After last month's credit card bill jarred me into a newly frugal state of mind, I've been looking for new ways to stretch my monthly entertainment budget. I found some gift certificates to restaurants that I've been meaning to try on sale for 80% off, meaning I'll save $22 dollars whenever I go check them out. I've also lucked out and found a spate of neighborhood restaurants offering deals on Groupon, just as I was getting ready to give up checking the site since all it ever seemed to have were offers for Botox injections, sailing lessons, and restaurants so far away I'd spend my savings in gas and public transportation trying to get there. I've also purchased some Groupons recently for cooking classes from venues I wouldn't have even known about had they not been featured on the site.

Tonight, however, it was time to use a coupon I purchased from Living Social, a Groupon competitor, that offered a deal a few months ago for buy-one-get-one movie tickets from Fandango. At the time I purchased it, I assumed I had plenty of time to use it and promptly forgot about it until I got an email alert from the website letting me know that it was going to expire soon. Apparently, the sneaky powers that be at Fandango offered the coupons to get people to the theater during the slow spring season, but wanted to make maximum income during the lucrative summer blockbuster season. It makes financial sense for them, but I was still irked that I didn't get a chance to hold out for more interesting movie options.

I ended up taking Justin to see Bridesmaids, since he was attracted by Judd Apatow's producer credit, and I was naturally drawn to what seemed to be an unorthodox spin on the traditional wedding-focused chick flick. I've also long been a fan of Kristen Wiig's work on Saturday Night Live, so even though I also enjoy a good comic book movie from time to time, Bridesmaids seemed to be a far more attractive cinematic option for this weekend than Thor.

Even though comedies usually aren't my thing, I mostly enjoyed Bridesmaids. I say "mostly" because there were definitely some Apatow-ian moments of raunch and toilet humor that I think were incongruously imposed on the script to appease the male members of the audience. Not that women can't be amused by poop jokes -- indeed, the mostly female members of my maternal extended family seem to love them -- but the gross-out factor was above and beyond anything usually seen in movies marketed to a female audience.

That aside, I felt that Bridesmaids veered from the usual Apatow formula in some important ways. Whereas most of his movies deal with immature man-children whose lives are under assault by women who drag them reluctantly into the world of adult responsibility, Bridesmaids deals with a world in which women face the pressures of maturity and the effects of jealousy and feelings of inadequacy on interpersonal relationships between women. Men are relegated to the periphery of these women's lives, in fact, the groom in the wedding around which the entire plot revolves doesn't even have a single line. Refreshingly, men are not cast as knights in shining armor; instead, the female characters must find the impetus for growth and change from within. For that reason alone, it felt to me like Bridesmaids had much more of a heart and a relevant message than the typical Hollywood chick flick.

Although at times I wondered if Wiig was truly capable of pulling off a leading-woman role, I was impressed by the chemistry between her and her best friend in the film, played by Maya Rudolph. Apparently, Wiig and Rudolph are best friends in real life as well, and that rapport and intimacy transferred onto the big screen in a palpable way. In the scenes between the two of them, I felt that I could have been watching any number of conversations and interactions I've had with my own girlfriends. It was easy to see that the film was written by women with a real understanding of how women interact with one another, not some male fantasy of how women behave behind closed doors.

For its accurate portrayal of female friendship, I think Bridesmaids would be a great choice for a girls' night out with your girlfriends. For the gross-out humor, Bridesmaids is also an acceptable date-night compromise with story elements to appeal to both genders. Either way, the movie comes highly recommended from me, if only because Hollywood needs to receive the message that consumers will support more realistic, female-authored, female-focused films. If nothing else, go see it as a feminist statement, though I promise you'll laugh your butt off in the process.

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