Bridesmaids (2011) -vs- The Hangover (2009)

Bridesmaids -vs- The Hangover

Kevin Wohler, Managing Editor

The Smackdown

The world is probably a better place knowing that women can be just as depraved, insecure, crass, pathetic, disgusting and insanely funny as men. After all, fair is fair.

Our Battle of the Sexes Grand-Slam Comedy Smack pits women against men in a dual of the demos. The Bridesmaids versus The Wolf Pack.

After spending over $32-million to make Bridesmaids, Universal Pictures followed up with an expensive nationwide spin-job selling their new movie as a bachelorette party version of The Hangover.

What made that original 2009 film a surprise R-rated hit was bringing The Wolf Pack to life in a story that shattered the formula of a raunchy guy’s film and took it to a new level where roofies were just another plot device. The question that Bridesmaids raises is pretty basic: can the same dynamic — bad decisions, outrageous behavior and same-sex bonding — work in a film about some girls who just wanna have fun, too? And, even if it can work, can that film actually be a better one than The Hangover?

The Challenger

Saturday Night Live star Kristin Wiig and SNL alum Maya Rudolph star in Bridesmaids, a comedy directed by Paul Feig. The story revolves around Annie (Wiig), a comically down-on-her-luck woman whose life has been on the skids since losing her cake business. When her best friend, Lillian (Rudolph), gets engaged, Annie is named maid of honor. But when Lillian’s new friend, Helen (Rose Byrne), hosts the engagement reception at her country club, Annie finds herself in a battle for Lillian’s friendship and the right to plan the wedding shower.

But this isn’t some tender-hearted chick flick or a Sex and the City gal pal romp. It’s a zany story that combines the sensibilities of a Judd Apatow flick (he’s a producer) with the outrageous slapstick comedy of Wiig, who co-wrote the screenplay with Annie Mumolo. Story aside, Bridesmaids is a series of hilarious situations filled with larger-than-life characters that are refreshingly believable.

The Defending Champion

The Hangover is the ultimate bachelor party comedy. Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis are three friends who take their friend Doug (Justin Bartha) to Las Vegas for his bachelor party. When they awake with no memory of the night — and with the groom missing — the trio try to retrace their steps and find the groom before the wedding. Along the way, they find a tiger, a heavyweight boxer, and a baby.

Directed by Todd Phillips, the film takes an unlikely series of events and threads them together into a bizarre comedy of errors. With Cooper playing the straight man, Helms and Galifianakis get to play their comedy roles to the hilt. Their partying antics have elevated the “Wolf Pack” to be the “Rat Pack” for a new generation.

The Scorecard

What makes Bridesmaids different is the realistic portrayal of the women in the film. They are caricatures to be sure, but they are real women — no smoking-hot models or celebrities de jour to distract us. These are real women who are every bit as offensive as men. This isn’t a rom com like My Best Friend’s Wedding. It’s a comedy, and the focus is on the outrageous antics by Wiig and the rest of the crew.

Even though Bridesmaids is being marketed as a female version of The Hangover, it’s really not. The story may include a plane trip to Vegas, but the story is much larger than a bachelorette party. In fact, the story isn’t about the bride or the bridesmaids. It’s about the maid of honor (Wiig), and the disaster she makes of everything. At one point, her love interest (Chris O’Dowd) refers to her as a the “maid of dishonor.” As cliche as it sounds, I think it would have been a more fitting title. This really is her story, and the other bridesmaids are just there to lift her up.

Even so, there are some outstanding performances aside from Wiig and Rudolph. Melissa McCarthy (CBS’ Mike & Molly) shows that she can be every bit as weird and funny as any of them. As Megan, the groom’s sister, she gets to play the weird family member. And though her backstory has no relevance at all, it makes her one of the most entertaining people to watch. Wendi McLendon-Covey and Ellie Kemper (The Office) round out the great cast.

Galifianakis is the king of creepy/weird and the bride’s brother, Alan. When he spikes the gang’s drinks with a date rape drug (he thought it was Ecstacy), he gives them a communal blackout that leads to disaster.

What made The Hangover work so well was the surprise of the film. What looked, on the surface, as an offensive “guy comedy” — or a remake of Tom Hanks’ Bachelor Party, at the very least — turned out to be a genuinely entertaining film.

The mystery of the night’s events is what keeps The Hangover moving forward. Each piece of the puzzle that is revealed is more bizarre and funny than the last. It’s a disaster of epic proportions, and the loss of the groom isn’t even the biggest trouble the trio gets into.

In addition to stealing a police car and getting Stu married to a stripper (Heather Graham), they discover their antics from the previous night have led a criminal to believe they stole $80,000. The trio have to get the money together in an attempt to rescue Doug and get him to his wedding on time.

The Hangover has become an instant classic, in the same way as Porky’s, Revenge of the Nerds, and other raunchy comedies did in the ’80s. So much so, that it has a sequel coming out in a couple of weeks.

The Decision

Before seeing Bridesmaids, I assumed this Smackdown would fall down to a simplistic battle of the sexes. I assumed the challenger would appeal to women the way The Hangover appealed to men. The problem is, some comedies don’t fall along those lines. Sure, the Three Stooges will always be a guy thing, but men can laugh at women, too. Funny, quite simply, is funny.

Bridesmaids is the funnier of the two films. And that’s enough to win this Smackdown.


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About Kevin Wohler

Kevin is a contributing writer for Movie Smackdown! He has also written about film and television for other websites such as FilmGuru.Net, BuddyTV, and A.D. After Disclosure. In addition to his love of film, he also has an unhealthy obsession with all things Superman. With his wife and kids, he makes his home in Kansas -- but his mind is always somewhere tropical.
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5 Responses to Bridesmaids (2011) -vs- The Hangover (2009)

  1. Steve says:

    Great review

    Unlike hangover, bridesmaid focus on the lead character and it also lacks the intriguing dynamic between the actors. I think even females would prefer watching the fun adventure of hangover.

    This is a great comedy and that is all it is, not worth a second viewing, but it would be interesting for them to hang out with the wolf pack.

  2. Bryce Zabel says:

    “Refreshingly believable.”

    Yes. That’s it. Finally got around to seeing Bridesmaids and agree that it’s the better movie over Hangover. It just felt more honest and the characters were people I cared about more.

    Both funny films, but Bridesmaids is the better film.

    I note that today it surpassed Knocked Up as the biggest box office of Judd Apatow’s run. Deservedly so, although I loved Knocked Up, too.

  3. Less says:

    Bridesmaids is the funniest movie ever. Yes, the Hangover was good and it was funny but Bridesmaids makes you laugh until you choke! I have to see it again to go over all the bits I didn’t hear through laughing too much.

  4. Pingback: Girls vs. Boys (Movie edition) | Run. Eat. Beach. Repeat.

  5. Rodney says:

    Root canal surgery would be better than The Hangover. The Hangover was a dire, unfunny, terribly written piece of garbage only made worse by the inclusion of that terribly unfunny Ken Jeong (seriously, the best line he comes up with is something about ejaculation?…. bad pun… sorry) and a horrifyingly unfunny series of scene setups.

    Haven’t seen Bridesmaids, but as long as it doesn’t include a scene with Mike Tyson, then it can only improve on The Hangover’s lasting impression…. urgh.

    No, I didn’t like it at all. The wife didn’t either.

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