The summer movie season — which kicks off next week with the arrival of the hammer-wielding Thor — is thought of as the prime cinematic time for the testosterone set. Sure, plenty of women enjoy watching robots transform, or superheroes save the day in 3D, or muscle-y gods named Thor.
But from a demographic-targeting perspective, Hollywood sees the hot-and-humid period as the key moment to unleash the boy stuff. The best a female usually gets is a token life-affirming tear-jerker in which Julia Roberts finds herself while tippling wine in Italy.
But 2011 could be the year that breaks down gender barriers, especially for comedies. A handful of films this summer — most notably Bridesmaids, out May 13 — give women permission to be funny in ways usually reserved for the lead dillweed in a Will Ferrell or Seth Rogen comedy. Put differently: They are women. Hear them belch.
Bridesmaids — the R-rated alternative to the PG-13 rom-com Something Borrowed — is a primary example. Yes, it tells the relatable, girly story of a maid of honor (Kristen Wiig) who gets jealous of her bride-to-be best friend (Maya Rudolph). But it tells that story while incorporating flatulence, burping, vomiting and flop sweating. And that’s just during the scene where the bridal party tries on dresses.
Then there’s Bad Teacher (out June 24), the Cameron Diaz vehicle that, based on the red-band trailer, casts Diaz as a high school instructor who smokes pot in the parking lot, curses in her comments on student homework and routinely greets people using an unprintable word that rhymes with trucker. She’s basically Jack Black’s character in School of Rock but without the time or patience to teach kids how to jam. Yes, her objective does involve getting a guy (namely, Justin Timberlake).
And lest you fear that Jennifer Aniston has been left out of this mini-trend, take heart: In Horrible Bosses (out July 8) — about a trio of male employees beleaguered by their managers — Aniston plays one of their horrible bosses. Specifically, she’s an oversexed dentist who reportedly has a habit of making lewd advances toward any guy who moves, even if he’s an employee. If the buzz can be believed, she’ll be venturing into comedic terrain that’s different from Marley & Me and still rare for funny actresses to explore.
So does all this suggest that for a woman to be empowered in a comedy, she has to act like a stereotypically disgusting man? Not at all. It just means that maybe this summer, a girl has a shot at seeing a funny movie that doesn’t involve three guys suffering from a hangover or the Sex and the City women sitting on a camel.