Character: Megan, played by Melissa McCarthy
Credits: Before Bridesmaids, probably best known for Gilmore Girls and Mike & Molly, though she started off in the Groundlings. As far as her reputation among comics goes, this interview is worth reading.
Plot points: Megan is one of the eponymous bridesmaids in this female-centric, Kristin Wiig-centric comedy. At first you might think she’s the obligatory token fat bridesmaid that is going to be the butt of a lot of fat jokes, but she is really an astonishing character who basically steals the movie. (Or she would, if Kristin Wiig weren’t also so good in it.)
Stereotypes: The trailer had me worried. She’s the one most excited about the food at the Brazilian restaurant, and the first one to have gastrointestinal distress (though it eventually strikes everyone, her “I’m not confident which end that came out of” line is the one in the trailer). But ultimately, the character defies stereotypes: she’s smart, she’s independent, she’s rich, she’s brave, and she’s sensible. She is the character who (literally and figuratively) knocks some sense into our mopey heroine, Kristin Wiig, in one of the movie’s best scenes. She is honestly a joy to watch.
Sex/Romance/Attractiveness: In the sequence on the plane, she’s shown aggressively hitting on her seatmate (played by her real-life husband) and this sexual aggressiveness is played for laughs. There’s also a joke in which sex involves a sandwich, although by the time this joke comes up, my sense is that the audience is totally on Team Megan, and you’re laughing with her, not at her.
Fat jokes: There are a few (like “I naturally just don’t bloat” at the restaurant, which is meant to be ironic). Again, the reason I found them forgivable is because fat is not the be-all and end-all of this character, and most of the jokes involving her (and there are a lot) don’t involve fat at all. (My favorite one is probably her driving past Annie after the bridal shower, which I won’t spoil.) Admittedly it’s been a while since I saw the movie, so if I’m forgetting anything, hit me up in the comments.
The bottom line: McCarthy is basically playing the Zach Galafinakis part in this movie, and she does it brilliantly. There are a few jokes involving size or food, but Megan never, ever feels like a generic “fat girl” character. She feels like a real comedic creation. In that same interview, Rose Byrne says, “Melissa is nothing at all like Megan. That’s not hiring someone to do what they do; that’s a real performance. Melissa’s beautiful and feminine, but Megan’s tone—it’s almost like she’s a coach. There’s no doubt in her voice. For me a lot of the comedy comes from the tension between the wildness of her ideas and the way she would say them with such authority and confidence and speed.”
Rating on the offense-o-meter (10 being Norbit): 2
But how’s the movie?: You can probably already tell that I enjoyed it. In fact, I laughed so hard my water broke! (Okay, that’s probably not true, but my water did break in the parking lot right after we saw the movie. I was really glad we’d made it all the way through; it would have sucked to miss it.) Really hilarious, and a terrific rejoinder to the “women aren’t funny” trope. I can’t wait to see Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids 2. And congratulations to her on her Emmy nomination! Now that I know what McCarthy can do, I almost want to watch Mike & Molly.
Posted by mo pie