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“We kind of wrote it like a guy would…”

Director Paul Feig on how Judd Apatow’s suggestion led him to add the food poisoning scene to the Wiig-Mumolo script in Bridesmaids (2011)

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EW: Once BABY MAMA came out and did solid business, was there any talk of you and Amy (Poehler) doing another movie right away?

Tina Fey: No, it didn’t make enough money. I would like to do something that’s a little more at our personal taste. I feel like that movie is a pre-BRIDESMAIDS-era movie where there was just a little bit of a vibe of Everybody be niiice! Don’t have too many jokes! Wear a skirt! It’s just a little bit soft for my taste.

Baldwin, Kristen. “Tina Fey: The EW Interview”. ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY 5 Oct. 2012: 40-50. 47. Print.

“….BRIDESMAIDS succeeded because, aside from being funny, it told a complete story with a narrative destination…. the women in BRIDESMAIDS actually moved forward. A sequel that puts them back in pink dresses replaying life crises would suggest everything that happened in the first movie was a lie–you thought you were watching a movie, but no, it was just a sitcom pilot.

“Pilots, though, are pretty much all that studios are in the business of making right now. They don’t call them that, because the movies are desperate not to be mistaken for and therefore further supplanted by television, but that’s what they are. In 2011, the nine-highest grossing movies in America were all sequels. That represents an immense collapse of imagination–even as recently as 1996 and 1998, the year’s top 10 movies didn’t include a single sequel–and it suggests that to studios, the primary function of a movie is to generate more episodes exactly like it. But even sequels need starting points, so for the business to stay lubricated, a certain number of successful originals have to be generated each year….”

Mark Harris, “Kristen Wiig Wigs Out Hollywood,” ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, Feb 3/10 2012, p. 26

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Australian transplant Rebel Wilson is featured in ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY online and in print this week. Although she might be recognizable from her role in BRIDESMAIDS, she’s poised for household name status with the release of at least five films this year and a tv show in the works. While I’m skeptical how much her roles will challenge the gross-out depictions of fatness from BRIDESMAIDS, it’ll be interesting to see her star on the rise. Here’s some highlights.

Online:

  • “….Ever since her scene-stealing turn as Kristen Wiig’s sublimely annoying, Mexican-drinking-worm-tattooed roommate Brynn in last year’s BRIDESMAIDS, the 32-year-old Australian-born comic actress… has become one of the most buzzed-about new faces in Hollywood. She has no fewer than five films set to come out this year; she recently shot a pilot for a CBS sitcom that she created, wrote, and stars in called SUPER FUN NIGHT, executive-produced by Conan O’Brien;… and she has an original musical-comedy script in development…. ‘Rebel has gotten so much bounce off the movie,’ marvels BRIDESMAIDS director Paul Feig. ‘In a weird way, she’s gotten more than anybody.'”
  • She and Matt Lucas, who plays her onscreen brother, are interested in collaborating on a spinoff to BRIDESMAIDS focused on their characters, an idea that seems like it could gain some traction considering that Kristen Wiig has nixed the idea of a BRIDESMAIDS sequel.

In print:

  • “‘Rebel is going to make a big splash,’ says Elizabeth Banks, who plays Wilson’s boss in (WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING) and produced another of her upcoming films, the collegiate-singing-group comedy PITCH PERFECT. ‘She’s like a female Seth Rogen in a way. She came here to conquer.'” (48)
  • “Wilson’s disarming self-assurance instantly won over O’Brien when she appeared on his late-night show last year bearing nunchucks (she’s a martial-arts enthusiast)….” (48)

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Via

  • She became a national TV star in Australia on three series before moving to Hollywood.
  • “Feig came up with the idea of having Wilson play Lucas’ sister, a role that didn’t exist in the original script. On the set, he says, it was instantly clear she was willing to go to any length for a laugh: ‘It was like, ‘Can you show more butt crack?’ ‘Sure!’ She was just going for it.'” (49)

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  • However, “Wilson has no qualms about taking on roles that highlight her weight. Her character in PITCH PERFECT is named Fat Amy, and in BACHELORETTE she plays a bride-to-be who’s called ‘Pig Face’ by her own cruel bridesmaids. ‘Some actresses who are bigger say, ‘I don’t want to get famous for playing a fat character,’ Wilson says. ‘But the size I am, you can’t just ignore it and try to go for skinny roles.’ She shrugs. ‘In comedy you have to use what you’ve got.'” (49) For me this begs the (rather rhetorical) question, what are the skinny roles?

In terms of that last quote, Wilson claims in a DAILY TELEGRAPH article from earlier this year (source for the nunchucks photo above) that she’s actually been encouraged to maintain her size in Hollywood. The PITCH PERFECT contract required that she lose no more weight from her Jenny Craig sponsorship for the duration of the film shoot. Wilson also notes that “Australians had been prejudiced against her weight….’But when I walked into the US agency I am with… they saw me and thought, ‘We don’t have anyone who looks like you, so we are going to accept you'”. This goes along with one of the major claims in my dissertation, that larger-sized performers have found opportunities through differentiation based on their size. However, “Wilson said once her film commitments ended, she would be back on the diet and is determined to reach 80kg (around 176 pounds) by the end of the year.” So what happens to her opportunities in Hollywood if she reaches that smaller size? Another part of my dissertation will look at how established actors fare after weight loss. Although many surmise that weight loss benefits a career, I argue that it can lead to a kind of brand confusion, especially when a certain persona seems to have been set. Whatever happens for Rebel next, she should be an interesting case study.

“But something like ‘propriety’ kicks in at some point for teenage girls, as part, I think, of the demands that they police their sexuality (that’s what propriety means, right?), and propriety clearly excludes all that gross-out humor and stuff. All that stuff never leaves boys’ culture though! Comedies like the Hangover (sic), or Wedding Crashers, that teenage boys and young men flock to in theaters, are full of the same sorts of silly, gross, ridiculous humor as boys’ cartoons. (I have not read it yet, but I suspect that Halberstam on Dude Where’s My Car would be compatible with this — again, lots of placeholders.) One of the criticisms leveled at BRIDESMAIDS was that the puerile humor of diarrhea and sandwich sex was masculine, so rather than finally having a comedy written by, starring and for women audiences, you get the same old puerile non-romcom humor that movie comedies always have. (The link is to the Spectator (sic) because its anti-feminist perspective is exactly the one that’s relevant here.)

“But what’s more, precisely because the gross-out humor of puerility is so concerned with genitals, puerility ends up being this thing that (straight) boys can embed their sexuality in. So while girls are supposed to be asexual children and then, all of a sudden, sexual but proper women, with any grey area being grounds for huge freakouts and moral panic, boys get to work in the comfortable field of puerility for their whole lives. Puerility seems to provide a sort of scaffold for boys, from childhood to adulthood, where they can build on what they already know. And that means, I think, that there are fewer moments when they or their parents find themselves thinking about being ‘between’ anything, which means that there’s less utility in media and consumer products that are addressing the particular desires of ‘tweens.'”

Tyler Bickford, “Puerile boys and tween girls?”

POSTSCRIPT (10-14-12): “…. Farting, belching, and nose-picking convey a similar failure–or refusal–to restrain the body. While boys and men can make controlled use of such ‘uncontrollable’ bodily functions to rebel against authority, such an avenue of revolt is generally not available to women. But, as (Nancy) Henley suggests (in BODY POLITICS: POWER, SEX AND NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION), ‘if it should ever come into women’s repertoire, it will carry great power, since it directly undermines the sacredness of women’s bodies’ (91).”

Rowe, Kathleen Karlyn. THE UNRULY WOMAN: GENDER AND THE GENRES OF LAUGHTER. Austin: The University of Texas Press, 1995. Print. 64.

Apatow: I got bored of penises. I said, “enough of that.” No, I just like immaturity, I like to show people struggle and try to figure out who they are. I’m a guy and so it leaned guy for a while. But one of the projects I’m most proud of is FREAKS AND GEEKS, which is about a woman in high school struggling to figure out which group she wants to belong to, so for me, it goes back and forth.

Judd Apatow in HOLLYWOOD REPORTER interview, on recent switch to working on more (white) female-oriented projects like BRIDESMAIDS (Feig, 2011) and GIRLS (Lena Dunham, Creator, HBO, 2012)

Yes, they probably were talking about dicks, but I thought it was pretty easy to read an implict comment about weight and body size here. As the BRIDESMAIDS cast shorts awards bit started, the camera was catching the whole group from a high angle to the side of the stage. When Wiig started in with her “they say size doesn’t matter” intro, the camera was on the group, and McCarthy was still in the shot, close to the camera. I was confused at first, I thought, “Are they really doing this?”, until Rudolph went on about length, but then Wiig went on to talk about “heft”, and things got a little more ambivalent again. Anyway, I like to think that the BRIDESMAIDS group was giving a wink to body size; if not, I’ll still take it.