Last night, with my husband out of town and my babysitter available, I went on a date with a fabulous friend and (finally) saw Bridesmaids. I may be the last lady on earth to see it, but that doesn't matter, I enjoyed it and I'm going to give a few reasons why.
First, of course, it's very, very funny. Second, it's funny. Third, Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph, they look like women I know. Sure, Kristin Wiig is tall and skinny, but she's tall and skinny in that noodle-icious way that says, to me, at least, that she was born that way and will die that way and sure she probably works out, but she's no Jennifer Aniston-I-lost-20-pounds-when-I-was-on-Friends-so-I-could-be-in-movies. But I don't want to talk about her tallness or skinniness, I want to talk about her skin. It has wrinkles! When she smiles or frowns, you can see them, all around her mouth, by her eyes, they're All Over Her Face! That means her face looks like the faces of women I actually know. Like me! It was such a relief. As for Maya Rudolph, she's no Jennifer Aniston-I-lost-20-pounds-so-I-could-be-in-movies either. No. She, too, looks like women I know. Her breasts are full and so is her body and there was not even one muscle in her arms. Not one! Mine either!
Then there's a scene at the very beginning of the movie when Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph have breakfast and watching it for me was so familiar. Granted, I'm not as funny as Wiig or Rudolph, but over a short stack and eggs, the two woman showed us that precious safe harbor women can make for each other; the fear of its loss upon marriage is real and, in my experience, not without foundation. It's not that the connection goes away (although sometimes it does, quite brutally), it's that in married life, there's so little time to hang around that harbor of old friendship. Meals end, kids must be picked up, events must be attended, things have to happen.
Back in May, I read an essay about Bridesmaids by Michelle Dean in The Awl. In it she argues that Bridesmaids is really, really not a feminist movie for all kinds of reasons. Part of me wants to rebut her point by point, but a bigger part of me wants to say, "Meh, and?" There are a few other scenes between Wiig and Rudolph besides the breakfast scene which felt very true to me, and scenes -- did I say this already? -- that are very funny, in both broad and specific ways. So the movie isn't a big feminist breakthrough -- it's a big Hollywood movie that follows the act structure a Hollywood movie demands. But it also shows at least pieces of a deep relationship between two women that doesn't end with one or both of them dead. (Thelma and Louise, Entre Nous, Still Life with Angels - does it matter that two out of three of those movies are French?) Sure, it's not exactly a full-on feminist breakthrough, but it's not Pretty Woman, either.