Jenny’s Wedding (2015): When I saw Katherine Heigl in yet another wedding/rom com movie, I rolled my eyes. What other type of Wedding Industrial Complex and women-are-only-valuable-if-they’re-in-a-relationship shenanigans is she getting into this time?
In Netflix’s new docuseries, Chelsea Does, comedian and former talk-show host, Chelsea Handler does marriage in the first episode. The only problem is that Chelsea can’t find anyone to do her until death do they part. Absent groom aside, she’s not sold on the idea of a wedding and sets off to discover what the big deal is about weddings and being married.
There’s an urban myth that men are commitment-phobes when it comes to marriage. If this were true, then why do so many of Hollywood’s brides have cold feet? If I had to guess, it’s probably because most lead women wake up moments before walking down the aisle realizing they are about to get married in order to meet societal expectations – don’t be alone, marry for security, it’s what everyone else wants, your ticking biological clock, all your friends are doing it, it’s not cool to be a cat-lady, etc., etc. – as opposed to a bride marrying for herself and to be with a person she truly loves. I would like to think those runaway brides are sticking it the Wedding Industrial Complex or those icky societal expectations, but the reality is their journey usually ends with another relationship and less self fulfillment. Here’s a list of Hollywood’s ten classic runaway brides and what their feminist (or unfeminist) epiphany was after they said, “F%^& it, I’m running…”
No one does irreverent women’s culture better than Amy Schumer on her Comedy Central show, Inside Amy Schumer. Now we can enjoy her hutzpah on the big screen with the movie, Trainwreck (in theaters July 17). Not only did she write this film, but she’s starring in it too. Chock one up for underrepresented women in Hollywood! While it seems Trainwreck might be another chick flick rom-com, the trailer shows Amy acting more like the unattainable, detached guy which hopefully breathes some fresh air into this exhausted genre.
In New York City, with a population of 8 million, there are at least 600 people who can’t find a mate worthy of marriage. What’s their solution (or last resort) to this conundrum in the dating digital age? An “extreme social experiment” hosted by FYI TV (part of the A&E network) where four highly educated and trained professionals will match them up with the soul mate they couldn’t find independently. Sounds like a really high end dating service, right? Not quite, the catch is you can only meet this soul mate if you’re willing to marry them sight unseen.
The Big Wedding (2013) – A dynamic family converges for the weekend for a family wedding. Like all typical wedding movies, hijinks ensue because no one wants to be honest about themselves or their sex life. Though to be fair to the movie, there’s a lot of scandal that you don’t see coming. As one character aptly put it – it’s like watching a telenovela. It does sport a strong cast: Diane Keaton, Robert De Niro, Susan Sarandon, Robin Williams, Amanda Seyfried, Katherin Heigl, which makes it pleasant to watch. Though without giving away too much it’s easy to guess that in The Big Wedding, the big lesson in the end is that honesty is always best. Director: Justin Zackham
The Five Year Engagement (2012) – I might be two years behind writing this review, but it still puts me ahead of Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet’s (Emily Blunt) own ill-fated nuptials. As you can guess the movie is about the quirky mishaps that can easily set young fiances off the marriage track. In the land of comedic rom-coms, FYE holds more character and relationship substance than most. High feminist fives for addressing the complicated politics of managing two ambitious career-driven partners in an egalitarian way! And kudos to writer’s Segel and Nicholas Stoller for opting to put the lady’s career first. I haven’t seen that done in the movies since Father of the Bride II. I also haven’t seen such a weird sex scene involving lots of condiments and deli meat before. And to top it off, they settle their marriage woes with the most endearing and heartfelt f^$%# off to the wedding industrial complex in the end (you’ll have to watch it to understand). There’s even a female proposal (the last one by my count was in Leap Year with Amy Adams and contrary to what you might think holds very few feminist values). If you’re looking for a good feminist flick on weddings, this one is great and if you’re just into fun movies, it also sports an incredible lineup of talented comedians. (Subjects: Engagements, Wedding Planning, Marriage, Jobs) Director: Nicholas Stoller
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In the saccharine land of rom coms, plots can be trite, characters undefined and sappy sweet endings all too predictable for most movie goers. And the worst part is that they are usually geared towards women. No one wants to watch the same movies with the same formulas. If you’re like me, you’ve been looking for something different, endearing and more in touch with reality.
That’s where Obvious Child (2014) comes in by writer and director, Gillian Robespierre. Unlike rom coms being about getting the boy or choosing love, Obvious Child is about what a woman chooses for herself – in this case, an abortion. It follows Brooklyn comedian Donna Stern (Jenny Slate) who gets dumped, fired and pregnant just in time for the worst/best Valentine’s Day of her life. The best part about the film’s description is that it focuses on the nature of the Donna’s choice and how after everything, she ends up all right.
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding (TV – 2012) – Child brides, High School drop outs, first cousin incest, virgin brides, extreme consumerism, fashion nightmares, arranged marriages – TLC reveals that all of this is happening in America’s backyard. TLC dives into yet another cultural minority’s hidden and secret world, this time with Romanichal Gypsies. Given TLC’s penchant for supporting the Wedding Industrial Complex with their other wedding shows, one might expect this to be in line with the rest (and seems to be racing to become the next Jersey Shore). It does manage to raise the occasional eye on the double standards between the sexes. Girls are restricted to the home, married off at 16 (ish), and are only expected to become mothers and housewives; the men are the breadwinners. Girls on their wedding day must be virgins (many have not even kissed a boy, let alone know their groom well) or else are labeled unfit to be someone’s wife. (It even shared the story of a same-sex wedding, a big taboo in Romanical culture and TLC.)
And the show is not shy about highlighting the tawdry fashion of the community. It often relies on the fashion designer, Sondra Celli to explain the bride’s culture and fashion choices. While the massive, plantation-style wedding gowns run upwards of $10,000 and run amuck with Swarovski Crystals, the day-to-day dress of a Romney is very provactive. Why the Romani lifestyle is quite anti-feminist, they do have feminist fashion leanings. The women in the show often struggle with being called sluts by “gorgers” (non-travellers) for their attire and seductive dancing given that a Romani woman’s innocence is extremely protected and cherished by her family and community. They struggle constantly with discrimination and judgment being placed on them by outsiders, period. Though the show heros even admit part of the sexy outfits is to attract a mate…
The heros of the show describe their culture as extremely family driven, they carry a strong pride within it and are firmly dedicated to keeping the community alive through new generations and upholding traditions – no matter how outlandish they are. My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding is an odd mash up of respectable values, trashy TV, feminist and anti-feminist rhetoric, media exploitation, big personalities and lots and lots of tulle. It’s sort of a train wreck; and it’s impossible to look away.
Cheerful Weather for the Wedding (2012) – A rather dry and witty period film set in England visits an anxious and inebriated bride on her wedding day. Downstairs as crotchety guests get ready for the wedding, her lost and uninvited lover arrives with hidden motives. As the bride deliberates on her impending nuptials, remembrances of the last summer return to when the two fell in love. Despite the conflict between two loves – the groom and her lover, there’s a twist to the story that’s hard to see coming – proving that love may not always be what a bride needs to say, ‘I do.” Side note: keep an eye out for the incorrigible boy and his bag full of surprises! Director: Donald Rice (Subjects: Love, Bride, Wedding, Decision Making)
When Harry Tries to Marry (2011): As a result of his parents divorce, young Harry believes arranged marriages are the only way to have a successful marriage. Straight out of college he rushes to employ a matchmaker, gets paired with a very nice match and goes about planning his wedding. Except amid a long-distance relationship… life and love unexpectedly happen. Harry is left to decide between his hardcore beliefs and the natural path that is laid before him. The movie ends on a really good lesson; that life and love cannot be rushed in youth, inexperience and impatience. Time is one of most important assets we can give ourselves. (Subjects: Marriage, Love, Arranged Marriages) Director: Nayan Padrai
Bachelorette (2012): The Hangover and Bridesmaids, this movie, is not (but it tries really hard to be). Despite featuring actresses and actors I really enjoy and my doppleganger, K. Dunst, there’s little brilliance they could bring to this script. To start, this is a good example of how good-hearted humor goes much farther than mean-spirited humor and there was a lot of the later in the movie. From making fun of the bride for being fat, calling strippers skanks, and calling bulimics messed up in the head just to name a few feel-good gems, it got really good with the profuse use of calling just about everyone the C-word. Then there was the scene that pretty much encouraged one groomsmen to take advantage of an inebriated bridesmaid. And he should get over his moral anxiety by taking a Xanax so he can take advantage of the drunk girl who was G.T.G. (good to go). There was one redeeming moment when the bridesmaids start arguing with a strip club doorman about how misogynistic it is for women to need a male escort in order to enter the premises, but that was short-lived. I’m all for raunchy comedy, but the degenerate humor just came off as…degenerate, unlike its predecessor movies that managed to take off-color comedy and make it fun and clever. Director: Leslye Headland
Blurg! Everyone’s favorite fictional feminist got married last night on NBC’s 30 Rock. What kind of wedding does career-oriented Liz Lemon have? Well, it did not involve ham and other delicatessen treats, jorts or sun pee to toast the newlyweds. What it did involve was awesomeness served up with some midnight cheese on top and some sweet Tony Bennett on the side.
The Decoy Bride (2011) – A familiar tale brought to the big screen of a larger-than-life Hollywood star trying to marry outside the prying eye of the paparazzi. Think covert Hollywood wedding meets Knotting Hill minus Julia Roberts, meets the biblical story of Jacob and Raquel hidden behind a veil with a dash of Scottish flair. A local girl is used as a bridal decoy for the Hollywood star and accidentally marries the groom for real (played by Dr. Who, David Tennant). Shenanigans ensue and the unlikely couple run around trying to find the missing starlet and get an annulment only to realize there is a spark between them. While finding and identifying true love is the main focus of the movie, I found the characters and their small island life to be the most enriching aspect of the film. Watch for the completely endearing dance scene between the deaf and elderly husband and wife, it will melt your heart. Director: Sheree Folkson
In the universe of TLC wedding shows, it seems they’ve reached the limit and are scrapping to discover and produce new hit shows. I introduce to you, “Four Weddings,” where four women attend each others weddings and rate them on venue, dress and catering. Unlike other aggressive judgmental shows, the ladies opinions are fairly passive since it seems they don’t want to rain on a bride’s special day – immediately (they wait until they’ve eaten wedding cake and go home with a souvenir). Their ratings post-weddings, however, are so particularly low that they would make any bikini contestant cry and go on another crash diet. Oh right, this is another yet unnecessary TV show were we cast subjective bias and pit otherwise friendly individuals against complete strangers and then we videotape this feedback for posterity. Missing from the cast members are the grooms, making this show another perpetuation of the heterosexual, traditionally feminine wedding chimera that riddles all wedding shows. The show is boring and unoriginal. If TLC wants to stir the pot and highlight the outrageousness of weddings…how about a feminist bride TV show? Something tells me I’d watch that.
The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank: As an outdoorsy gal, I picked this book up because of its awesome title, only to be mildly disappointed that hunting and fishing only referred to men and dating. Readers follow the life of Jane Rosenthal who is pessimistically and somewhat passionately needy when it comes to her own self esteem, and not surprisingly with men and relationships. Her love life involves a series of unhealthy relationships that she seems to understand are a function of her own personal issues but does little to make a clean break before any damage is done. At a breaking point on her own self worth, she turns to a self help book in order to find love. The book’s most redeeming moment is when Jane finally realizes that the book’s advice to act like a hard-to-get, traditionally feminine, demure damsel is probably the worst advice. The book seems to be hailed as an accurate depiction of women’s dating troubles, but I would have found the book more salient had it focused on problem solving stories and less on the problems. (Subject: Fiction, Love, Boyfriends, Relationships, Self Esteem)
Muriel’s Wedding (1994): Yet another movie that revolves around Abba (someone please explain the Abba/Wedding phenomenon) but set in Australia. This movie is what one would expect the adult follow up to Welcome to the Dollhouse would be like. Muriel is awkward, talentless, painfully unfashionable and dateless. As the movie unfolds it becomes apparent that Muriel’s obsession with weddings and marriage stems from being surrounded by an unsupportive network of friends and family. Until she breaks away from her hometown via theft, does her life begin to change for the better when she meets Rhonda Epinstock. As Muriel pulls her life together she begins to relinquish her attachment to Abba and weddings, though when things sour it all goes terribly wrong. In the end she learns that marriage and a wedding is not the solution to her problems nor will give her value. Despite the painfulness and awkwardness of its characters and storyline, there are some really good lessons about our obsession with weddings and marriage worth paying attention to. Subject: Wedding, Marriage, Abba. Director P.J. Hogan.
Love and Mary (2007) – Mary, a bakery entrepreneur, is faced with the eviction of her business. She decides to fly home with her fiance to collect engagement party money in order to save her business. Her fiance bails at the last minute and she brings his brother as a fake replacement. Without giving away the movie, what struck me the most is that Mary, assertive enough to save her business, seems to be a bit passive in her own feelings. She’ll put decorum and promise over her feelings. Overall, it’s an enjoyable movie with a quirky cast of characters. Director: Elizabeth Harrison (Subject: Money, Love, Weddings)
Mystic Pizza (1988) – Julia Roberts first break out role (no, Pretty Women was not the first) in what would be a long career of romantic films. Set in Mystic, CT three strong, local girls struggle with finding love, navigating the bedroom, their future and breaking from their provincial townie existence. Despite class struggles, forbidden affairs and feeling trapped, the girls at the end of the day find solace and comfort in each other and pizza. The break out feminist moment comes in the end, when one girl finally commits to marrying the love of her life but only on the condition that she keep her name. (Subject: Relationships, Sex, Identity, Friendship)
The War Bride(2001) – Set during World War II, Lily marries a Canadian soldier. She quickly becomes pregnant and moves to Canada to live with her in-laws as part of a save the war-brides campaign. A sassy, fashionable city-Londoner, she finds herself in the plains of central Canada on a farm, severely out of her element and amongst hostile in-laws who find her UK style foreign, too sexual and think her marriage was a ploy to get her out of war-torn Europe. Not knowing whether her spouse is alive, she struggles with being a wife and a mother in a foreign land. (Subject: Marriage, War, Women) Director: Lyndon Chubbuck
Ready or Not (2009) – With the Hangover coming out in the same year, its hard to say which movie came first but they are exactly the same except this one is less humorous. The groomsmen use an over-the-top bachelor party to kidnap the groom to Mexico a week before his wedding. Everything starts going terribly awry from jumping out of a crashing plane to angering a mobster, from getting put in jail to being put in front of an execution squad. The question of the movie is is the groom ready to leave his bros behind for marriage? (Subject: Groomsmen, Groom, Bachelor Party, Comedy) Director: Sean Doyle
The Affair of the Necklace (2001) (R) – While this may not be a movie about marriage or weddings, it is a unique movie in that it is about the true story of a woman who step outside her societal boundaries and dared to change the fate of her life, as a result she helped to bring down the rule of an abusive monarchy. Jeanne de la Motte Valois, a strong-minded Contessa (played by femme-fort Hilary Swank), loses her station, family and homestead because her father was considered to liberal and anti-monarchy. She aims to reclaim her family home through a scam surrounding an extremely expensive diamond necklace. I give the movie high marks not only for its excellent story telling, but because not enough true stories are told about women who try to fight the ruling system. (Subject: Women, Heroine, History, France) Director: Charles Shyer
Love, Wedding, Marriage (2011) – Mandy Moore plays a marriage therapist whose whole belief in marriage is based on her parent’s relationship. When it falters she panics and spirals into mishap as she tries to repair it; only she begins to neglect and abuse her own new marriage. The movie is an interesting look at how our love of the marriage sometimes blinds us from understanding we need to actually work on it. (Subject: Marriage, Love, Relationships, Health) Director: Dermot Mulroney
The Buccaneers (TV mini-series 1995) – If you like romantic period pieces this series is for you. The Buccaneers is the last novel written by Edith Wharton of four young American girls with “new” money that spend a season in England in the hopes of finding rich, aristocratic husbands. The girls are successful but their stories unravel as being married and someone’s wife reveals a much more sordid and unsatisfying life than they had been lead to believe. How the girls cope with obligation, expectations of their sex and class and love is worth a watch. (Subject: Marriage, Etiquette, Love) Director: Philip Saville
The People I’ve Slept With (2009) – We’ve seen many a male character own the spoils of an active sex life, and when the main character Juliet pulls a Samantha Jones it’s exciting to see a female character finally own her sexuality on par with a man and without social ramifications. Except then she gets pregnant and has no clue who the baby-daddy is. Suddenly, Juliet tailspins into an emotionally abusive, self-reflective state of how could she have been so slutty and irresponsible? Not once does the movie turn the table onto the men who are equally responsible for the embryo and it reverts to a pro-life stance and the age mindset that a woman can’t be sexually free without being promiscuous and irresponsible. BS. (Subject: Sex, Pregnancy, Double Standards, Relationships) Director: Quentin Lee
The Romantics (2010) – Seven friends gather over the weekend for the wedding of two of their friends, except the Maid of Honor is still in love and sleeping with the groom (Josh Duhamel). The dysfunction of the friends unfolds during the course of the night revealing that everyone is everybody’s muse in body, mind and soul, thus complicating the existing relationships. The poignant moment is in the end when the Maid of Honor (Katie Holmes) confronts the bride (Anna Paquin) moments before she’s to walk down the aisle. Begging the question would you have the guts to tell someone the truth before they made a mistake? What would you do if you were the bride? Director: Galt Niederhoffer (Subject: Wedding, Friends, Affairs)
For more Feminist Bride Movie Reviews click here.
Well, I’m speechless; not because TLC has managed to produce another wedding show that exploits extreme lifestyles and not because finding an unmarried virgin is like discovering the mythical unicorn. I am speechless at the sheer awkwardness of what they’ve captured for their premiere episode set to air this Sunday. Watch the below to know what I’m talking about:
Now that we’ve all been reminded of our first kiss, here comes our paranoia creeping in – did we look like that during our first kiss? And the awkwardness gets worse when they start to describe how it will all go down on the wedding night – starting with separate showers.
It’s not that the sexual choice of staying a virgin is wrong by any means, it’s that we just love a good kissing/sex virgin story. Remember 1999′s Never Been Kissed, which was also an episode on Glee. And if you really know your pop culture, there’s even a similar episode in Saved By The Bell. There’s the 40 Year Old Virgin and most recently the Mormon story about a virgin human marrying a 110-year old virgin vampire with a steamy, bedpost-crushing wedding night virgin scene that has all the ‘tweens screaming. There are plenty more movies that you can read about here. Despite most of us being sexually experienced on our wedding night (95%), we still want to make a HUGE deal about virginity. We treat it as something really serious ‘to lose your v-card or not to lose your v-card’ but we also treat it with a severe amount of spectacle. How can you defend something as meaningful, but then splay it out for cheap laughs and entertaining awkward moments?
It’s important to think about how women in relationships and in marriage are portrayed too! Wives are often pitched as nags and ragged or sexy trophies. Brides are crazy, weight obsessed, vain control freaks. Miss Representation – OFFICIAL MOVIE TRAILER – Sundance Film Festival 2011 – YouTube.
Made in Dagenham is a British docudrama by Director Nigel Cole and is based on the true story of 187 female Ford Motor machinists in Dagenham, England, 1968. The female workers, led by Rita O’Grady (Sally Hawkins), unite in a strike after management reclassifies them as “unskilled workers” to justify a lower pay rate. The women take their demand for equal pay all the way to parliament. The movie’s message on women’s ability to overcome a culture that promotes sex discrimination is still as relevant today as it was then. But the movie’s comedic, cutesy tone glossed over the severity of the cause, which brings to light larger issues in non-fiction women’s films.
Ah, I can’t wait to see this! And I can’t wait to write all about it, stay tuned.
Bridalplasty (TV Series 2010) – I’m a little behind my wedding TV, but I don’t think I’m missing out on too much with E!’s 2010 show, Bridalplasty. In this reality show competition, brides create a “wish list” of physical things they dislike about themselves and want to change. They then compete in order to win that plastic surgery. The last bridalplasty contestant standing wins their dream wedding and a whole new look.
27 Dresses (2008) – A young women (played by Kathering Heigl) has always been a bridesmaid and never a bride, but the lucky owner of 27 hideous bridesmaid dresses. While the movie is a classic, predictable rom-com and Heigl’s character tends to be a pushover when it comes to the wishes of needy brides, she never manages to attend to her needs (and love life). The movie is a good look at the obscene financial commitment and dedication bridesmaid devote to their engaged friends, but also how totally vain and based in consumerism it can be as well. Director: Anne Fletcher (Subject: Bridesmaid, Consumerism, Love, Money, Vanity, Clothes)
Dangerous Beauty (1998) – Based on the 16th century true story of Veronica Franco who falls in love but can’t marry the object of her affections due to a lack of a dowry. With no marriage prospects, she’s faced with the decision to either enter the convent or become a courtesan. She chooses the life that provides her access to education, independence and the power of expression and articulation, as opposed to the cloister or wifehood which forbids women an education, basic intellectual rights and keeps them as subordinate creatures. Her beauty and smarts win over the hearts (and beds) of most of Venice’s aristocrats, but after Venice faces war and then the plague she is accused of witchery and causing the downfall of Venice.
Disney’s princess plots are more predictable than a woman’s period. Girl is oppressed (by magic, evil villain, or station in life), girl decides to challenge adversity, girl meets vagabond boy en route, cue adorable magical or animal sidekick, boy and girl conquer evil villain, boy and girl marry and the live happily ever after. The End. Right?
The Graduate (1967) – “Mrs. Robinson are you
trying to seduce me?” Dustin Hoffman plays a recent college graduate suffering from summer listlessness and ambivalence to what is expected next of him in life. This enables his middle-aged neighbor, Mrs. Robinson, to ensnare him in a emotionless affair. Hoffman finally awakens to realize that he wants more out of life and love after meeting Mrs. Robinson’s daughter, Penny. Mrs. Robinson becomes jealous of her daughters youth and Hoffman’s change in affections, sending her daughter into the same lifeless marriage she has been forced to suffer. Hoffman rescues Penny from her nuptials in a not so subtle attempt to save them both from the life of their parents.
I Do & I Don’t (2007) – A couple undergoes marriage counseling from a dysfunctional married couple. The ‘never have I ever’ games played within the sessions sends the young couple into spiraling doubt as to whether or not they get married. Ultimately, despite multiple uncomfortable nude scenes, overbearing parents, infidelity and sexual harassment by the counselors, the young couple realize that marriage and love is about embracing the perfection and imperfection in our relationships and partners. Director Steve Blair. (Subject: Marriage, Relationships, Comedy)
An Affair to Remember (1957) – I had only heard of the movie, An Affair to Remember, through the quintessential romance movie of the 90’s, Sleepless in Seattle. Rosie O’Donnell and Meg Ryan cry over the sentimental romance – how love can suddenly find you, change your life and just as quickly disappear under unfortunate circumstances. And I will admit, I didn’t understand (like the guys in that film) what the big deal was…until now.
Wedding Weekend (2006) – A seven-man college a cappella group is brought back together, fifteen years later, to sing at the wedding of one of their friends. While practicing for their big performance, the guys realize that they each lack harmonywith themselves, as friends and with their spouses. Things crescendo as hijinks ensue, ultimately resulting in a rock bottom note. The singers finally realize that life, relationships and marriage can’t be worked out if you’re sitting in the audience. To harmonize, you have to join in and sing the right notes. (Subjects: Men, Marriage, Relationships)
The Groomsmen (2006) – A wedding movie about the emotional roller coasters caused by the life changes a wedding can bring. What makes this movie interesting is that the stereotypical drama doesn’t come from an anxious bride or crazy bridesmaids, but from the groom and his groomsmen. Each guy deals individually with the change a wedding and marriage can cause – from more responsibility, from children to infertility issues, to accepting ones sexuality and to letting go of one’s glory days. Director Edward Burns does a good job of giving gravitas to each issue. I only wish when it came to similar women’s film, they were given the same luxury instead of being frequently portrayed as irrational drama queens. (Subjects: Grooms, Wedding, Life)
Having turned 18 at the birth of the Sex and the City era, college and adulthood came at a time when sexual expression and alcohol could be worn like Girl Scout badges, proudly and with accomplishment. It was the best of times (that I could remember) and the worst of times (that were gladly hazy). The graduates of the millennium celebrated leaving the sophomoric comedy of American Pie and blissfully embraced the gratuitous ass shots of Will Ferrell. And just as quickly as we got on “double-secret-probation” in college,” we just as quickly matriculated from it. Now working stiffs and pissed off about having $160,000 in college debt, Judd Apatow appeared to ease our pain with raunchy and outrageous humor.