I'll just let you know straight off the bat, with no preamble or fancy introduction, no artful lead-in to display my film critic expertise and massive intelligence, that this movie was not in fact good. At all. Not only is the entire media off-base in their lavish praises for the film, but their interpretation of it as some kind of feminist achievement or gender-barrier-breaker is entirely incorrect and rather insulting.
I admit the possibility that my expectations were too high. For one, I'm a big fan of the cast. Obviously the SNL women are talented and charismatic and deserving of leads. In addition I loved Melissa McCarthy for years as Suki St. James on Gilmore Girls, and I have a sincere devotion to Rose Byrne (from Sunshine, Damages, etc) who I believe will win an Oscar some day. Naturally, I was excited for this assemblage since I first saw the trailer a couple months back. And then when the reviews started coming out, glowing reviews that were not shy of words like 'hilarious', 'genius', 'monumental' and 'I peed in my pants' I had no doubts that these ladies had put out a movie I would love.
But then I actually saw it.
For one thing, the majority of the humor is disgusting. Yes, some of that was expected. I knew there was a food poisoning scene from the trailer, and that McCarthy would be obligated to do some gross fat jokes (cause a weekly sitcom comprised entirely of them is not enough apparently) but they seemed rather like harmless attempts at selling a Hangover-for-chicks theme while the actual movie meat would rely more on Kristen Wiig-type awkward dorky humor.
Unfortunately not. Instead we get an extended poisoning scene, with the cast puking on each other and having bowel movements in public. We get extended sex montages with bad jokes that just come off dirty and perverse and disturbingly violent. We get vulgar berating of 13-year-old girls and a post-credit sex video (that is completely unnecessary and unfunny) where once again McCarthy must portray how fat people have sex by doing some disturbing roleplay with a giant sandwich. 90% of the jokes in this movie are crude and off-putting, and while it may seem as if I have a thin skin, in all honesty I do not. I can stomach violence, gore, sex, crudity, but if there's nothing intelligent behind, no decent story or likable characters, if it is nothing but a woman puking on another woman's head for the sake of cheap laughs, its leaves an awful taste in my mouth.
However, it was not only the comedy that was disappointing and unsettling. By all accounts this film was a triumph for women in the entertainment industry and a sign of changing production policies; an all-female cast, written by women, incredibly well-reviewed, and doing great at the box office. Imagine my discomfort at realizing not a single relationship in the entire movie is healthy or equal or relevant. For instance, the man Maya Rudolph is marrying thus giving us the main plot device? We see him maybe twice, never with speaking lines, and we're assured by his sister (McCarthy) that he's a douchebag. Any conflict Rudolph experiences, any anxiety about this big step in her life, is solely about how it will change her relationship with her best friend. The man is seemingly incidental, and yet she tends to sublimate her entire personality to fit his life, suddenly becoming the WASPy country clubber that she used to make fun of.
Wiig's character is even worse. The movie opens with a long scene displaying her unhealthy relationship with Jon Hamm, who uses her for sex and insults her to her face while she bends over backwards to please him and be attractive to him and try and squeeze out some morsel of affection from him. It's insanely degrading, and while you put up with it expecting that inevitable triumph where she realizes what a bastard he is in the end and puts him down severely and in public, that never happens. Instead she bravely gets out of his Porsche when he asks for a blowjob. No satisfying speech, no physical gratification, not even any shame for Hamm's character. Very anticlimactic. (Sidebar: Jon Hamm needs to stop playing complete dickheads, because he is so entirely convincing that I kind of hate him now.)
Even when Wiig meets a decent guy, the bumbly local police officer that actually treats her with some respect, she automatically shits all over him (thankfully not literally, though that would not be out of place in this movie) before somewhat coming to her senses in the end. But then, in the final scene of the movie, when the wedding is over and he has appeared to drive her home and repair any gulf between them, the most bizarre thing happens. Instead of a kiss in the moonlight and a cut to credits, they decide to make some last minute jokes, and, being it's a cop car, he orders her into the backseat. Not only that, but he grabs her head and shoves her head in like she was a perp.
After supposedly going on some kind of psychological journey in which she needs to learn how to be brave enough to change her own life and not be mired in self-pity and self-destructive relationships, in the end she fails to show the most basic self respect and strength of character. It was a ridiculously unsettling final scene.
Other characters are similarly flawed, without any resolution of true growth of character. Rose Byrne's frigid bitch character is never truly shown to have a heart of gold nor to be accepted by the two main characters, and her complaints about a husband who never stays home and step-children who curse her off in public remain entirely unsettled in the end. Basically, she's still miserable as a wife and mother and makes up for it by burying herself in party planning other people's friendships. Melissa McCarthy's fat comic relief character has one redeeming scene wherein she is a good friend to Wiig, providing clear-cut moral guidance and a stern pep talk, but quickly goes back to farting and sex jokes. Critics called her a 'miraculous discovery' of comedic talent, showing just how tasteful our culture has become. Having seen her in Gilmore Girls as the sweet, beautiful, earnest, hilarious Suki, I find her new career completely disheartening.
All in all, not only was this movie a badly written, juvenile, tasteless failure at comedy, but it portrayed weak women who need men to give them some sense of self, have no dignity, and only have a story to tell when one of them is getting married. It's a shame, because there was such potential, but it just goes to show you: Never trust the critics.