve seen it enough times that although we know a tight script and charming performances can make the story enjoyable, we also know that girl fights and the idea that a wedding day is the most important day of any woman’s life can be jarring to feminist sensibilities.
So why am I getting ridiculously psyched about Bridesmaids and what it means for women in comedy? Look at that line-up:
- Melissa McCarthy started her career as a PA on her cousin Jenny’s sketch comedy show and as a stand-up comic. Then, she was on “Gilmore Girls” — you know, that show lauded for its quippy dialogue, ability to balance heart with comedy, and dense collection of fully realized background characters. Now she’s on one of the highest-rated sitcoms in the country (love it or hate it, it’s TRUE). McCarthy has comedy cred.
- Wendi McLendon-Covey was a member of the Groundlings from 2002-2009. So, she has straight up improv comedy cred. Add to that her time on “Reno 911!,” and we’re talking obscene comedy cred.
- Ellie Kemper started doing improv at Princeton and then went on to be in Big Black Car at the P.I.T. in NYC. You guys know Big Black Car, right? Kristen Schaal, Kurt Braunohler, and Matt Oberg’s troop. Everyone on that team is an improv god. Oh, yeah, she’s also on “The Office.” Kemper has serious comedy cred.
- Kristen Wiig. Um … do I need to start? Groundlings, “Saturday Night Live,” bit parts in numerous Apatow productions and other comedies. She’s considered by many to be the star of “Saturday Night Live” right now. Wiig clearly has massive comedy cred.
- Maya Rudolph. Again with the Groundlings and again with “Saturday Night Live.” Do I even need to affirm Rudolph’s comedy cred?
- Rose Byrne. The lone dramatic actress in the bunch. However, she is an amazing character actress and character actors usually acquit themselves brilliantly with comedy. She already did with her Lily Allen-meets-Cheryl Cole impression in Get Him to the Greek. Byrne doesn’t have comedy cred, per se, but she’s got credibility.
Why did I spell all this out? Because we’re looking at the first ensemble female comedy that boasts an ensemble of female comedians. These are not pretty ingénues put in a high school comedy with a couple of supporting assists from “SCTV” alums. This is a pantheon of comedy goddesses. Yes, Fey & Poehler did Baby Mama, but that’s a buddy film. Yes, I’m aware of a film called Spring Breakdown, but it was released straight to DVD. Look at this poster. The producers mean business. They mean for this to be as big a summer comedy as Wedding Crashers, The Hangover, or Knocked Up.
I had to write an article recently about the issue of female comedies and why a lot of them are dismissed as chick flicks by the comedy mainstream. During my research (which was super serious and involved drinking a lot of wine while watching movies while wearing a fish hat) I realized that maybe the reason a lot of female comedies aren’t given much thought by male comedians is because the actresses in them don’t often come from a comedy background. These women have those chops. Male comics are sitting up and buzzing about this film. So, if this film does do great box office, it’ll show that women who come from stand up, improv and “SNL” can star in comedies and pull in the same money that male stars from those backgrounds do. Which means … more female comedians in starring roles in comedies. Big deal, guys. HUGE. The film could be about knitting circles or a finishing school. I wouldn’t care. The very existence of this film is a pro-female statement.
So, that’s why I’m crossing my fingers and holding my breath that Bridesmaids is an incredibly funny film. It should be. I mean, look at that talent. These women could hiccup hilariously on camera together for two hours and it would be amazing. More importantly, I’m hoping that people turn up to see it. I’m hoping that the box office receipts reflect the talent involved because, in Hollywood, money makes the big decisions. So, I know already no matter how broke I am come May 13, 2011, that I’m going to see this film in the theaters. Anyone else want to join me?
Meghan O'Keefe is a comedian in NYC. She covers this topic and more at megsokay.tumblr.com