Bridesmaids (2011)

Bridesmaids is a comedy about a bunch of women that are getting ready to be bridesmaids for one of their friends who is getting married.  I thought this movie was funny and I enjoyed it, so there is no criticism coming from me in that regard.  What struck me about the movie, however, was the irony of marriage that was obvious to the audience but seemed to escape the characters in the movie.

On the one hand, the women in the movie that are single want to get married and look forward to being married as something wonderful.  There is, of course, Lilian (Maya Rudolph), the woman who is about to be married.  Then there is Annie (Kristen Wiig), who is going to be her maid of honor, at least initially.  Annie is single and wants to get married.  Unfortunately, she is having a succession of one-night-stands with the same man over and over again.  That man is Ted, played by Jon Hamm, whose good looks are almost painful to behold, especially if you are a man who has had to compete for women with the likes of him.  Ted will never marry her, of course, for he doesn’t even like her to spend the night, but wants her out of his place as soon as they are through having sex.  When she finally breaks up with him (if you can call it that), he utters a classic line as he drives away:  “You are no longer my number three.”  Finally, there is Megan (Melissa McCarthy), who is in the movie strictly for laughs.

On the other hand, the women in the movie that are married (or had been married) find marriage to be either sexually frustrating, sexually repulsive, disappointing, or just plain miserable.  Annie’s mother (Jill Clayburgh) is divorced and still resentful over being left for another woman over twelve years ago.  Helen (Rose Byrne), Annie’s nemesis, admits that her husband travels a lot and she is lonely.  Rita (Wendy McLendon-Covey), who is stepmother to children that despise her, dreads having sex with her husband.  And Becca (Ellie Kemper) is sexually frustrated because she is married to a neurotic man for whom sex has to be done under specified conditions so exacting that they often end up not having sex at all.

But the women that are single are oblivious to the unhappy situations of the women that are or were married.  Moreover, the unhappily married women are equally oblivious, for they also think it is just wonderful that Lillian is getting married.  Some people can learn from the mistakes of others; some people have to learn everything the hard way; and some people don’t learn no matter what happens.  When it comes to marriage, these women seem to fall into the last category.  Unfortunately, that only means the movie is true to life.

While the women are getting ready for the wedding, Annie meets Nathan (Chris O’Dowd), a police officer.  They seem to be suited to each other.  They have sex over at his house, and he has no qualms about letting her spend the night.  He even wants to spend the day with her when they get up.  But she gets cold feet, saying, “Last night was a mistake.”  Then she refuses to return his phone calls.  Annie feels bad about the whole thing, but no matter what she does, he refuses to accept her apology.

Life is full of misunderstandings and hurt feelings, but I have never rebuffed an apology in my life.  The minute someone indicates that he or she is genuinely sorry about something that happened, I find it impossible not to be forgiving.  That does not mean I will let that person back into my life, for that is another thing entirely.

In other words, Nathan could have accepted her apology and then said that, indeed, the night they made love was a mistake, but they could still be friends.  And “being friends” need not mean socializing together on a regular basis, but only that they smile at each other and exchange a few pleasantries when they meet.  The way he held a grudge against Annie for so long was a warning sign against having a relationship with him.  And for what?  She really did not do anything so terribly wrong.  In fact, it was not even the sort of thing for which I would have expected an apology.  Our search for love is full of false starts and blind alleys, and we don’t know how things will end up when we start them.  But then, I guess the way Annie refused to accept Helen’s apologies means she is not much better than Nathan.  Maybe they deserve each other.  But it’s going to be a rough marriage.

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