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Always a bridesmaid, never a… wait, no, that’s not true

2 Feb

Bridesmaids.

Am I the only person on the planet who didn’t like Freaks & Geeks?

It feels that way.

Okay, James Franco. There is no denying the appeal there, but even before Seth Rogen became the most over-exposed man in America (after Jonah Hill) I was sorta over him, though I love seeing Sweets from Bones when he was just a little sweetie.

Is it because the show takes place during the exact years I was in high school? Because it wasn’t fun to live the first time? Because it’s so true?

I don’t know.

I think it may be because guys were confusing and impenetrable (is this the best or worst word choice ever?) then, and when I watch it I feel alone – put into the same box that Lindsay is: confused smart girl who wants to achieve, but would really like to be kissed, and is pretty enough to maybe get there but has to compromise herself one way or another to have it all.

Uh?

What was I saying?

Oh, right. Bridesmaids.

So, I’ve only seen the trailer, but I feel like I’ve seen the entire movie (Which is a weird thing with trailers lately, don’t you think? Every plot point and denouement crammed in to 02:20) and I can pretty much guarantee that I won’t see it in theaters, so this isn’t a review as much as a prognostication.

Prognostication #1: I will probably see it, and I will probably laugh.

Prognostication #2: I will not say nice things about it while I’m watching, other than to give Kristen Wiig a few backhanded compliments about what a ridiculous waste she’s making of her career, which will remind me of her character in Ghost Town, which will make me wonder about Ricky Gervais, and will make me want to beg him to write more female roles, which will make me mad because why should he get to write all the good movies?

Prognostication #3: I will be furious at the treatment of that chick from Mike & Molly which will send me on a rampage about stereotypes that my husband will studiously avoid getting involved with at the risk of setting me off further, because I am on a big kick to get us to eat more whole grains.

Prognostication #4: I will start thinking about every wedding I’ve ever been in, and the exact level of drunkenness I achieved at each, which never led to any madcap escapades or car chases, or even any petty squabbles, though I did once end up at Robert Plant’s birthday party clad in a gigantic flowered dress along with the bride’s younger sister, who was dressed in same. Oh, and that other time that I refuse to think about.

Prognostication #5: I will need to remember to get my prescription filled for that flight to Toronto I’m taking next month.

So, if I’ve got a lot of similarities to the characters in this movie – why does it already feel totally “unrelatable?”

I’ve been beaten down enough by Hollywood that I don’t expect a lot, but this flick isn’t even trying. Why does it make me nostalgic for Zach Galifianakis in The Hangover, a movie I despised? Why is the fact that he goes thru most of the movie with a baby strapped to his chest more accurate than watching a bunch of women bicker, bother and bitch their friend into wedded bliss?

Because the devil is not in the details. Because the harder Hollywood tries to get it right by following a formula, the greater the chance they’re going to get it wrong. Because we’re not all replicas of one another, because the greater truth is in the larger message, whatever that might be. It’s in the absurdity of the characters, not the particulars of the plot, and in order to do that you have to play it straight, not for laughs.

Behind the funniest moments is an element of truth, and behind every truth is not laughter but relief at finally being found out, at being recognized, at realizing how great the odds are stacked against a character and the only option is snickering or tears.

(This makes me think better of Linda Cardellini’s character in Freaks & Geeks, btw, which I would like noted for the record.)

For every body type, for every marital status, for every sexual indiscretion, there is a truism, an internal judgment that acts like a flow chart. If “yes” move here. If “no” move there. Either path is arbitrary and completely ridiculous and that’s what it is.

I haven’t seen Bridesmaids. In fact, I’m reviewing a trailer, so I’m probably assuming a lot and guilty of cynicism, so let me give you another example from among the recent crop of films by SNL cuties.

Date Night.

Tina Fey. Steve Carrell. Harried married couple. Kids. Jobs. Chaos. It has Mark Wahlberg. Goddamn, it even has James Franco. It should have been my dream movie. And for a little bit, it was. When Tina Fey says (in reference to the tedium of being a parent) something like: “Why is it such a fucking surprise every day when I tell them that they have to wear socks?” I hugged myself. But why this movie devolved into a story in which Claire’s cleavage gets minutes of screen time, vis à vis her undercover stripper costume, and she then proceeds to perform an awkward (as in wince-inducing, and not in a good way) pole dance is beyond comprehension.

And this from the woman who was quoted as saying (in reference to an Esquire photo shoot):

I got an email with a list of the potential setups, and my email back was like, ‘Well, I need to decline being handcuffed to a bed. I won’t straddle anyone. I won’t make out with a cop’. If I were a young single model, they would be appropriate, but you know, I’m a mom.

Why, Tina? Why? Aren’t you supposed to be one of the cleverest writers around? Aren’t you the chick that slaughtered Sarah Palin so thoroughly that I can’t look at one without seeing the other? (Come to think of it, maybe Sarah needs the kudos for that.) Please please don’t do this, please don’t be “that girl.”

Charlie Chaplin said, “Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.”

I guess that’s what I want. I want to watch a movie about the female experience that takes a long shot, that doesn’t go for the easy scene. That doesn’t go for the big giant laugh, but gets it anyway because it’s subtle and sneaky and true, the kind of laugh that makes me laugh tomorrow and next week and if it’s really good, in a few years. I want the long-view, the one that doesn’t pull punches, the one that is as horrifying as it is hilarious, makes me look at myself and shake my head. I want to hear the line that makes me mess up when I try to repeat it. The one that makes me feel I’m not alone.

Misery loves company right? But movies like Bridesmaids, in which I’m supposed to identify with a common experience, only wind up making me feel more marginalized – yet I have hope, because I have seen the future, and its name is Jason Segel.


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