Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Polishing the Poverty Line in Bridesmaids

Nail polish is a poor girl’s best friend. The good stuff is less than $10 a bottle and could potentially last for years. The poorest gals (those who work menial jobs like customer service and retail) have to work with and stare at their hands all day long and nail polish is always a pretty, colorful reminder of one’s femininity in the line of duty.

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.

It's true that Bridesmaids is a hilarious movie, but it's also a sad look into what life is like for the gals who happen to fall in-between 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.


  1. Nice Review Sara. I didn't look, but has the classic Working Girl been reviewed yet? Keep doing what you do!

  2. Ken! Thank you for the comment. :-) I haven't written about Working Girl yet (though I just re-watched it a couple of weeks ago!), but it will probably happen at some point. This is my new blog project and I'm just getting started. Thank you for the support! It seriously means a lot to me.