Musings After Seeing the Movie “Bridesmaids”

My husband invited me on a date tonight – dinner at our favorite diner, followed by a movie. The movie he had in mind was Bridesmaids, a comedy Universal Pictures released on Friday. My husband warned me it’s rated R, because he knew I likely would become uncomfortable with at least some aspect of the movie. And I was.

I also laughed so hard at some of the over-the-top gross-out humor in the movie that I was crying. And some of the events in the movie tugged at my heart. The movie also provoked me to question how best to live in a world that doesn’t always reflect my beliefs.

Bridesmaids is full of profanity as well as sex between unmarried couples. It also offers slapstick humor and a sweet, budding romance between the maid of honor (played by Saturday Night Live’s Kristen Wiig) and a state trooper. I was touched by the appearance of Jill Clayburgh in this movie. She plays the lead’s lonely divorced mother. (Clayburgh died before the film was released.) In short, I’d recommend this movie to my middle-aged friends.

But what troubles me is that this movie is being marketed as appropriate for older teens. The producer is the same guy who produced “Knocked Up,” and “The 40-year-old Virgin,” movies I have assiduously avoided. One review says: “Older teens, especially girls, may be drawn to the film’s R-rated antics and female-heavy cast.”

What is the world of relationships like in this movie? In Bridesmaids, every male-female relationship we see forming begins with sex, and then ends with the possibility of love or romance. Sex is in no way sacred here. The married women are miserable. Except for the bride-to-be, played by Maya Rudolph, the single ladies are unhappy, too.

Ultimately, the movie tells us a hook-up culture and crass materialism won’t make us happy. The good guy in the movie turns out to be a Wisconsin state trooper with a radar gun. But in order to send this message, we see plenty of gratuitous scenes of icky relationships. If you plan to see this movie, don’t bring the kids along.

Watching Bridesmaids provoked my thinking. It served as  a reminder to me. It made me wonder: how do we live in this broken world? How do we seek the face of Christ in those we encounter?

Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman answers this question much better than I can:

Stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine as you shine; so to shine as to be a light to others. The light, O Jesus, will be all from you. None of it will be mine. No merit to me. It will be you who shines through me upon others…. Make me preach you without preaching – not by words, but by my example and by the catching force, the sympathetic influence, of what I do – by my visible resemblance to your saints, and the evident fullness of the love which my heart bears to you.

Update: How come my comment wasn’t published?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07181529277715646835 Fran

    I have read this twice now and have so many things to say but can't seem to find the words. I will simply have to go with "thank you" because you have said so much with your post.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16021781602272064901 Allison

    Oh Fran: Please stop by again when you find the words. I am so interested to know your thoughts and responses. Have you seen the movie?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07181529277715646835 Fran

    Thanks Allison. I will say that I have not seen the movie. I don't get to go to the movies as often as I'd like. (Not that I am such a holy roller, but the last two films I have seen were Vision- about Hildgegard and then Of Gods and Men! So many monastic movies, so little time!!)I have seen the film pitched as a woman's version of The Hangover and that struck me. I admit to having seen and even laughed at, some of the really truly gross imagery and jokes of The Hangover. (See I am not all monastic movie all the time!)Do we need a woman's version of The Hangover?I think that the thing that really hit me in your post was the idea given in culture that all relationship springs from sex and not the other way around. Wow – that is a big thought and an important and essential thought.Relationship is at the heart and soul of who we are as humans, as Catholics and so forth. Not all relationships are about sex – or at least they should not be! So right there you had me thinking.And that so many of the female characters were miserable… another interesting element, but one I might need to see the movie to comment further on.Anyway, that is it for now. I have a paper to do and what do I love to do when I have a paper due… read blogs!! However, the Christology of Justin Martry calls and I must follow.As you likely know, I read often but comment rarely. I do love this blog – and I am grateful for all of your voices as presented here. Thank you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16021781602272064901 Allison

    Thanks Fran. Yes, it saddens me so much, this "hookup culture." I don't know if the movies exaggerate it or not. I know a lot of people that age who are longing for relationships and connections with others and who would be very unlikely to proceed with a "sex first" approach. But I do believe that for some (many?) that is the approach.

  • Anonymous

    I am just letting you know why I would never see this movie. 1. I would be supporting producers whose morally offensive product is a source of negative influence to young people, I would be contributing to the investors' profits which will enable them to continue to coarsen the culture and dumb it down. Father Groeschel, founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, has written extensively about the degradation of our culture and how our youth are being destroyed by the entertainment industry.2. I have a young teenager at home and I would be teaching him that it's OK for him, in a few years, to watch movies that are rated O by the USCCB as long as they "reflect the culture" and have a redeeming subplot.3. I am rebellious by nature and have a problem with accepting the "received wisdom" that patronizing morally offensive movies like Bridesmaids will help me to really understand and be aware of what is going on in the world. I am painfully aware!4. I don't think the Blessed Virgin is pleased with this…I think she is crying for the lost innocence of young people growing up today…they pay a high price for the multimillionaires who continue to produce the culture we are marinated in.5. If your pre teen kids and teenagers see you accommodating the culture they will also. I will never forget my Dad walking out of a movie that had a profanity laced scene…at the time I was embarrassed but it always stuck with me and influenced me greatly.God Bless!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01819831282677092730 Frank

    Hey Allison, thanks for a) going to this movie (which I never would have ever seen…chick flick!) and b) sharing your thoughts on it with our readers from a Catholic perspective.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16021781602272064901 Allison

    @Anon 12:07: Thanks for stopping by and for responding. There are folks who don't have a television or computer with Internet in their home for the same reasons you cite. I respect that. We do have TV, with cable, and we also have a computer at home. As for our own children, I am happy they do not see us "accommodating the culture," as you suggest we might. Our values are counter-cultural, as you might have picked up from my review or from my blog posts.Blessings to you and your loved ones.

  • Nick

    I've not seen the movie, but I'm shocked that a Catholic "Family Friendly" page would promote in any manner a movie filled with profanity and sex. This serves to not only poison innocent minds, it puts people in the near occasion of sin. (This is all aside from considering that the acting and plot are likely not much better than a "C")Given the secular nature of the movie, it assuredly wasn't even about exposing that lifestyle as wrong, but rather saying that it is "normal" and teens and young adults have to take that approach, except they should bank on finding 'Mr/Ms Right' in the process. Too often when somewhat informed and practicing Catholics "review" movies, they mistakenly think everyone else will watch the movie with the same critical eye and thus not be affected. Worse yet, they themselves don't understand the true notion of "romance," since the "romance" portrayed is secular-pagan in nature, which every informed Catholic should know is not inherently evil but necessarily tragic. For example, note how many "romance" movies are about a divorced person (often single-parent) finding "true love," glossing over the fact the children tragically have lost a parent for no good reason. True romance is about a relationship being founded upon common Catholic values, not 'warm fuzzies' for the atheist next door who, while polite, opposes basic morality.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01819831282677092730 Frank

    Nick,In no way did Allison endorse or promote this film. I don't even think you could say that this is a proper film review at all. Not like one done by a professional film reviewer, that is.What Allison has done is share with us a sense of recognition that dawns on the secular culture regarding fallenness. It's right there when she writes,Ultimately, the movie tells us a hook-up culture and crass materialism won't make us happy.How is that not a "family friendly" counsel to stumble upon in a Catholic blog? She even warns readers that this film isn't even remotely appropriate for teens, whom it is being marketed towards. Allison issues a clear Parent Alert with,But what troubles me is that this movie is being marketed as appropriate for older teens.I'm sure you mean well by your comment. But to ignore the secular culture, and turn away from it, and in the process calumniate it, is not what Christ did. To do so would be to ignore the huge field of souls whom Our Lord came to save. To attempt to save them is hard work. Work in which we need to roll our sleeves up in order to do properly.This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Of these I am the foremost. But for that reason I was mercifully treated, so that in me, as the foremost, Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life. 1 Timothy 1:15-16Here is a quote from someone else who knew a thing or two about writers and what they face whenever they write down their thoughts to share with others. You may have heard of these guys,It seems to me that Gilbert Chesterton at his baptism was visited by three fairies. Two good and one evil. The two good fairies were the fairy of fecundity of speech and the fairy of wide appreciation. The bad fairy was struck dead as she entered the church—and served her right. He was blessed in knowing nothing of the acerbities which bite into the life of writing men. —Hilaire BellocLooking at the world through the lens of our Faith in order to bring more souls to Christ is the mission of all Christians, all Catholics, and this blog.Allison's post helps accomplish that mission.Semper Fidelis

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07181529277715646835 Fran

    I read this comments with a mix of sadness… and, well let me leave it at sadness.Catholicism is marked by so many things, which is one reason I like to write about "why I am Catholic." (pun intended) One of the truly delineating things, with no disrespect for our Protestant brothers and sisters who see otherwise, is that we start with the "good." We do not start out thinking that all humanity is depraved, but rather that (with a h/t to Genesis), God made it and it is good.Good first, sin follows, but it always starts with the good. How else would we end up with the rich, deep and remarkable sacramental and incarnational faith we have today? That said, I will jump ahead to St. Paul who reminds us that God uses all things for good. All means all – and that is a tough one, isn't it? God uses all things for good. Period. God made it and it was good and God uses all things for good. That means, we as Catholics are not to retreat from the world but to cooperate with grace through the mediation of such grace through and in all things.If that means Allison saw a movie like Bridesmaids and wrote about how it was not of the cultural point of view that she holds as a Catholic woman and mother, are we to castigate her for seeing the movie? Oh how American Catholicism is saturated with a puritanical streak. Shall we get Allison a scarlet "B" for seeing Bridesmaids? How – with all due respect – ridiculous.No Allison presents what she saw through her unique and powerful and very Catholic lens. Thanks be to God, because it is good.Frank has really said all this, likely in a more elegant way than I have, but I felt like I had to weigh in.My other pet peeve, if I might is this – if someone has something strong to say, please do not comment as anonymous. That is not *at all* Catholic and it is uncharitable. To appear as a nameless and faceless person demeans God because you are not putting forth who and what God has loved into being.Especially if you have something critical to say. Critical does not have to be bad; it should always be accompanied by a name. Nick at least put a first name.I write under my own full name at all times. It will say Fran, but it links back to my blog. If I am to speak as a Catholic in the world, it will be to certainly speak as the person God created. I have nothing to hide and that I find makes me much more charitable than I might be if I were hidden.P.S. – @Anonymous regarding point #4, are you sure you know what our Blessed Mother thinks and feels? That may not seem charitable, but I really take offense at people hurling things like that out here.May we all find and be at peace as we literally "re-member" this mystical Body of Christ in the world. God bless and amen.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07181529277715646835 Fran

    I have returned, I am afraid I was sharp tongued. We do start with good however and that is a gift… and God uses all for good in the end, we may only respond and cooperate. I see Allison as having done just that.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14444361367208483037 Ruth Ann

    Hello, Allison, I believe everyone has to consider what he or she can handle—emotionally and spiritually—given his or her strengths and weaknesses. Speaking for myself, a life-long, well-educated, practicing Catholic, I have to opt for avoiding books, movies, and television programs that show the seamiest sides of our culture or any culture in a way that gives approval. Why? Seeing movies like the one you described affects me. It subtly changes me, and not for the better. I am weak in that way. Partaking of these things pulls me down. So I stay away. For me, it really would be a near occasion of sin.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16021781602272064901 Allison

    @Ruth Ann: I can appreciate that very much. As for me, it has been at least two or three years since I saw a movie or tv program such as this. Much of it was unpleasant to me, but some of it was laugh-til-you-cry funny. Maybe it's my long years as a journalist, where we are trained to be observers, but I do not feel my spirit has been damaged in any way by seeing such a movie. In fact,the movie gave me a chance to reflect and consider what values teens are being exposed to in the larger world and to appreciate more fully the importance of my role as a Christian. Blessings to you,Allison

  • Anonymous

    We are the Church… This is from Gaudium et Spes…"In every age, the church carries the responsibility of reading the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel, if it is to carry out its task. In language intelligible to every generation, it should be able to answer the ever recurring questions which people ask about the meaning of this present life and of the life to come, and how one is related to the other. We must be aware of and understand the aspirations, the yearnings, and the often dramatic features of the world in which we live."

  • Anonymous

    Just a comment. I have seen "40-year-old Virgin" and "Knocked Up." You know what? Both actually have good, decent messages. Not to give away the ending, but the virgin's character actually goes on to have a healthy, monogamous, married relationship. His is the only healthy one in the film.And "Knocked Up?" The woman chooses to go through with the pregnancy despite the abortion pressure from her friends. At the end of the story, there's hope for a long-term, permanent relationship between mother and father.Both films, while raunchy and funny, have surprising moral messages. In some arenas, the dirctor was castigated for his "conservative" message.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15724518800430532026 Sandy C.

    Allison, I started to comment when I first read this post and didn't. Thank you for your comments and your review of this movie. We watch a LOT of movies at our house as my husband loves them. They range from old westerns to modern science fiction to foreign films. My husband's criteria is simply whether or not the movie is well made and whether or not it makes a worthwhile contribution to the "conversation". We rarely go to the theater and so we didn't see "The Hangover" for a long time after it was released and when we did, we surprised ourselves by laughing out loud so much. It's definitely not our usual kind of humor. I'm guessing "Bridesmaids" was the same for you. Sometimes it just feels so good to laugh.I agree with you as a high school teacher (and mother of young adults) it can be valuable to understand and stay current on what is happening "out there" in the culture at large.Thanks again.

  • Anonymous

    Just don't go see it. You endorse it when you pay for it. If Christian adults were responsible about their faith they wouldn't pay for the things that this modern world tempts them with. If things aren't making money, they go away. Then you wouldn't have the problem of keeping your children away from it. The excuse of, "Well, non Christians are going to buy it anyway," is just that, an excuse. Supposedly 77% of America still classifies themselves as believing in God. If we all did it the right way, then we wouldn't have these problems with our culture. A long shot, but always worth praying for. And it starts with us.By the way, I'm not attacking you. Lest I be a hypocrite, I will share that last night my wife watched a movie on Netflix that I refused to watch. But it's my fault, because I put it on the queue. Don't think the Amish have as much of a problem as us Catholics do. If we banded together to fight the modern world, we'd be happier, and Jesus would be much happier.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16021781602272064901 Allison

    Anon: Thanks for inspiring me to write yet another post. In the meantime, please see our guidelines and our mission: “I mean to be simply personal and historical: I am not expounding Catholic doctrine, I am doing no more than explaining myself, and my opinions and actions.” -Blessed John Henry Newman, Apologia Pro Vita Sua

  • Anonymous

    Sex is not sacred in this movie? I think Jeremiah saw that coming.

  • Anonymous

    Please don't judge someone who chooses anonymous as their profile. It is offered by the blog and "anonymous" may have a solid reason for not using his/her given name.Have any of you read Infinitive Bandwidth (Encountering Christ in the Media) by Dr. Eugene Gan, foreword by Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J. and endorsed by John Patrick Cardinal Foley, Presidennt Emeritus, PontificalCouncil for Social Communications? If not, I suggest that you do.Dr. Gan's book presents the Catholic Church's documents/teaching on communications and the media. Dr. Gan is an associate professor of interactive media, communications at Franciscan University of Steubenville.I believe Dr. Gan would be in full agreement with Anonynous based on his 7 media keys.

  • http://tonyrossi.blogspot.com Tony Rossi

    Thanks for your comments about the movie, Allison. While I can't say I'll see "Bridesmaids," I appreciate your comments about the things you liked about the film and those you didn't. We need people like yourself who can look at culture through a Catholics lens, then discern and share what's good and what isn't. The reason secular culture doesn't reflect more Catholic values is because Catholics have abandoned secular culture. I'm glad to read that you're 'in, but not of.' Keep up the good work.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07181529277715646835 Fran

    Now there is a Rossi who is more eloquent than this one! Thank God for Tony's brief comment that essentially says what took me a lot more words and a lot of angst!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17887429052179249473 Dwija {House Unseen}

    Avoiding things because they may contribute to the financial gain of people whose values don't align with ours is an extremely difficult principle to uphold. At any point a product we've purchased or a website we've visited may end up benefiting a person who chooses to sin. The argument of avoiding certain films for this reason reminds me of an adult who once warned me against ever being an organ donor. Their argument was that if a person lives because of my donated organ and then goes on to sin, their sins become my responsibility. I can't agree with that.What I can agree with is a faithful Catholic mother and wife who spends time with her husband and keeps "in touch" with what her teenagers may come in contact with. Ignorance may be bliss, but it's not always the best choice.And to boot, Allison's insightful commentary was enough to make me realize that this is not the kind of movie I would enjoy. So any suggestion that she's solely promoting the film are misplaced.Thank you for your honesty, Allison.

  • Anonymous

    When the movie advertisement so obviously shows women with little respect for sex or for themselves, by dress and position, and when the movie industry has already given it an "R" rating, which means that the Catholic position would be much stricter, why would you give tacit approval and financial support by attending?It had to assault your eyes and ears and sensibilities. This is not a prudish or Puritan statement, just reality.If you saw Mary in the next row, would you be shocked and embarrassed, or just pass her your popcorn? And "anonymous" is easier when the URL won't go through. Just sayin'.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16751516602395247675 Randy

    There is a point to be made here. Some movies are just too offensive be be seen. I know this would have been quickly put in that category 40 years ago. Now we have trouble going there. Why is that? Have we gotten more enlightened or have we lowered our standards? Maybe a little of both. Personally I have decided to skip the gross-out comedy genre. I know some of these movies have some good but I have decided the price isn't worth paying. But I don't see why everyone has to make that choice. Certainly the stuff I do watch often makes me wonder. Should I exclude more? Where do I draw the line? I do think we under-estimate how much these things effect our thinking. Especially in the way we think about sex in our private thoughts. It is meant to be sacred and we cannot profane the sacred without diminishing it in some way.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16021781602272064901 Allison

    Randy: I agree. I think there is tremendous value in questioning – as opposed to what many folks do – just watch and laugh. I know more than one teen girl in my aquaintance who found this movie so very very funny without any pause to reflect on the values it promotes. Discernment is so important. A steady diet of this kind of "entertainment" would really be awful and it is my personal opinion our culture has become very very coarse, at least when it comes to tv shows and movies. The questions I ask myself is: how can I continue my journey as a Christian, knowing God willed us all from nothing into being? How best to respond? how best to reflect the gaze of Christ to others?

  • Anonymous

    Dwija,You are mixing apples and oranges. By patronizing a morally offensive movie you are directly contributing to the producer's, director's and investors' profits which enourages Hollywood to continue to produce offensive and objectionable movies. The movie is rated objectionable and therefore in and of itself is immoral; donating an organ is a good thing which essentially has nothing to do with sin. If I sell someone a knife and they choose to kill somone with it, the relationship is so removed that I have no responsibility for this sin. The principle of not cooperating with evil– although difficult– is attainable. It is the challenge for Christians in today's culture of death–death to the principle of human dignity and sexuality. (Read Pope John Paul 11's Theology of the Body and ask yourself if this movie reflects our beloved Pope's view on human dignity. Donating an organ to help sustain life is totally different than choosing to promote practices that ultimatly could lead to abortion(pre-marital sex). Because so many Catholics have not been formed properly, their discerment is skewed. From the review I read regarding this movie, pre-marital sex is sensationalized. I know as a parent consultant from a youth group that Catholic parents are instructing thir teens to use condoms because the parents now accept this type of conduct as standard. Media has a powerful influence on adults also.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02647220453777040327 Paula

    Thanks Allison, for this post. It is nice to see intelligent commentary on popular culture in a Catholic blog. BTW, I did see "Knocked Up", and was impressed by the pro-life message embedded amongst the raunchiness. The main characters (especially the young father) managed to rise above their selfishness and immaturity and step up to accept their responsibility for the new little life coming into the world. Interestingly enough, despite the sexual content, the drug references, and the obscene language, this was a film that I encouraged my young adult children to see.Thanks again – you are the reason I love this blog!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01819831282677092730 Frank

    See Allison? Paula just puts up with me. ;-D

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02647220453777040327 Paula

    Frank – HA! OK, OK…you are the OTHER reason I love this blog!


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