Underachieving
“Bridesmaids” is a genre so rare it is practically in a category by itself: female buddy-movie raunch comedy. Those who are aficionados of television’s “Saturday Night Live” will recognize veteran comediennes Kristin Wiig and Maya Rudolph. They play best friends, Annie and Lillian, who can tell each other anything, including the messy details of their love lives. The men may come and go, but their friendship endures, and has since childhood.
But all that relational history is suddenly threatened by Lillian’s surprise engagement. It seems she’s marrying into money. (The groom is virtually nonexistent in this elaborate wedding, which is an extreme absence even for a unique chick flick.) She’s made new friends now, connected with his family, and Annie has been too self-absorbed to notice the growing distance between them. Annie has endured a lot of failures recently: her pastry shop went belly-up, and the fiancé who partnered with her disappeared after the bankruptcy. Annie works in a jewelry store now, but her heart isn’t in it. She keeps being scathingly honest to potential clients, which is an amusing use of put-down humor, but doesn’t endear her to her boss. She’s fired from that, and from her lease with her roommate, too, and, humiliated, she has to move back in with her Mom (Jill Clayburgh, who shows us all how to look good even after the magic age of full Social Security benefits). Annie has a “friend with benefits” (OK, they don’t even use that euphemism), Jon Hamm (always the charming cad but this time more of the latter and less of the former), but Annie fully realizes that’s going nowhere. In fact, her life is pretty much going nowhere right now, and to make matters worse, she gets pulled over for her taillights being out.
You guessed it. The cop flirts with her, and maybe things are starting to look up a little. But Annie is considerably adept at self-destruction. She even manages to sour that serendipitous relationship, then lets her testiness about being displaced in old friend Lillian’s life get the better of her, as Annie launches off into a profanity-filled, throw-and–break-stuff tirade at Lillian’s engagement party. Now Annie’s really isolated. And nobody cares.
It would be pretty sad, this self-pity party, except the screenplay here is determinedly and consistently juvenile. Bathroom humor abounds. And sex humor. (But no nudity, please, we’re mature women with body image issues.)
In the end, it’s about the strength of long-term BFF relationships, and the men are, if not obstructionists, at the very least, irrelevant and incidental.
Not so in “Hop,” which is everything “Bridesmaids” isn’t: sticky sweet, child-friendly, cute, sappy, and well-meaning. The Easter Bunny is like Santa at the North Pole: overseeing a candy-making operation that has to churn out enough, er, nourishment for literally everyone in the world---or at least, those who expect the Easter Bunny to arrive. Interesting that religion is never mentioned, though the term “Easter” is used frequently: herein lies the complete divorce of the secular from the religious meaning of Easter.
“Hop” is an animated movie with good heart: the heir apparent Easter Bunny is a nice friendly rabbit who really wants to be a drummer in a rock band. Fred (James Marsden is also a nice guy--- an underachiever who still lives with Mom and Dad, but dreams of doing something big---like helping the Father and Son Easter Bunny to reconcile, and thus making the dream happen once more to delighted children all over the world. Well, it’s terminally cute, and insults no one, if you ignore the excising of religion part.
Both movies are silly, on their own terms. One you can take your grandmother to see with you, the other you don’t want to admit to your grandmother that you not only saw it, you laughed your decorum off and are still chuckling about it.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Co-Pastor, United Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas