Revenge of the Bridesmaids (2010) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
26Apr/110

Revenge of the Bridesmaids (2010)

Andrew COMMENTARYSo it turns out that Atom Egoyan's early features are a bit difficult to get a hold of, the only one I own is roughly eight movies in and it's not the best place to start.

Where' s a fella to turn when something like this happens?  To the comforting embrace of ABC Family and one of the worst DVD release weeks that I've had to work through.  Strap yourselves in folks, it's a week of direct-to-DVD films or ported copies cleaned up for digital consumption after being broadcast on television.

Today I'll be tackling this interestingly nasty little bit of business called Revenge of the Bridesmaids.  It initially aired in 2010 as part of ABC Family's line-up of ostensibly family friendly entertainments.  The involvement of Raven-Symone, she of the Nickelodeon/Disney school of smarmy acting and mugging didn't exactly leave me with much hope.  Neither did the plot, which begins in media res with Abigail (Symone) and her friends Parker (Joanna Garcia) and Rachel (Chryssie Whitehead) posing for mugshots and asking the audience if we want to know how they ended up here.

The quick answer to that question is that Abigail and Parker are horridly vindictive people, partly because of a childhood spent with the vain and spoiled Caitlin (Virginia Williams).  We get a bit of a prologue showing some examples of that behavior and that Abigail and Parker became successful by writing and acting (respectively, though really that could be interchangeable) and that Rachel is secure in the best relationship known to humankind with a bland slab of man-hunk know simply as Tony (Lyle Brocato).  Abigail and Parker come back home to Louisiana after their escapades in New York City to find that Tony is in the arms of Caitlin and Rachel was somehow roped into being Caitlin's Maid of Honor.  So Abigail and Parker, being the great people they are, decide to break up the impending marriage for the sake of their friend.

Your horrible protagonists ladies and gentlemen.

Alright, before I delve into the interesting implications that this movie presents, something to note.  This film is competently put together and, given the nature of the material, really not that badly acted (even Ms. Symone tones down a bit).  There's a bit too much of the country-pop for my tastes blended into the scenes to provide an emotional undercurrent, but not so much that it became distracting.  It's lead characters are horrible people, but the film is in on this to a certain extent and actually provide a bit of Tarantino-esque meta-commentary to excuse their behavior in some ways.  Granted, it's more meta by way of Scream than, say, Hot Fuzz but it's not horrid.

Finally, TV movies can be every bit as effective, well-done and thought provoking as their big-screen cousins.  I couldn't have reviewed some of Bergman's best movies if this wasn't the case, many people swear by the BBC rendition of Pride and Prejudice, and Ryan has done some fine work with the ESPN series 30 For 30.  This particular film does not exactly help that case, but it doesn't really hurt it either.

Those things said, we've shed ourselves of years of prudishness by allowing this sort of movie to be made under the guise of "family-entertainment".  Until the inevitable late-act reveals that show our heroines aren't totally evil, they act with areckless abandon to the possible feelings and emotions of someone that they pretended to be friends with when they were little, and now purposefully try to sabotage now that they're older.  One of Parker's techniques, oft-commented upon by Abigail, is that she should sleep with Tony to try and wrest him away from Caitlin.  This, to be fair, wasn't exactly what I was expecting from "family-entertainment".

Aside from a few comments to the affect of "Ya'll ain't from around here are yah?" the Southern placement at least leads to some nice buildings.

Then there's the central argument that the movie makes.  Ultimately, according to Revenge of the Bridesmaids, no man should have to marry a woman just because she's pregnant (which is why Tony dumped Rachel to propose to Caitlin).  But this isn't done in an ultra-chauvinist "male's gotta right to do what he needs" way.  It's Rachel that actually puts the idea on the table, suggesting that maybe people (if they do get married) should get married for love and not just because of a mistake.  Now pregnancy is a mistake as well, and the wheel keeps on turning.

Basically, I'm surprised at how damn raunchy and frank the subtext in this made for prime-time family consumption film is.  Personal politics aside, this is pretty damn accepting of sex on it's own terms without loading it with a bunch of religious or societal obligations.  Combine that with the heroic alcohol consumption that is present throughout most of the movie and I have to marvel, if only for a moment, how progressive our attitudes toward a lot of behavior has become.  Less people are getting married, but it seems like the volume of folks that say that this shouldn't be the case is getting louder, yet we're producing things like this for our families.

An intriguing development.

That Revenge of the Bridesmaids is all wrapped in a package for families is a bit surprising.  That it has been met with some degree of success with little other folks grasping at the supposedly "adults-only" material in the package is downright shocking.  It's not the best film, but damn if it didn't actually give me some kind of hope for more open-minded viewpoints in the future.

Revenge of the Bridesmaids (2010)

Directed by Jim Hayman.
Teleplay by  David Kendall, Bob Young, Stephanie Phillips, and Mark Amato.
Starring  Raven-Symone, Joanna Garcia, Chryssie Whitehead, and David Rogers.

Posted by Andrew

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