Judd Apatow is best-known for his male-centred comedies like 40 Year Old Virgin, Superbad and Knocked Up. So it is particularly interesting to watch his first truly female-oriented film, Bridesmaids (opening in Australia on 16 June 2011; opened in North America 13 May 2011). Bridesmaids (directed by Paul Feig, co-produced by Apatow) is, I suspect, one of those films which some film critics and cineastes will disparage (Sandra Hall of the Sydney Morning Herald notably gave it 1.5 stars out of 5, calling it “humour for masochists”), but audiences will love. The small audience I saw it with on a rainy Sydney preview totally loved it, and laughed at all the jokes.
Bridesmaids is full of hilarious set pieces, which probably will be analysed (and imitated) for a long time to come. The film is powered by its female character-driven comedy (move over guys, the women are now in town), with men playing distinct supporting roles. But the film may end up being most notable for one thing for one character background and one theme, on which almost no-one seems to comment. The film’s true underlying theme is female friendship (so far, so good), but the real driving force is actually female competition – not competition for men but for the friendship of other women. The best friend of Annie Walker (Kristen Wiig, also a co-writer of the film) is Lillian (Maya Rudolph), and the biggest tension in the film is Annie’s vying with Helen (Australian actress Rose Byrne) for her friendship.
In the film, Lillian has an African-American father and a white mother, pretty much like Maya Rudolph in real life (the daughter of Jewish composer Richard Rudolph and African-American soul singer Minnie Riperton). That’s cool, and the most fascinating thing is: there is not one mention of her background in the film. This “colour-blind” casting – and the decision by the writers/director/producers not to mention her racial background – is very Obama post-modern (as it should be), but certainly is a relatively recent phenomenon: didn’t they used to make films about inter-racial relationships (Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner anyone?).
View the trailer for Bridesmaids below: