Bridesmaids was funny. Super funny. Super duper funny. And it was about funny women! And it was written by funny women! And even better -- it was a success! A "smash success" as they call it -- so much so, there are now like 900 gazillion articles popping up everywhere all about how this is huge for female-driven comedies -- which it is -- but like, "this is it!" everyone seems to be saying, "Women can be funny and do stuff guys are doing and here's the proof!" (You'd think we'd broken new ground in the women's lib movement or something!)
I'm thrilled that Bridesmaids did so well at the box office its opening weekend. I'm relieved to see the many positive reviews. I'm happy I laughed my way through the entire film and maybe even spit out some popcorn at one point because of said laughing. As a woman, a writer and an aspiring comedienne, I'm genuinely a big fan of the film.
Okay but (you knew there was a "but" coming, didn't you?), the thing is, I have a problem with Bridesmaids. Specifically, with Kristen Wiig's character, Annie. Now don't get me wrong -- as I've attempted to drill into your brains like four sentences ago -- I really, really loved Bridesmaids and I think Kristen Wiig is a great actress. Wiig made Annie three-dimensional and real and fully fleshed-out and I think that's rare in female characters depicted on-screen these days. I loved that Annie was quirky and eccentric -- those are qualities that women in romantic comedies are often described to be, but rarely does that translate; it seems like "quirky" is just Katherine Heigl in every romcom from the past five years. In other words -- annoying. In Bridesmaids, Wiig's quirkiness is fun and endearing and contributes so much to the authenticity of her character. It's refreshing.
However, Annie is a mess. Her life is in shambles and underneath her jokes and sarcasm is an obviously depressed woman. She's self-absorbed, has low self-esteem and wallows in self-pity. I get that her emotional state is important to the character arc and story of Bridesmaids. I get that she sort of needs to hit rock bottom (in fact hitting rock bottom is referenced. Twice). I get it... but at the same time... does she? Does she really need to be such a mess?
Why can't this girl be weird and quirky and eccentric and funny AND also successful and on top of her shit and just all around awesome? I want to see a female character in a movie who is hilarious and odd but also smart as a whip and super successful; someone we can laugh at but also aspire to be -- someone we genuinely like. In Bridesmaids, Annie is close to being that character and while Kristen Wiig absolutely nails the part, ultimately, she's not all that likable. And shouldn't a woman be funny and likeable? Isn't it about time that the funny female characters in movies and television shows make us laugh but also make us really, really like them? I think so, and while Bridesmaids is a great starting point, if anything, I hope the film's success doesn't merely support the notion that women can be funny, but ignites a trend of female-driven entertainment that shows that not only can we laugh at women, but we can like them too.