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Sunday, 5 June 2011

@ the Cinema

Brides-mades in Hell

By Victoria Ordin
[Writers Clearinghouse News Service]


Los Angeles
I saw Bridesmaids last night with J after a great sushi dinner, at which I ordered a special roll posted by a FB friend of mine in Oregon, after whom the restaurant named a special roll (spicy salmon, spicy tuna and cucumber on inside, tuna and halibut on the outside, with a sweet and spicy Tobiko sauce–fabulous).

J loved it and I would give it a B- at best. The movie has some cry because you’re laughing so hard moments. The movie opens with Kristen Wiig–a zany, super skinny, beautiful blonde, about 40, who truly is like a Lucille Ball/Carol Burnett cross with Meg Ryan (physical comedian as well as romantic comedy star)–having just about the worst sex I have ever witnessed in a movie or TV show, with Jon Hamm of Mad Men. He is wealthy, lives in a crazy beautiful modern home and drives a late model Porsche, very nice car.

Victoria Ordin
The scene is hilarious as he likes to fuck very, very quickly and it’s like she’s on a mechanical bull on overdrive. She tries to slow it down and he resists and the poor girl gets bounced around more than a teenager on a trotting horse who doesn’t yet know how to post. The best part is that he won’t let her sleep over and she cannot get out of the gate, so climbs on top of the power gate which begins to move, so that she is being metaphorically kicked to the curb, by a mechanical gate, all the while straddling it in her very short dress. (She’s very thin, a 0 to 2, and has very long, thin legs which she shows off in short dresses throughout the film. A FB friend of mine, a genius with multiple degrees in his 50s said he would see the movie, which he found hilarious throughout, just too see Kirsten Wiig in her underwear again. I’m a girl: I would only see it again at home on DVD to see the adorable yellow labrador puppies which are party favors at an extravagant wedding part. Little Emmas (J’s lab’s name).

Wiig plays a down-and-out girl in Milwaukee who lost her business–a bakery named Cake Baby–and works in a low end jewelry store. It is funny when she talks a blissfully in love Asian couple out of a ring, basically, and then tells a stupid teenager who wants a “best friends forever” necklace that she is unlikely to remain best friends with this girl for life (projecting of course, her own situation with her childhood best friend, Maya Rudolph, the bride in them movie with whom I had occasional playdates on the boat or at her house, in the same elementary school class with me at St. Augustine as Gwyneth Paltrow). She was not my best friend or anything, but we went to Universal Studios with my housekeeper and I still have the pictures somewhere. She came to the boat for one or two sleepovers and her father Richard, who lived in Westwood, with Maya after her talented mother, a singer with 5 octave range before Mariah Carey was even born–Minnie Ripperton–died of breast cancer. That amusing scene ends with Wiig calling her a cunt and getting fired, and I did enjoy both of those scenes.

Maya Rudolph’s character, Lillian, becomes engaged and asks her best friend since childhood to be her maid of honor. The best comedic scene in the film comes early when Wiig shows up at the fancy club to which Lillian and Doug belong, along with her new best friend, extremely wealthy trophy wife, Helen (very pretty with killer body but not intimidatingly pretty, the sort of girl you stand next to and feel profoundly inferior).

(As an aside, the movie takes a very dim view of children. When the annoying and snobby Helen asks her stepkids, whom she at first calls kids, if they want to go to the snack bar at the country/tennis club, one tells her to “fuck off.” And the married, funny, not beautiful but well-to-do blonde who wants to do the bachelorette party in Vegas because her hair stylist can get them free blow, which will presumably make having “balls in her face” that much more enjoyable and memorable, has three sons, one of whom also tells her to fuck off. Maybe it’s a boy thing; none of these women has daughters or step-daughters.)

But the whole wedding–very expensive–along with the pre-wedding dinners, showers, parties gets to Wiig who is of course understandably jealous both for financial and romantic reasons. Her boyfriend dumped her when the bakery went under. She lives with a brother and sister from England who are funny but also depressing (the sister is obese and dumb and gets a horrible tattoo which becomes infected and when Wiig tells her to put frozen peas on the infection, she opens a bag and dumps it out, ignoring Wiig’s explanation that you’re supposed to leave the peas the bag).

So she doesn’t even have her own place (at 40, we know she slept in Lillian’s bathtub at 38). She works a shitty job she only got because her mother, played by the late, great Jill Clayburgh, sponsors her boss in AA, which she attends for its inspirational value, in spite of never having been a drinker. She only has one friend, really, her best friend since kindergarten, and then later, the gem of the movie, Melissa McCarthy, who played Sookie on Gilmore Girls, the wonderful and quirky best friend and later partner at the Dragonfly Inn, of Lorelai (Lauren Graham from Parenthood). McCarthy is absolutely phenomenal as this very fat, outspoken, smart, vulgar sister the groom-to-be.

It is hilarious when they go to a cheap Brazilian restaurant (and not at all hilarious when they get food poisoning and puke and shit in the bathroom of an elite bridal boutique which requires appointments for which one has to wait 7 weeks, unless one knows the owner, as Helen does) and McCarthy starts to laugh when Lillian is in the bathroom. The other bridesmaids ask why she is laughing and she responds that she just cannot believe Lillian is going to marry her brother, whom she loves but thinks is a “total fucking asshole.”

That pooping and puking scene is an indication of some of what follows, including a scene at which the full theater laughed uproariously, and at which I felt queasy and highly annoyed. The second abysmal and irritating scene is the one at the wedding shower, planned by Helen after the disastrous and embarrassing plane trip organized by Wiig to Vegas for the bachelorette party. The plane ride is cut short because Wiig goes batty (I won’t spoil the surprise for you in case you enjoy that kind of embarrassing, slapstick, frustrating I Love Lucy kind of humor), drinks too (fear of flying), fights with a gay flight attendant, and gets escorted by a federal agent off the plane when they land. Lillian fires Wiig as maid of honor and puts the society woman accustomed to such roles, in charge.

Lillian has never been to Paris and Wiig suggested a sweet and modest Parisian-themed shower. It ends up being a truly over-the-top and ostentatious party at Lillian’s estate, complete with an Eiffel Tower fountain with chocolate rather than water, horses, and yellow lab puppies as party favors. The wedding shower is to my mind the worst scene in the movie. Wiig’s jealous finally explodes when Helen gives Lillian a trip to Paris with her to have her (ghastly but expensive and couture) dress fitted by the designer. She’s not drunk and she goes on a rampage, destroying the giant cookie, trying to push the stone fountain with her 105 pound body, and just totally losing it in a verbal tirade at her best friend and the interloper of whom she is very jealous both because of her looks and her money.

My take: sober people do not behave this way and even if they do, it’s not my idea of enterainment to watch a self-destructive and adrift woman forty years old, with no job, no boyfriend, no apartment of her own, no direction in life, and finally no money, make a fool of herself and ruin her childhood friend’s party. Wiig meets a charming and sweet Irish cop, who pulls her over due to broken tail-lights and he’s the other gem of the film. He is tremendously sweet and self-deprecating (“I’m very strong and tough” he says explaining why a foreigner was able to be a cop) and after they spend the night together, he has a kitchen stocked with baking supplies for her, because he wants her to bake again. He used to go to Cake Baby, feels she is talented and wants her to pursue her passion.

So what does she do? Naturally, she treats him like shit and run out the door, because God forbid, she finds a kind, stable man who wants the best for her. I have no patience for this sort of thing. Of course, this is a romantic comedy so you know how that ends. She also reconciles with her best friend and the wedding is touching, complete with a performance by Wilson Phillips (a high school band of her, and my, era, with their hit “Hold On”"). Helen promises this will be the last instance of her largesse and Helen and Wiig even come to terms by the end.

There are two standout funny scenes in the film, after the opening sex scene (no sex in the movie other than that, it’s R mostly for language): a) a toasting contest at the first party between the old and new best friends, one-upsmanship at its best and b) the reckless driving scene at which, having alienated the sweet cop, she breaks the law in about five ways so as to get pulled over and enlist the cop’s help in finding the bride who has gone AWOL.

I do not regret seeing it, but it was very irritating in many parts and I had, as I said, so little sympathy for this women. I come now to part two of this post: my musing on fuck buddies.

Let me say at the outset: I have no moral or ideological opposition to the concept of a fuck buddy. Nor do I have a problem with having two fuck buddies at the same time, men who fulfill different needs, have, as it were two different skill sets, neither of which includes a full-time, committed relationship.

The FWB (Friends With Benefits), the benefits being of course sex–is a fine dating institution for people too busy or too emotionally stunted to handle a serious and monogamous relationship. However, if you are going to have a fuck buddy, you must get something out of it, either material or emotional. If you are going to fuck a rich asshole, you had better get dinner, wine, drinks, clothes, lingerie or even jewelry. As my friend and blogger and new novelist, Lennie Ross, put it in her blog: this woman is a glorified hooker, and at least hookers are smart enough to get paid. This woman doesn’t even get fed. If the guy is broke, he had better be smart, funny, sweet, into movies, music and literature and great in the sack. Of course: bonus points if he has a New York or Boston accent, but that’s just me. Extra bonus points if he grew up in NY or New England and came to LA at 20 or 30.

I had a friend and FWB–he was mean to me but has since apologized–in the TV business (production, not talent). He was older, heavy, standup comedian funny, witty, and whipsmart. He had a term which describes what used to be the old rule about first date sex: “the feed and fuck”. In LA, and I presume NYC, there exist what have become known in the online dating world as “restaurant whores.” These are girls , usually very pretty, and in NYC, often educated and smart but without a career, who will fuck a guy in return for an expensive meal (200 dollar range, including wine and booze for the night). Wiig isn’t even a restaurant whore, much less a real whore. On top of which, Hamm is not funny, sweet, cultured, witty or sexually skilled. He’s hot he’s rich (a lot of good that does as he doesn’t take her out).

So my take on booty calls is this: they suck. Going over to a guy’s house, even it it’s a 5 to 10 million dollar estate, for sex, late at night, is unappealing unless the sex is really great and the guy is very cool (funny, smart, kind, sexy, interesting). Hamm is none of these things and I would not, even were I single, fuck this man for a dinner at Michael’s or Melisse in LA. No renumeration, tangible or intangible (gifts, not money) could persuade me under any circumstances, to sleep with this guy. He won’t even let her sleep over. Now, my FWB didn’t like that either. He said it would be “too commitmenty” and it is not my finest hour, I admit, but I used to drive from the San Fernando Valley, after an evening there and leave around eleven to drive the 80 or 90 minutes back to SB in no traffic. (Again it very enjoyable and had little if anything to do with the sex because he was smart, dynamic, a storyteller of the highest order, a comedian of sorts with a New York accent, for which I am or at least was, willing to overlook a very great deal in the way of character flaws ).

The (sad) truth is: I not only loved being with this man–in person or on the phone, hearing his amazing voice and funny stories, and he did have a good heart, was very close to his mother, worshipped his immigrant musician father, and lost his mother shortly after we parted, absolutely crushing for him–I sort of loved him. He was fat and mean to me often (nothing physical, just verbally abusive), but he had one of the best personalities I have ever encountered and I have known some spectacularly intelligent and creative people in my life. His personality was larger-than-life, as was his body of course, and he was exciting in every way.

I agree with Lennie Ross that in LA, you do get a lot of the fuck buddy thing in the entertainment industry, but disagree that this is more of an LA thing. It’s just as common in NYC, but there, it’s centered on the Wall Street culture. The hookers and blow at Goldman Sachs you see in the brilliant, Oscar-winning documentary about the “takeover” or “capture” as Simon Johnson, ex-IMF Chief Economist and MIT professor puts it, The Inside Job, may have been driven underground, that culture is still alive and well. And of course, there are plenty of wannabe Gordon Gekkos running around Manhattan willing to buy a nice dinner in exchange for sex, a more subtle form of prostitution. But if you are only going to fuck a guy because he takes you to Daniel, you’re still in the whore category in my book. I do not say this with venom or judgment; it’s literally the case, to me, if you are only fucking a guy to get dinner and wine or drinks or theater tickets.

My friend on the East Coast, a genius with five degrees and many accompmlishments, truly enjoyed the film, laughed his ass off as he put it, and told me I was taking it all “way too seriously.” That may be the case. But I have to say that seeing a woman in her financial, emotional, professional, romantic situation at forty years of age does not, to me, represent entertainment. It’s sad more than funny, though I will say I loved about 45 minutes of the film.

There is, finally, one dramatic scene between McCarthy (Megan) and Wiig, after she has hit bottom and moves in with her mother. McCarthy has come to visit because her calls are not being returned and she has no tolerance for Wiig, who is wallowing in self-pity (self-inflicted wounds so much of her messed up life). It is the best dramatic scene in the film, with McCarthy delivering what might be the funniest line in the movie, in the course of her description of how hard high school was for the fat girl they all called a freak: “You might think it was smooth and easy for me in high school: not the case.”

I would recommend waiting for the DVD, so you can skip the absurd and annoying parts, about 30 minutes of them movie in my view. Maya was good but her character is fairly straightforward and Wiig and McCarthy are the real draws of the film (along with the man who plays the cop, whose name I will now look up).


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