Travel Gear: Bridesmaids

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The past few months I’ve been watching (in addition to my favorites like The Walking Dead, The Glades, and Mad Men) wedding-related films and shows. Mo came over on January 22 and we kicked off the trend with a viewing of Bridesmaids.

Overall, I had a good time with Bridesmaids. I could see, too, why it was so popular—many women in America have had the experiences in the film: sleeping with a non-committal jerk, spending hundreds on a bad one-time-wear dress, feeling like a loser because a friend has beat you to the altar, failing at your life-long dream, working closely with women you wouldn’t give the time of day under normal circumstances. It’s universal on at least one level for everyone.

But still, the movie didn’t really leave me with that “wow, that was great!” impression; I had been entertained, but I wasn’t sated.

I figured out why when I sat down and watched the deleted scenes.

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Snacks for a viewing of Bridesmaids with my friend Mo.

The key to a complete story: everything that is mentioned needs to come back later. Although Bridesmaids did this most of the time—for example, Judy’s mention that she’s just gotten Castaway on Netflix comes back later when Annie is watching it (and feeling outcast herself, which is a perfect thematic match) and Annie’s refusal of her mother’s offer to move back in comes back later when she has no choice—there were a few key items I felt should have come back full circle and didn’t, which, in my opinion, hurt the film.

Before I launch into this, I’ll note that all of my comments are based on the unrated version, not the theatrical version.

The first instance: at the luncheon before the dress selection scene, Becca suggests she “set Annie up” with a date—yet nothing comes of it. In the deleted scenes, however, there’s a long sequence called “Blind Date,” in which Annie has a date with yet another jerk. We’re not sure if this is actually the “blind date” that Becca had in mind—since in the alternate version of the scene “Bachelorette Phone Call” Becca brings it up again—so much is made of it in the luncheon scene that I expected to see something. A simple cut of that luncheon-scene section would have eliminated the issue of the viewer feeling like something significant had been dropped.

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At the end of the film in Lillian’s Wedding sequence, there is a laser light show and Wilson Phillips takes the stage to perform. While, in the Bridal Shower scene, Annie gives Lillian a Wilson Phillips CD and it’s mentioned that this was Lillian’s favorite group when she was a teen, the effect doesn’t work as well as if the deleted scene called “Crazy Old Broad” was left in. In “Crazy Old Broad,” Annie facetiously tells Helen “I’ve already planned the whole wedding…[there’s gonna be a] laser show and Wilson Phillips is going to perform.” The largest bone of contention between Annie and Helen, who are both vying for bride Lillian’s attention as “best friend,” is Helen not only one-upping Annie, but stealing all of her ideas. The absence of this key scene in the final film takes away from the ending, in that there’s not only no “closure” between Annie and Helen, but it also just seems random (especially if viewers missed the CD moment, which doesn’t have enough of a lantern hung on it to make it memorable).

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The friendship between Annie and bride Lillian as well as Helen’s over-the-top gift of a trip toParis, though, is where the most threads were dropped.

We’ll start with Lillian and Annie’s friendship. In the final film, we see very little of their friendship before the engagement—a scene of them exercising in the park, and a scene of them eating in a diner. That’s pretty much it. In fact, I was confused about the “closeness” of these women and why it was so important to Annie that she be Lillian’s Maid of Honor, much less why Lillian would want Annie to be her Maid of Honor, especially since the relationship between Helen and Lillian seemed much stronger.

The insertion of the deleted scene “Shrimp Fork,” however, would’ve solved this problem. In “Shrimp Fork,” the bridesmaids are in a department store selecting items for Lillian’s registry. In this scene, which is quite lengthy, we see how Lillian and Annie really are cut from the same cloth; we see their common sense of humor and get a sense of their long history—and we also see that Helen and Lillian really don’t have that much in common. Insertion of this scene would answer a lot of questions about why Annie and Lillian are so important to each other in the first place.

Additionally, insertion of “Shrimp Fork” would also make Annie’s blow-up at the Bridal Shower, her subsequent ejection from the wedding party, and the final reconciliation between she and Lillian have more impact.

At the Bridal Shower, Helen gives Lillian the trip to Paris I’d mentioned earlier. “Bonjour,” another cut scene, shows Annie watching streaming video of Lillian and Helen gaily biking through the streets ofParis. Following, there are deleted scenes between Annie and her mother—“Different Friends,” “Shit Show,” and “Big Things” (all the same scene, just done slightly differently)—which drive home the point that Annie has been kicked out of the wedding and that she doesn’t know if Lillian’s back from Paris because she hasn’t spoken to her in weeks. Insertion of these two scenes in addition to “Shrimp Fork,” which I mentioned earlier, would have increased the situation’s emotional impact.

On a final note, Judy, Annie’s crazy mother, doesn’t really seem to have much of a role except for being “out there” and not really offering Annie any solid advice. In those deleted scenes I mentioned earlier (“Different Friends,” “Shit Show,” and “Big Things,”), however, Judy gives her daughter solid advice which Annie takes to heart, and it’s pretty clear her mother is an important character in the story: for all of her craziness, she does understand her daughter. Without the presence of one of those scenes, however, the one blatant line meant to obviously illustrate that Annie and her mother have both walked the same path (they both say “I need to wash the horse off my hands”), hangs in the air with no real purpose, and Annie’s mother seems to be in the film for no reason at all.

In many ways, a wedding on the horizon is a time when things come back to you, when stories come full circle. I found it interesting that given the subject of Bridesmaids, it fell short in a few places in that regard.

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