Comedy Weekend (Double Bill) “Bridesmaids” (2011) and “The Inbetweeners Movie” (2011)
WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS INCLUDED.
This weekend I have attended the cinema twice; firstly the Aberystwyth Arts Centre to see another screening of “Bridesmaids” on Saturday and on the Sunday I finally saw the phenomenon that is “The Inbetweeners Movie” at the Commodore Cinema. Initially I had only planned to review the latter however after re-watching “Bridesmaids” I possibly enjoyed it even more second time around therefore made the decision to treat you all to a double bill review in which I am going to discuss what I enjoyed about these films and what I think makes them so successful along with the portrayal’s of groups of men and women in modern-day-comedy.
When the marketing for this film began in all honesty I was very sceptical; like many I assumed the film was just going to be a “The Hangover” (2009) knock-off; however I did take into consideration that Judd Apatow’s team were behind the movie and I think that films such as “The 40-Year-Old-Virgin” (2005) and “Knocked Up” (2007) are some of the funniest, recent comedies out there; therefore I decided to place my scepticism aside and give the film a chance. To a certain extent it appears like the production team behind “Bridesmaids” are challenging the production team behind “The Hangover” to say “yeah, we can do this concept better!”.
“Bridesmaids” is stereotypical to an extent however it does hold a certain level of accuracy in terms of how modern day women behave who are in very different places in their lives; as much as we dislike to admit women are generally never satisfied with what they have and can possesses bitchiness and jealousy towards each other; “Bridesmaids” conveys these aspects well. “Bridesmaids” provided the audience with well-written characters that were strongly developed and crafted; Kristen Wiig co-wrote the film as well as starring as the protagonist Annie, this factor enabled her to have the best possible understanding of the character and made her feel real; Kristen created an empathetic relationship between Annie and the audience; in terms of cinematography a lot of close-up shots and the shallow focus technique were used in order to emphasise this and bring a sense of intimacy between the audience and her character. I think Annie is a very relate-able character as she is simply human, she makes mistakes like everyone else but she learns from that and her character has grown by the end of the film in a positive light; I think its a very endearing quality.
I felt the pace of the film was a lot slower than “The Hangover” resulting in the comedic timing taking a much subtler tone; the comedy wasn’t as “in-your-face” as “The Hangover” but still kept in with the spirit of the sub-genre of “Gross-out-humour”. In certain aspects I did feel that the “gross” scene’s were in place to make a statement that women can be just as equally disgusting as men and admittedly this did feel slightly forced especially the fact that the food poisoning dress fitting scene took place early on in the film; what I’m trying to reach at is “gross-out-moments” in modern comedy aren’t a necessity in terms of trying to be genuinely funny and does result in a predictable formula. As much as I am reluctant to admit; I personally think men achieve this particular comedy style better than women.
I had a slight issue with the editing at the beginning of the film; scenes didn’t transition well into each other and I spotted a couple of jump-cuts that made it feel slightly rushed; however despite that overall the film was timed well and flowed. I thought “Bridesmaids” featured a natural flow of dialogue and displayed a sense of realism within the narrative in comparison to other recent comedies; I thought it held a strong balance of realism and surrealism e.g. the over-the-top wedding shower. The tone of the film felt consistent throughout and even in the serious, dramatic moments e.g. the wedding shower scene; light relief was still provided in order to remind us the film is still a comedy and to keep the tone on the same level.
For me; the film conformed but also went against the stereotypical conventions of the “chick flick” genre e.g. this was demonstrated in the scene in which Annie attempts to make things up with her love interest Officer Rhodes (Played by Chris O-Dowd) by baking him a carrot cake; in stereotypical “chick flicks” it would be expected that the conflict would find resolution in this scene but its not the case; Officer Rhodes ignores the cake, leaving it on his doorstep for wild animals to consume!
As an audience we are teased into thinking that the film is going to take the same route as “The Hangover” especially when the characters board a plane for a bacherlorette party to Las Vegas; this scene was possibly in place as a homage but it also challenges expectations as the scene goes in a completely different direction; another nod to “The Hangover” was having the character of Megan (Played by Melissa McCarthy) as the sister to the groom similarly to Zach Galifianakis’s character Alan being the brides brother. My favourite scene in the whole film had to be the plane scene which was largely due to the hilarious performances by Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy.
“Bridesmaids” challenges formulaic expectations overall and the majority of conflicts within the film were resolved at the end; the ending didn’t feel overly cheesy or sappy; I’d describe it as fitting. Helen’s (Played by Rose Byrne) situation of constant loneliness more than likely remained the same, Rita (Played by Wendi McLendon-Covey) and Becca (Played by Ellie Kemper) characters were more or less dropped mid-way through the film therefore it is unknown how they dealt with their issues. The ending provided the audience with the hoped romantic finish with Annie and Rhodes evidently getting together; however his character still appears reserved towards her and the only hope left for the audience was to assume the characters would have their happy ending.
On the whole I really enjoyed “Bridesmaids” surprisingly as I am not a great fan of “chick flicks”; I liked how this film challenged the genre the natural flow of the narrative presented and the believable characters. I have to confess I personally prefer it to “The Hangover” for those reasons.
“The Inbetweeners Movie” (2011)
“The Inbetweeners Movie” (2011) to an extent is an update of “Kevin and Perry Go Large” (2001) in the context of two popular comedy television series going out with a bang through treating the fans to a feature length film as well as using the “lad’s holiday” setting; however that is where the similarities between the two finish. For me “The Inbetweeners Movie” delivered on so many levels and kept me laughing from beginning to end.
As the film began it was a nice surprise to see a cameo role off Anthony Head as Will’s Dad; I thought it was a brilliant touch and a great introduction to the character.
The film was jam-packed with gross-out humour and constant hilarity throughout; it met expectations and for fans of the series its pretty much “what-you-see-is-what-you-get”.
In a sense I think the film portrayed women as stronger and more self-assured in comparison to the male characters; our protagonists behaviour never comes across as suave or cool and is played for comedy value; confirming the belief that female’s mature quicker than males; the male characters behave overly chauvinistic which never works in their favour; their view of understanding women is also very naive which leads me to question is the film marketed at young females also and is it creating a cynical view of of the modern-day-man for us? It was also a semi-accurate depiction of the behaviour of British youth and the drinking and clubbing culture of the modern day, how it was presented is embarrassingly close to the truth; I liked the fact there was a Johnny Vegas reference which was possibly an unintentional nod to fellow British sitcom “Benidorm” (2007-Present).
The film used its location well with some stunning establishing and panning shots of Malia’s beaches which helped the scenes transition into each other nicely and effectively (I’ll note that I am aware the shots were actually filmed in Majorca but I’m referencing the location they were depicting). As well as being completely funny; “The Inbetweeners” is a touching “coming-of-age” story about four boys entering adulthood and marking the occasion in style; its about growing up and changing, so it does reach out on a deeper level than just four misfits getting drunk and attempting to get laid!! The scene that mostly highlighted this was the discussion between Jay and Simon regarding Simon leaving for university. Out of the group I think Jay (Played by James Buckley) developed the most over the course of the film in terms of his shallow attitude façade being tossed aside and falling for someone he wouldn’t consider conventionally attractive. Simon (Played by Joe Thomas) is also developed well; I did find his Carly (Played by Emily Head) obsession really grating and overdone but it was worth it in the end to see him reject her in favour of Lucy (Played by Tamla Kari); these developments were most definitely refreshing to see. Will (Played by Simon Bird) and Neil (Played by Blake Harrison) were at their hilarious best and the dance sequence for me had to be one of the funniest moments. Each of the leads performances were on top form!
Tim Robey reviewed the film in “The Telegraph” describing it as “Mamma Mia! for the Hangover demographic”, a statement I most definitely agree with. For American audiences the film could be viewed as a “British Hangover” with its similar plot; as I said in the previous review on “Bridesmaids”, “The Inbetweeners” has a more realistic feel about it in comparison to the over the top, in-your-face nature of “The Hangover”. “The Inbetweeners” does hold a certain charm about it and for me is the best recent film of the genre. I think its really popular because its a feel-good movie; it makes people laugh and plays the shock value well; the characters are relateable (particularly for the awkward teenage boy market!) and the audience genuinely cares about them as they have entertained us for the past three years; its very well written and the writers and lead actors are comedy geniuses in my opinion! I’d also like to add that I really respect them for ending on a high and not carrying out the series any further which could result in its appeal becoming lost. What more can I say? Listen to the reviews, go see it, you won’t be disappointed “and remember to take your wellies cause you’ll be knee deep in clunge!”
Hayley Alice Roberts.