Scarecrow Video suggestions for 'Bridesmaids'
This week sees the release of "Bridesmaids," one of those Judd Apatow-produced summer comedies. It's mostly distinctive for featuring a large ensemble cast of ladies, something you definitely don't see too often. We here at Scarecrow don't like to get too indiscriminately judgy, but it seems like most films of that type tend to either be sort of frivolous and ugly, like the "Sex and the City" duology (calm down, some of us still like the show), or, failing that, they're about women fighting over men. So we tried to come up with some exceptions to those rules. It was, sadly, not easy.
Among my personal favorites is 1998's "The Last Days of Disco," Whit Stillman's look at young professional women in New York City at the end of the 1980s. It stars Chloe Sevigny and Kate Beckinsale as a couple of club-hoppers just out of college, coming to grips with their place in a predominantly male, ego-driven world that expects them to behave and look a certain way and accept some specific and suspect values. This one remains largely forgotten, mostly due to the misconception that it's about some snotty, stuck up girls (whatever that means) that just like to go dancing.
One of the best comedies with a strong female cast (in fact, there are
no men in it at all) is George Cukor's "The Women" from 1939, based on the
play by Clare Boothe Luce. Norma Shearer plays Mary Haines, wife to a
never-seen successful businessman who gets word through the manicurist
grapevine that said husband is having an affair with perfume counter shop girl
Crystal Allen (Joan Crawford). A gossip-hungry group of society ladies
swoops in to watch the fight, including Paulette Goddard, Hedda Hopper,
Joan Fontaine, and the wonderful Rosalind Russell, who deliciously
defines frenemy decades before the term appeared in the dictionary.
"The Women" does have some dated ideas about gender roles but its
cattiness, wit and charm are timeless. "Murphy Brown" creator Diane
English remade the film in 2008 with Meg Ryan and Eva Mendes as Mary and
Crystal, respectively. Entertainment Weekly's blog Pop Watch recently claimed that it was
possibly the worst remake of the last decade. We just think it's sad that it's come down to ranking the worst remakes.
We'd be remiss in not noting that Bridesmaids features a whole bunch of really great actresses and comediennes. We don't have time to list them all. Kristen Wiig stars, and she's been popular on SNL for years. You can check her out in movies like "Extract" and "Adventureland" and many more. Co-star Maya Rudolph was also on SNL for many years, and she's appeared in all sorts of films, from the silly-but-prescient "Idiocracy" to Robert Altman's "A Prairie Home Companion." It's also the final role for the legendary and recently-passed Jill Clayburgh, who you should definitely check out in films like "An Unmarried Woman" and "Silver Streak".
OK, we'll be back next week!
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.