Bridesmaids is about women and emotions but it’s not a chick flick…and it’s really funny

maureen

Bridesmaids is a funny and somewhat crass look at friendship and competition among women involved in a wedding. Often a wedding party is made up of people who may not socialize together. When a group of women don’t know one another well but end up in an intimate social situation like a wedding insecurities are bound to surface. It’s already an emotionally charged event. I thought Bridesmaids was a refreshingly honest look at some of the ways weddings can heighten insecurities and make women crazy.

Lilian’s bridesmaids are Anne, her childhood friend, Helen, the wealthy wife of her fiancé’s boss, who has become a close friend, Becca, a newlywed co-worker, Megan, the groom’s sister, and Rita, Lillian’s cousin who is a dissatisfied wife and mother.The status of “best friend” changes over the years so when it comes time to choose the “maid of honor” one of the “best” friends is going to be hurt.

Lilian chooses Anne as maid of honor though she’s concerned that Anne’s recent business failure and break-up might make her role more difficult. Helen immediately begins encroaching on “maid of honor” turf, planning events and making suggestions. Anne resents her and refuses to be squeezed out. The toasts scene in which Anne and Helen compete to prove which one has the closest relationship with Lilian is just priceless.

Body issues are an area where many women feel vulnerable. Helen points out that she’s thinner than Anne. It’s difficult to find a dress that will flatter every bridesmaid. Megan is heavy and socially awkward but refuses to allow herself to feel diminished. I liked that this character, though a bit of a stereotype, was more than a just a caricature of a fat girl. When she tells her story it becomes clear that she is a secure survivor.

It’s expensive to be in a wedding. Helen has no concept of budget and either is insensitive to the strain her suggestions create for Anne or is deliberately trying to undermine her. Either way Lilian seems to be so enthralled with her new, more affluent lifestyle that she ignores Anne’s feelings. Anne feels angry and defeated when she can’t compete with Helen’s over-the-top shower and gifts.

Weddings are reminders of romantic ideals and hopes for the future. Ritaa seems focused on all the disappointments her 12 years of marriage have brought her. She is determined to disillusion newlywed Becca who still has stars in her eyes. Anne is harboring her own disillusionments and disappointments. When her business failed her boyfriend left her. She now finds it hard to trust that any relationship can endure. This is not a supportive attitude for a bridesmaid. Anne also has a hard time expecting something better out of the future. She refuses to believe that just because her bakery failed that she should continue to pursue her passion. She is stuck in her bitterness.

Bridesmaids made me think about how women deal with anger and confrontation. Women who feel threatened will often be passive-aggressive, competitive, catty, or undermining. Direct confrontation feels like a risk since it often comes off as combative or spiteful like Anne’s meltdown at the shower. When Megan confronts Anne it’s still awkward. I thought she did it like a man would. Later Anne and Helen have to confront one another and figure out a way to be friendly if not actual friends. It’s still awkward. Direct confrontation has always been awkward for me. Could that be true of most women?

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