Jonah Davenport writes:
I really enjoyed your analysis of Bridesmaid’s (sic) – I love saying “sic.” For those of you unfamiliar with the term, “sic” means, “They made the mistake; I am simply reproducing what they wrote.” Now, back to Jonah.
I did watch the movie but totally overlooked the apparent inconsistencies (I had assumed that the cake had been out of the box and replaced with some other food item.
I was wondering, with all the “hands” that a script goes through from first draft to production, how were these discrepancies overlooked? Any ideas?
(Meaning, I’m finished talking.)
Would you mind telling me what those ideas are?
Well, what are they? Man, you’re a pain today. First, you highlight my mistake, and then, I get these answers that I find to be incredibly irritating!
Excuse me. I was just trying to be humorous.
Well, try answering my question instead. Geez, no wonder nobody asks you anything. First, you jump all over them for some accidental misspelling, and then, you give them the “Big Stall” and try to pass it off as comedy.
You know why I did that?
Because I can.
Which also happens to be – and aren’t I clever for doing it this way – the answer to your original question.
When I wrote about Bridesmaids, I drew particular attention, in the context of my overall positive reaction, to the fact that, along with a minor “wouldn’t happen” observation concerning raccoons and a cake, the movie’s major comedic set-piece – a massive “Puke and Poop-Athon” at an upscale wedding dress emporium – was not adequately set up.
“Not adequately”? I’m being generous. For no reason. It’s not like the filmmakers are likely to inadvertently blunder into my blog, and go, “Oh, look. He let us off easy, by saying the sequence wasn’t adequately set up when he and we both know that it wasn’t set up at all.
“You know what? That man is forthright and honest. Let’s give him a job. In fact, let’s specifically give him the job where he demands that we adhere to rigorous standards of logic and common sense, because, when you come down to it, nobody can successfully make a movie, unless Earl Pomerantz is holding their feet –respectfully, but unswervingly – to the fire.”
Okay. Let me throw away the miniscule possibility of future employment and say, unequivocally:
They did not set up the major primary comedic set-piece of the movie at all!
There. I’ve said it, and I’ve italicized it. I feel better about myself. I took a stand. The consequences be damned.
In my view, the glaringly absent set-up has nothing to do, as commenter Jonah Davenport suggests, with how many “hands” the script went through. It is possible that, under the pressure of time and the hundreds, or who knows, maybe thousands of decisions that have to be made during production, the missing “set-up” issue simply fell through the cracks.
However, emanating from my experience, not in movies where I don't have any, but in television, where, believe it or not, creative decision-making is also involved, another, considerably more likely explanation comes to mind.
The major comedic set-piece of Bridesmaids was not set up, because whoever wielded the final say in these matters– let’s say, the producer, as a result of a string of recent box office successes – felt it would be ponderous to set the "puke-and-poop" sequence up, they believed it would be hilarious whether it was set up or not, and, most importantly, so important that nothing else really matters, they had the unchallengeable authority to enforce their opinion. Right or wrong.
And that – as the exonerated murderer Robert Blake used to say on Baretta – is the name of that tune.
Now I will show you a scene from a wonderful film, set in the arena of moviemaking, called Modern Romance. (1981, written by Albert Brooks and Monica Johnson, directed by Albert Brooks.) As with pretty much all of Brooks’ movies (with the possible exception of Defending Your Life), Modern Romance may not be solid from beginning to end, but it includes a number of hilariously memorable scenes. The following one offers the added advantage of underlining my point.
The scene is a little long, and deliberately, I believe to make its point, tedious, but I encourage you to watch it all the way through, paying particular attention to the ending, which hits the bull’s eye concerning the always tenuous relationship between power and art.
All right, this isn't art, but anyway. Albert Brooks plays an editor, currently working on a cheesy space adventure picture. Despite the schlocky nature of the project, Brooks is seriously committed to making the thing better. The film’s producer, (played by actual producer, plus writer and director, which amounts to “Power Cubed”, James L. Brooks) pops into the editing room…
And you’ll see exactly what happens, not only in this fictional version, but, I suspect, in virtually every movie ever made.
Enjoy the show