Always the Bridesmaid

 in Time Magazine

Kristen Wiig photographed by Peter Hapak for TIME

I saw Bridesmaids tonight.

If you watch Saturday Night Live you know Kristen Wiig.

In passing, I’ll acknowledge that you might be one of those people who used to watch SNL.   Fine, you don’t want to admit that you watch the show anymore.  Saturday at midnight alone, without any sort of surveillance, who knew if you were surreptitiously watching the monologue or the fake news…?

I make no bones about it. When I am awake on a Saturday Night I watch SNL, and don’t waste time comparing it to previous casts.  When I simply want a laugh, SNL has been a good friend over the years.

And so, whether you’re a closet SNL watcher or honest about it, chances are you know Kisten Wiig and her recurring characters:

  • Target Lady
  • Penelope, the champion of one-upmanship
  • Gilly, the troubled schoolgirl
  • Doonese, the backup singer with deformed hands
  • The actress (Google tells me her name is “Mindy Grayson”) on Secret Word (a show parodying the old show Password) who is too dense to play the game

While SNL has been a springboard for many careers, it’s also true that some of the biggest TV stars failed to make the transition to film.  For all the success of those such as Mike Myers and Adam Sandler, there are also those like Dana Carvey who failed on the big screen.  Tina Fey is among the first of the female SNL regulars to hit it big, whether with her own show 30 Rock or in such films as Date Night and Baby Mama.

The secret to their success may be that Myers, Sandler & Fey produce and/or write their material.   And so, too with Wiig in Bridesmaids, a film currently enjoying a triumphant success all over North America. How successful?

  1. Pirates of the Caribbean  took in $91 million in its first weekend, having cost an estimated $250 million to produce
  2. Bridesmaids has taken $21 million in this its second weekend, for a total of $59 million, but having cost only $32.5 million to produce
  3. Thor dropped from top spot with a take of only $15.5 million, for a two week total of $145 million, having cost $150 million to produce.

While the expensive juggernauts should manage to cover their expenses (Thor likely will do so within a few days), Bridesmaids has already returned double on the investment, and shows no signs of running out of steam.

In some ways it’s a disturbing film.  Wiig’s character  –Annie— like so many others she has portrayed before, is once again an oddball.  This time we’re not watching sketch comedy, but a fairly realistic film.  Yet we’re laughing.  I can’t pretend to understand this – perhaps something about Wiig herself? – that somehow makes us feel okay about laughing at someone going through a series of unpleasant experiences.

Watching the film –in a theatre full of patrons laughing uproariously—I hoped this meant success for Wiig.

IMDB tells me she has another film in the works for 2012, namely Friends with Kids.  Among the stars named for the film are fellow SNL alum Maya Rudolph, whose chemistry with Wiig is one of the special pleasures of Bridesmaids and Mad Men star John Hamm, also in Bridesmaids playing an uncredited role (and one of the funniest people in the film).  While Hollywood seems to be a place of big-budget contracts & deals, it’s nice to see actors appearing in projects with one another, suggesting that they’re simply friends.  First Hamm appears in Wiig’s film.   Hamm & Wiig will then co-star in Friends with Kids, written and directed by Jennifer Westfeldt, identified a few places online as Hamm’s girlfriend.

I can’t wait.

This entry was posted in Cinema, video & DVDs, Popular music & culture, Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Always the Bridesmaid

  1. You mention that SNL was a springboard for many careers, but most didn’t make it to film. It’s interesting to compare the successess of SNL with those of SCTV.

    SCTV ran from 76-84 (SNL started in 75). During those 8 years, SNL had 31 (according to Wikipedia!) repertory cast members and SCTV had only 11. But of the 11 SCTV cast members, the only two that didn’t become movie stars were Tony Rosato and Robin Duke – also the only two who were in SNL as well. So about 82% of the SCTV cast become rather big name movie starts and yet only about 35% of the SNL cast did, which is surprising to me given that SNL was tenfold more popular.

    It’s also noteworthy that Lorne Michaels, producer and creator of SNL, was also the creator of KITH. KITH was quite popular, but none of its 5 cast members became anything more than accessories to films. … it must be the Lorne touch!

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