(Published October 26, 2016)
I sometimes read movie reviews, or comments left by people on entertainment related blogs and forums, such as IMDB, and wonder,
“Did this reviewer or commentator even watch the same movie I did? It sure as hell doesn’t seem like it.”
After I saw the movie ‘Bridesmaids’ on TV for the first time in 2015, I liked it so much, I wanted to learn more about it. I looked up more information about it, including information on actors Kristen Wiig, Chris O’Dowd, and other people involved with the film.
I also wanted to read reviews of the movie to find out what people thought of it. (I’m not sure why, but I’ve always found movie and music reviews fascinating and interesting.)
I came across all sorts of stuff, including this movie review:
Bridesmaids (review) by MaryAnn Johanson via FlickFilosopher – May 2011
The author of that review, Johanson, is a feminist who wants to see Hollywood crank out movies that accurately depict the lives of women – especially their sex lives. Especially if they are over-weight.
Johanson seems to feel that showing a woman’s sex life accurately means showing nudity – which she denies in the review, but that’s what it comes down to, which she reveals in this comment she left to someone else under her review:
[comment by Johanson]
“I’d love it if Hollywood — and America — would discard its hangups about sex and nudity. Until that happens, we could at least be offering the pretense that people in bed together for the purposes of sex are nude.”
/// end excerpt ///
Johanson wants to see nudity and raunch – which, had that been done, would have made ‘Bridesmaids’ an X-rated affair, not an R-rated project.
Based on Johanson’s criticisms and observations of this movie, I am left wondering if she and I even saw the same film.
Which is my way of nicely saying she’s one of those people who did in fact watch the same movie as I did, but was apparently too – I don’t know, out of it, ignorant, or driven by her hobby horses and pet causes – to follow the script, plot, and character motivations, or to see those things clearly.
Because she sure as hell arrived at some very wrong or weird conclusions about aspects of the movie, its plot, or its characters.
I find it strange and distasteful that so many liberal feminists consider having sex the only sexual choice that is empowering for women. I rarely see liberal feminists promote the notion that it’s acceptable, feminist, or equally empowering, for a woman to choose to be sexually abstinent.
The author of this movie review I am critiquing here, Johanson, is the sort of feminist who apparently doesn’t consider being sexually abstinent a valid, feminist choice for women.
While I do believe in equality for women, I am hesitant to apply the “feminist” label to myself, because the term comes with a lot of baggage I do not want to be associated with. I am right of center politically and have fairly traditional values, while a lot of people tend to associate the term “feminist” with a woman being left wing and socially progressive.
On to my thoughts regarding Johanson’s ‘Bridesmaids’ review…
Johanson feels that the Megan character, played by McCarthy (who I wrote more about here – vis a vis her role in ‘Bridesmaids’) was used to ridicule over-weight people. I didn’t pick up that vibe at all in the movie and think she’s over-reaching.
It really perturbs Johanson that the Annie character is shown with her bra on in the sex scenes with the Ted (played by John Hamm) character, who is a skeezy, womanizing, dirt bag.
I also saw people complaining about this bra-wearing thing in the sex scenes in the ‘Bridesmaids’ movie on other discussion boards and blogs: that a woman was shown in a bra during a sex scene didn’t bother me, and I didn’t get obsessed about it or hung-up on it.
Who gives a flip if the Annie character was wearing a bra during her bedroom scenes with Ted? Get over it, America.
Johanson is annoyed by the bodily function humor in the movie, as was I.
As I said in this previous Bridesmaids-related post,
I too dislike bodily function, gross-out humor in movies and wish Hollywood would stop resorting to such content.
However, it is my understanding (and I am aware that some on the internet dispute this) that the “gross out” humor scenes in ‘Bridesmaids’ were not in the original script that was written by two women (Wiig and Mumolo) but were inserted by the male director, which you can read more about here:
Here are a few excepts from the review written by Johanson (source: FlickFilosopher), and I’ll critique this farther below:
“Now, they’re [Annie and Ted – played by Wiig and Hamm are] in bed together, they’ve been having sex… and yet she’s wearing her bra.
If I’m having sex with Jon Hamm and he’s got his hands all over me, there’s no way in hell I’m gonna allow any clothing to come between his hands and my body.
So Bridesmaids is perfectly content to give us unfettered looks at women in pain — vomiting their insides out, smashed out of their skulls and embarrassing themselves with their intoxicated public antics — but cannot bring itself to give us an unvarnished look at female sexual pleasure.
I’m not talking about nudity: I’m not suggesting that we needed to see Kristen Wiig’s nipples to understand how goddamn hot it is to be in bed with Jon Hamm.
I’m saying if it wants to be honest about how a character like Annie is not desperate to be married and just wants to fuck the likes of Jon Hamm — and yes, it is refreshing that Bridesmaids even goes as far as it does in this respect — then it really needs to show us.”
/// end excerpt of movie review ///
Johanson completely missed the point of some of the film’s story lines.
A visitor to Johanson’s blog also picked up on that and left her this post, with which I totally agree:
By Tyler Foster
I dunno, I’d say you misread the Jon Hamm material.
To me, she [Annie] seems to be trying to convince herself she’s getting enjoyment out of it because he’s [Ted is] physically attractive, but he’s terrible at what he’s doing.
As far as I could tell, the sex she has with him is all meant to be kind of awkward and unfulfilling, but she keeps doing it because it makes her feel better than being completely single.
/// end excerpt ///
The movie reviewer, Johanson, then steps in and debates with this person about these points under his post, revealing even more so that she totally misunderstood the movie’s plot about Annie’s love life and Annie’s choice of men.
Johanson clearly misunderstood why the Annie character was with the Ted character and why Annie was having sex with the guy.
Johanson is one of those feminists who uses terms such as “sex positive,” who believes in that concept, who seemingly partially defines, or understands, that term to mean, “women who have casual sex, enjoy casual sex, and don’t feel guilty about it.”
And, apparently, in Johanson’s world, she would also add this qualifier:
“…even if the guy she is having casual sex with is shown to be terrible at sex, is a selfish, sexist jerk – so long as I think he’s hot and sexy!! OMG I would love to boink a man who looks like Jon Hamm no matter how trashy and awful he is, and any woman would and should share my view on this.”
Which is an attitude that leaves me completely perplexed.
No, most women would not find sexual un-fulfillment or sexual humiliation empowering, enjoyable, or fun, even if the dude they are having that horrible, humiliating sex with is a physical clone of actor Jon Hamm.
THE TED – ANNIE SEX SCENES
During the sex scenes themselves (which were edited, by the way, so there is no nudity shown), one can tell from the facial expressions on Annie’s face that Ted’s moves on her are weird, nor are they pleasurable, and they are not erotic or a turn-on.
At another point in one of their first sex scenes, Annie is straddling Ted in bed, asking him if he would like to “slow down,” but he insists that she go faster. (It’s implied that Annie would prefer going slower.)
Clearly, what Annie wants or prefers is of no concern to Ted.
Ted is selfish and self-absorbed in the bedroom, as well as out of the bedroom. (But Johanson apparently feels that Annie should still feel honored or turned on to be having sex with this creep. That’s some messed up “feminist” logic right there.)
Ted can be heard even earlier in this scene asking Annie to “cup his balls.”
One can only imagine what other skeevy, weird, or gross sexual requests he has made of Annie before (but reviewer Johanson would probably find it an honor to handle Hamm’s balls, even if Hamm comes wrapped in the persona of a womanizing, shallow, insensitive, piece of scum such as Ted).
MOVIE MADE IT CLEAR ANNIE WAS NOT ENJOYING SEX WITH TED
The next day, after having sex with Ted, Annie goes to meet her friend Lillian at a coffee shop.
Annie admits to Lillian at this coffee shop meeting that she had sex with Ted and implies she performed oral sex on Ted.
It is further indicated by Annie and Lillian that performing oral sex on a man is not (NOT NOT NOT) something that Annie (or Lillian) likes to do (by way of their, “Men should wait for a woman to offer to do that, and if she doesn’t offer it, don’t bring it up” remark).
It is made pretty freaking, abundantly clear in this coffee shop scene that Annie only performed this sexual act on Ted to keep his favor, not because she enjoyed it.
Lillian tells Annie, “After you spend time with Ted, you always feel bad about yourself. I think you should make space in your life for a guy who will treat you well. Any guy would be stoked to be your man.”
Lillian tells Annie that she feels the only reason Annie is dating Ted, who is a jerk, is because Annie has low self esteem, feels bad about herself, and is using Ted as a way to punish herself.
Lillian further drives this point home by telling Annie, “Ted told you that you need dental work. Ted is an asshole.”
I mean, how much more clearly do you need it spelled out? Ted is an asshole. He’s selfish in the bedroom (and out of it).
The only reason Annie is acting as a recurrent one-night-stand to this guy is that she is depressed, has low self esteem, and feels if she does not keep sexually servicing this creep, he will dump her – but she’s hoping he will become a steady boyfriend.
Another reason: Annie is also holding on to the same dream a lot of women do: to date a guy who’s conventionally good-looking and wealthy (Ted lives in an expensive-looking home and drives a Porsche).
But does Johanson, the reviewer, get any of that? No.
All Joanson can do is stare in wonder at the screen that Jon Hamm is so super fine sexy that she would give anything to be boinking him herself – which is, gee, the same rationale Annie is using as to why she is staying with the Hamm character who is treating her like garbage.
Ted continually refers to Annie as his “number three” through-out the movie. That is, he is letting her know that he has two other women he is sleeping with, and she is not even his first choice.
Why would Johanson find such a piggish man attractive? Why would she want to sleep with a guy who is so cavalier about women, who doesn’t care that he is using them sexually?
As another commentator put it at the FlickFilosopher site:
Comment by Heartbot to Johanson:
I’m just wondering if we were watching the same sex scenes. Because the opening sex scene? Everything about it was awkward and not at all pleasurable, at least not for Annie.
And the scene where he “very sweetly and very hotly caresses her breast”? The joke there was that there was nothing hot or stimulating about what he was doing.
That what he was doing was in fact really bad.
The point of this whole “relationship” between Annie and Ted was to illustrate that Annie was settling for a person and a “relationship” far beneath her because she was insecure and under-valuing herself. Not that, you know, Jon Hamm is a great lover.
Honestly, I’m sort of disturbed that you think that’s what constitutes pleasurable sex or a hot caress.
I didn’t get anything out of this movie that it was supposed to be explicitly sex-positive.
I mean, yes, it accurately depicts that a single woman in her 30s has sex with people who aren’t her boyfriend and is non-judgmental about it. But…I’m not really getting where you got “sex-positive” from that. It’s just sex-accurate.
//// end excerpt ////
And this commentator gets it (also from FlickFilosopher):
Comment by Leila Jane:
Okay…I just saw this, and. What?? Watch the beginning of the movie again. I think you might be blinded by the hotness of the actual Jon Hamm.
Those scenes are supposed to show what an insensitive douche and terrible lover he is!
Also, he was so not sweetly caressing her breast? Watch that scene again, seriously. It’s an hilarious joke, which I won’t spoil here, but he’s not being sweet.
Also, she’s wearing a bra because (spoiler alert) she got up before him to go brush her teeth, do her hair, and put on lipstick and sexy lingerie, so she could go back to bed and pretend that that’s how she naturally looks when she wakes up in the morning.
Plus, if the Jon Hamm character from this movie had his hands all over me? I would want as many layers of clothing between him and me as possible. Ew.
Also, she’s topless later in the movie.
//// end excerpt ////
I am stunned that a self-proclaimed feminist movie reviewer can so very badly mis-read a woman character’s actions and motivations in a movie.
I think the script for ‘Bridesmaids’ made it more than clear that Annie was not enjoying the strange, acrobatic sex she was having with Ted.
The movie made it plain that the Ted character was a selfish jerk who did not care about Annie’s feelings, her needs, or her sexual preferences.
The Ted character was meant to stand out as a contrast to the police officer character, who was played by actor Chris O’Dowd, who treated Annie with kindness.
Sad to say, O’Dowd, who played the nice cop in the movie, Rhodes, has shown himself to be equally as wrong in misunderstanding the Annie character.
(Time permitting, more on that subject in an upcoming post or two on this blog, Part 2 / 3.) Update: Here’s part 3 –
(Part 3) Does Actor Chris O’Dowd Even Understand the Annie Character or Feminism? – Feminism, Sluttiness, Why Women Date Jerks, and Annie Walker in Bridesmaids – Did We Even See The Same Movie? – Re: Bridesmaids