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Bridesmaids Breaks Records But Can’t Escape Femme Sub-Genre

Bridesmaids Breaks Records But Can't Escape Femme Sub-Genre

Thompson on Hollywood

Bridesmaids is breaking records, throwing out the window such tired and outdated movie classification* assumptions as: women aren’t funny and anything centered on women belongs in a femme sub-genre.

While we can celebrate the success of this critical and box office success, which is now the “number one grossing female-oriented qualifier-heavy R-rated comedy of all time,” as well as Universal’s “biggest romantic comedy ever” and producer Judd Apatow’s “top-grossing film ever,” Hollywood’s gender problem is alive and well. All that Bridesmaids‘ attention is still derived from its main characters being — shockingly — women who are both watchable and funny.

For the record, Bridesmaids will continue to be enjoyed as much by men as women (ditto for the top R comedies The Hangover, Wedding Crashers, and There’s Something About Mary). Risk-averse studio execs rely on labels and numbers so that they can better predict monetary risks and rewards. But let’s drop the “female-centered,” “women’s film” nonsense and enjoy a bunch of people who are raunchy, ridiculous and self-loathing. It’s called comedy. Women can make them work for a broader demo. Get over it.

Meanwhile Bridesmaids director Paul Feig is prepping Dumb Jock with Bridesmaids scene-stealers Jon Hamm and Melissa McCarthy. Feig tells Movieline, “it’s just a love story that I’ve always wanted to write, that I think will be really funny, but will play much more real than most quote-unquote romantic comedies.” He’d be happy to do a Bridesmaids sequel but: “It would just have to be as good or better than this one. What you don’t want to do is the one that ruins the memory of the first one.”

*To add some context, other genres in the “women’s film” canon may by the same logic include (as listed within BoxOfficeMojo‘s huge index, that so far does not include a Women’s Comedy sub-genre) Romantic Comedy (top earner: My Big Fat Greek Wedding, $241.4 million domestic), Romantic Drama (Titanic, $600.8 million), Romantic Fantasy and Teen Romance (Twilight Saga: Eclipse, $300.5 million) Romantic Comedy-Fantasy (Splash, $69.8 million), and Summer Girl Power (Freaky Friday, $110.2 million).

Here is a sampling of the response to Bridesmaids‘ record-breaking success:

Feig to Movieline:

“I’m dancing in the streets… My only fear is that the takeaway from this for other people isn’t, ‘They did it gross and dirty, so let’s be ten times as gross and ten times as dirty and we’ll have ten times as big of a hit.’ The takeaway needs to be — because of Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo’s great script — the story. It’s a very engaging real story that we fought very hard in the rewriting process to make sure tracked emotional; that we were telling a very real story in the heart of a sometimes very big comedy. So, what I don’t want is a bunch of other women’s movies get greenlit, and they don’t get done correctly, and then people go, ‘Bridesmaids was just a fluke!’ and they go back to not making movies with women. I really want this to be the seed that sprouts into a very lucrative and successful female-movie market. There should never be again where comedy is looked at like, ‘Oh, you can’t do that because that skews toward women.’ I hope the outcome of this is for people to make the funniest, most emotionally moving comedies they can, and it doesn’t matter if men or women are starring in it. And there’ll be no more filter of like, ‘But it can’t be women!'”

Women and Hollywood on why the record breaking is significant:

“Now why is this significant? It’s significant because nobody believed that this would happen.  Nobody believed that a bunch of funny women could best the stunted male comedies that Judd Apatow (who produced Bridesmaids) is best known for.  Keep in mind that Knocked Up had been Judd Apatow’s top grossing film…until now.  The man who created a new genre of the nerdy misogynistic boy/men which flourished after the success of Knocked Up has seen that genre bested by, yes, women.”

Jezebel on beating Sex & The City to be the new “number one grossing female-oriented qualifier-heavy R-rated comedy of all time”:

“I guess I didn’t realize that Sex & The City was a comedy. I thought it was an allegory and that each of the four female protagonists represented an aspect of the global economy that led to the financial sector implosion in 2008. Carrie represented the frivolity of the American consumer. Miranda, hardworking and determined to do things her own way rather than falling into the trap of tradition and expectation but does so anyway, represents China (plus she’s with Steve, who is easily the North Korea of the Sex & The City universe). Charlotte represents the American government, uptight and unwilling to anger traditionalists. And Samantha represents the slutty American banks, just willing to get in bed with anyone with a non-verifiable source of income or a penis,..At any rate, congratulations to the creators and cast of Bridesmaids and here’s hoping that in the future, Hollywood won’t have to market a female oriented film to the masses by bragging about how it doesn’t suck like all those other movies about women.”

Cinemablend on Bridesmaids being “out of the ordinary”:

“Granted, Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph’s comedy isn’t doing nearly as well overseas, grossing an estimated $34.8 million as opposed to the $262 million earned by Sex and the City (according to Box Office Mojo figures). But Bridesmaids didn’t have the advantage of a long-running HBO series acting as a commercial for the feature-film exploits of Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her Gotham crew. No, instead, Team Bridesmaids did something out of the ordinary: They constructed a fantastic comedy about a well-intentioned but flawed heroine trying to be a decent friend, and waited for crowds to find it. Incredible word of mouth kept audiences coming, helping the film to become not just the highest-grossing R-rated female comedy, but also the highest-grossing film on producer Judd Apatow’s impressive resume,..Logic dictates that Universal will try to squeeze a sequel out of the Bridesmaids crew, as the studio would with virtually any property that performs to this level,..[but] let’s hope Universal opens up the checkbook and asks Wiig to come up with another wildly original idea for these incredibly funny ladies. If you’ve watched her on Saturday Night Live, you know she has a stash of great concepts in her creative well. Give her a chance. She’s more than earned it.”

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