I am happy to say the Bridesmaids ripple effect is still going strong. Kristin Wiig’s comedic masterpiece recently become Judd Apatow’s highest-grossing movie. A sequel is already in the works. And some feminist film critics are hailing it as the savior of female-driven films. That’s good news. Really good news. But you know what else Bridesmaids has accomplished? It has launched the gorgeous, hilarious Melissa McCarthy into superstardom.
IndieWire’s Women in Hollywood blog hopped straight from the theater to the keyboard to praise McCarthy’s turn in Bridesmaids, and they hit the nail on the head:
While Bridesmaids might be a breakthrough for women in comedy, McCarthy does a great service to all of us who are not stick figures. She shows a woman who is fun and sexual and raunchy and real and ready to beat the crap out of you on a moment’s notice. That’s what was so great about her character, you had no idea what was coming next. So refreshing.
Refreshing and profitable.
Apatow has already cast McCarthy in his next writing/directing venture, a Knocked Up “pseudo-sequel” starring Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann and Megan Fox. McCarthy will play a parent at the school attended by the Rudd/Mann children. She’s also set to star in another Annie Mumolo-penned comedy, in which she attempts to steal the Stanley Cup for her ailing husband. And she’s in talks for Reese Witherspoon‘s Who Invited Her?
In their profile on Anna Faris back in April, The New Yorker painted a clear-eyed picture of the struggles funny women face in Hollywood. One agent told the magazine that men would rather “prep for a colonoscopy than experience a woman’s point of view, particularly if that woman drinks or swears or has a job or an orgasm.” Another agent echoed the sentiment, claiming that for a comic actress to succeed, male viewers have to “want to nail her.”
With the tide of Bridesmaids at her back, McCarthy seems to be sailing outside those confines. She’s not a stick-figure who markets her sexuality as a balm to men who are threatened by clever women. Her Bridesmaids character aimed at bawdy, not bangable. But her raunchiness wasn’t just a gag; her confidence and heart were the catalysts of the film’s heartwarming resolution.
Melissa McCarthy has always been a cult TV favorite, but now she’s the actress who stole the show in the highest-grossing female-led comedy of all-time. Here’s hoping she can leverage that success to leading-lady status. It won’t be easy; it never is for women in Hollywood — but if anyone can do it, it’s Sookie St. James.