Following the box office success of Bridesmaids, there has been a lot of talk surrounding the changing roles of women in comedy.
By all accounts Bridesmaids didn’t stick to the formula which makes for a box office smash, the central cast are all female, and this fact alone is something which makes the film somewhat of a boundary breaker. But even more than this, it’s actually laugh out loud funny, and it’s the women who are getting these laughs!
If we look back at the comedy genre during the last 10 years the highest grossing have been as follows: Meet the Fockers ($279m), The Hangover ($277m), Bruce Almighty ($242m), My Big Fat Greek Wedding ($241m), Wedding Crashers ($209m), What Women Want ($183), Hitch ($180m), Elf ($173m), Meet the Parents ($166), The Proposal ($164).
One out of ten of these films has a female lead, the other nine only represent women as being defined by her man or quite frankly, off her rocker and playing a very attractive, but ultimately subsidiary, character. Very few of these women generate the laughs independently or are seen as being funny in their own right. Instead, they are quite often the straight character for whom the comedy happens around.
Germaine Greer seems to think that this phenomenon is because women don’t need laughs. Funniness is seen as a trait which males adopt in order to get the girl whereas girls rely on the gifts Mother Nature bestowed on them to attract a man and so inherently women are put on the sidelines to be nothing more than a pretty face. However, is it evolution which is to blame for the lack of female comedy in these films or is it the fact that the overwhelming majority of writers of these films have been male?
This is where Bridesmaids has also bucked the trend with a team of two female writers, Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo. And low and behold, females can infact be funny! Who knew?!
My prediction is that Bridesmaids will lead the way for more female lead comedies in the future, getting women away from the undeveloped, “stand there and look pretty” roles they’ve been forced to occupy up to now, and instead really driving the comedy themselves without the assistance of a man.
If we take a closer look at the films driving this change of direction we can already see a significant shift in the messages these films deliver about the role a female ought to adopt in her life. We see Kristen Wiig continually messing up, having a tantrum at her best friend’s bridal shower, not quite being able to find her way in any area of her life in Bridesmaids , Cameron Diaz as the cigarette smoking, not giving a shit Bad Teacher and Jennifer Anniston giving what is cited to be one of her strongest performances as a bad girl with the execution to do whatever the hell she wants in order to satisfy her somewhat deviant sexual needs in Horrible Bosses.
These women are allowed to mess up, make mistakes and act, if we’re honest, exactly like men have been acting in comedy for the past decade. And in my opinion it’s a breath of fresh air for women everywhere to see females on screen demonstrating that they have flaws, they’re just like you and I and sometimes their ever perfect lives and appearances aren’t quite so perfect.
In September we also have the release of What’s Your Number starring Anna Faris as the ever single Ally who has got through a string of men and is still no closer to finding the infamous, and rather notorious, “one”. Already it looks as it this film will be another film in the sub genre to propel the idea that a woman is perfectly able to generate laughs (and box office success) without relying upon a male.