Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Polishing the Poverty Line in Bridesmaids
Annie, Kristen Wiig’s character in Bridesmaids, wears a lot of nail polish. She's failed at everything else in her life, but her nails always look fantastic. Comedy aside, this is what makes Bridesmaids such a terrific flick. It captures the depression and flat out embarrassment of being a poor person surrounded by the impressiveness of the rich and beautiful, a flaw which Annie is constantly punished for. From the opening scene, where she hilariously and humiliatingly rolls in the hay with Jon Hamm, we learn everything we need to know about Annie - she doesn't think enough of herself to find a partner who treats her like a wanted and worthwhile person. This carries over into every aspect of her life, including her increasingly tumultuous relationship with her best friend and confidante, Lillian (Maya Rudolph).
No matter how hard she tries, Annie always feels inadequate because of her social status and inability to compete with Lillian's new country club life and friendships. The deepest and most tragic laughs in the movie stem from these feelings of inadequacy and punishment. All of the big comedy set-pieces, from the shitting and vomiting in expensive dresses to getting drunk and drugged in coach class on the way to Vegas ("Help me, I'm poor!"), drive this idea home and provide little positive reinforcement for Annie's character. Despite the constant chuckles and giggles, the film often feels like an exercise in misery and futility.
Carrie Bradshaw and Ma Joad. The movie tries to end Annie's tale on a positive note (she meets a guy who treats her pretty well and fixes her friendship with Lillian), but it does little to reassure her place in the world. She's still the unemployed, bankrupt thirty-something living at home with her mom. I've thought about Annie a lot since I initially watched the movie last May and, as if she were one of my oldest friends, worry about her and wonder how she's doing.
I guess we'll find out when (and if) Bridesmaids 2 debuts in a couple of years, but I have a terrible gut feeling Annie is still wearing a lot of nail polish.