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Friday Film Review: Bridesmaids

Bridesmaids (2011)

Genre: Comedy/Romance

Grade: B+

“You kind of stole all the crazy.”

“I out-crazied you.”

Okay, the fact that I reviewed “Bad Santa” last year should tell y’all I have no shame about watching and recommending gross-out movies. Still I hesitated on this one awhile before deciding to give it a shot. The critics’ reviews were pretty good but when a friend told me about the “intestinal distress while in bridesmaids dress situ” scene, I wavered. Did I really want to watch a film where the bride-to-be and her bridesmaids all race for the lone bathroom in a chi-chi wedding salon – and some of them don’t make it? Guess you can tell that in the end, I did.

Down on her luck Annie (Kristen Wiig) is thrilled when her long time best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph, who I loved in “Away We Go”) announces her engagement – especially after a hilarious brunch when Lillian wonders if Dougie is about to break up with her (“He calls me Dude a lot.”) But it doesn’t take long for trouble to elbow its way onto the scene. At the engagement party – held at the snooty country club where Dougie’s family and boss are members – Lillian introduces Annie to her other bridesmaids Becca (Ellie Kemper) who seems to have a chaste marriage with her Ken doll husband, Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey – Reno 911) whose three boys have her living in a fluid spattered home, Megan (Melissa McCarthy) who makes sex sound like a full on Krav Maga session, and Helen Harris III (Rose Byrne) who’s so perky and perfect she makes everyone’s teeth ache.

Or maybe it’s just Annie who can’t stand Helen as the other women eagerly fall into line with whatever expensive outing Helen dreams up for the pre wedding celebrations while Annie’s efforts result in the women suffering an extreme bout of food poisoning as they try on expensive bridesmaid dresses in a shop with white carpeting. The bachelorette trip to Vegas also falls prey to Annie’s fear of flying and probably gets her added on the no-fly list after Air Marshall Jon (Ben Falcone) and Megan have to take a hysterical Annie down mid-flight.

Annie’s love life also sucks as she bounces between bad dates and f*ck buddy, happy-go-lucky asshole Ted (uncredited John Hamm). Still, a chance meeting with Wisconsin State Trooper cutie Officer Nathan Rhodes (Chris O’Dowd, whose accent I just want to wrap around me like a blanket), due to her taillights being broken, brings Annie a much needed sympathetic friend to whom she can pour out her troubles.

When her frustrations boil over at the OTT French themed (complete with Golden Retriever puppy party tokens) bridal shower, will Annie finally go too far and alienate her best friend forever? And does she have any hope of salvaging her budding relationship with Rhodes before her self doubts sabotage that too?


Let me try and find some redeeming aspects of the film to salve my conscience about rec’ing it. Annie does grow as a person. She learns something about valuing herself and that the human heart has an endless amount of room to add new friends. Annie finally sees that Helen doesn’t have the perfect life it appears to be from the outside and that perhaps she’s just looking for someone to accept her too. And maybe Rhodes’ encouragement – plus the carrot cake Annie bakes as a peace offering – has rekindled her dreams to make her living as a baker instead of existing in a soul sucking job in a middling jewelry store.

The movie also lets the female stars be funny in a way that few movies have allowed. Usually women have to be all nicey nice. Be sweet. Don’t say anything bad. Don’t make waves. Beam that clinched teeth smile in public like a lady and wait until you get home before yelling how you really feel. In “Bridesmaids” the women get to show it all in public. Though it might start with the painfully polite, faux female facade of friendliness before heading to the speech-off contest at the engagement party, pretty soon the white cotton gloves start to come off. From the tampon commercial tennis match to the screaming meltdown at the bridal shower (watch for the rabbits running for cover in the background) – the characters really show their true feelings right out in the open and to each others’ faces. I might not want to see a steady diet of this all the time and I certainly don’t think I could actually do any of these things in public myself – the “be nice” lessons of a lifetime are hard to shake – but it’s damn funny and refreshing to watch on screen.

Which leads me to the main reason to see it. I found it to be OMG funny. I started laughing at the morning “conversation of shame” between Annie and Ted and kept on during Annie’s impersonation of a penis and balls at her bunch with Lillian. Then there’s Annie’s brother and sister roommates – ick! blech! scrub the tub scene from my brain with bleach! (note, this is in the unrated version of the film). Annie’s sobriety test is only topped by Steve Martin’s in “The Man with Two Brains” while her taunting of flight attendant Steve, while under the influence of whatever pills Helen gave her washed down with a gulped Scotch, had me in stitches.

Annie’s not the only one with the good lines though. Megan wants to climb a hawt guy “like a tree” and Rita frankly talks about how she wants “balls in her face” during the bachelorette party in Vegas. Helen’s disingenuous “Oh, you can get checks cashed here” comment followed by the condescending statement about the “sense of camaraderie in coach” would make me want to slap her too. I loved Rhodes’ and Annie’s morning radar gun bantering, though if he let Annie sit in the front seat when they started after the guy going 91 mph – “can’t let that go” – why couldn’t he let her do it again later in the film?

But the three sequences that stand out for me are the well known “food poisoning,” the French bridal shower throw down, and Annie’s attempts to get Rhodes to help her. The “hot lava” get-me-to-a-toilet, projectile vomiting scene almost made me wet myself even as I thought “am I laughing at this?” I just had to immediately rewind it to make sure I’d really seen what I just thought I had. And then I laughed at it again. Good thing Helen’s husband is probably rich enough to replace that carpeting. The butterfly flitting out of the bridal shower invitation box (a box for God’s sake!) set the tone for things to come. Riding white horses while being lead to Helen’s house was bad enough but the hot chocolate fountain, party favors (but why Goldens? Why not poodles?) and the gigantic cookie would have me at least thinking if not saying “Are you shitting me?” too. Watching the dual meltdown is cathartic (“She does NOT get a party favor!”).

The last scene is funny but also revealing. Annie discovers the hollow sham of Helen’s life then starts to open up to her as a friend – just a bit, we see how much Annie hurt Rhodes, how he’s struggling to maintain that hurt but that there might be romantic hope here- and it’s funny as hell. The first time I saw it I was concentrating on Annie and Rhodes but take the time to watch what Rose Byrne as Helen does as her facial expressions are priceless.

This is another Hollywood release that doesn’t have the bonus material on the rental discs (I hate, hate, hate these!) The extra stuff is worth seeking out as the commentary is good and the gag reel truly is funny. But the line-o-rama, where the director just let the actors ad lib and improv a variety of lines, is a scream. That alone is a reason to try and see this stuff.

The film ends in a way I like. Not everything is neatly wrapped up. Annie still doesn’t have a job. She and Helen might get to be closer friends but I’d never bet the farm on them being BFFs. Megan seems to have gotten herself down to a manageable number of puppies and possibly has something going with Air Marshall Jon. And Annie just might be ready to let herself have a positive relationship with a man who looks like a winner. Maybe he’ll let her turn on his siren some more and play with his radar gun again. B+

~Jayne

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

32 Comments

  1. Anachronist
    Jun 29, 2012 @ 04:15:33

    I enjoyed your review but I am not sure about the movie. I hate these wedding comedies and lavatory jokes make me nauseated.

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  2. cate
    Jun 29, 2012 @ 05:51:04

    I must admit I found it a bit of a curates egg of a film. I loathe (literal) toilet humour – it’s normally a complete turn off for me ( Johnny English anyone?). But Kristin Wiig was a new find for me, Melissa McCarthy is a total scene stealer, and I’ve loved Chris O’Dowd from the first time I watched the joy that it The IT Crowd. So I went with it, & I’m glad I did. It’s got a lot going for it, & like you Jane,I’m so glad that it didn’t end with everyones lives tied up in a neat pink bow.
    I’ll be interested in seeing Friends with Kids – it looks like there’s a little Rep company developing with this cast

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  3. Angela
    Jun 29, 2012 @ 06:25:39

    I’m not normally a fan of comedies, in general, so the only reason I saw this was because a friend dragged me to it. I’m still not sure how she felt about it, but I was not impressed. I think the humor just flies right past me.

    Of course, I can’t stand Will Ferrell movies either and he’s apparently much beloved.

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  4. wikkidsexycool
    Jun 29, 2012 @ 06:26:05

    Haha,

    I truly loved Bridesmaids. My kind of humor, especially the bathroom scene (when ya gotta go, ya gotta go :)
    Melissa McCarthy was my favorite, a close second was John Hamm’s self absorbed F**k buddy.

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  5. Jayne
    Jun 29, 2012 @ 06:26:37

    @cate: I’ve been debating “Friends with Kids” since it has so many “damning with faint praise” reviews. I’m afraid it could turn out to be more like “This f***ing egg’s off!” instead of a 1890′s curate’s egg.

    And thank you for the new description. [G] I’d never heard of it before.

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  6. Jayne
    Jun 29, 2012 @ 06:34:17

    @Anachronist: I don’t know where my original reply went but here goes again in a slightly modified way – given what you’ve said, there probably isn’t much point in you seeking this one out.

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  7. cate
    Jun 29, 2012 @ 06:36:28

    @Jayne: You’re welcome – I’m guilty of using it all the time for things I’m luke warm about :) So you could say that I over egg the pudding !!!!
    Thanks for the heads up re:- FWK, I’m seeing it later this week after Abraham Lincoln – Vampire Slayer .

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  8. Jayne
    Jun 29, 2012 @ 06:38:22

    @Angela: The only 2 Will Farrell movies I’ve seen have been “Dick” and “Stranger than Fiction.” The descriptions of the rest leave me cold.

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  9. LG
    Jun 29, 2012 @ 07:34:38

    For the most part, I disliked this film. I hated how long it took for Annie’s life to stop speeding into the toilet. It was just painful to watch. And I’m also not generally a fan of gross/toilet humor. The food poisoning part made me desperately wish I hadn’t been watching the movie in the theater – if I had been watching it on DVD, I could have skipped through that part. While I did like some of the bits near the end, I didn’t really enjoy most of what I had to sit through to get to them.

    And yet, the friend I went to see the movie with enjoyed it. It’s amazing how much tastes can differ.

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  10. sarah Mayberry
    Jun 29, 2012 @ 08:32:12

    I loved and still do love this movie. I have my own copy. I laughed so hard during the bridal salon scene I almost threw up (note to self: never eat a big burger before a very funny movie). From the opening sequence where Annie takes the walk of shame, I loved how this movie kept taking jokes that seemed predictable and then making them really funny – like her choosing to climb over the gate rather than go back and ask her fb to let her out(which I saw coming) then the maid arriving and her having to ride the gate as it opened. But the thing I loved the most about it was that it was about female friendship, and not only did it make me laugh, it also made me feel teary. There are lots of boy buddy movies out there, but this is a girl buddy movie and I think it’s great. And that sequence after the credits…so funny. Megan McCarthy is Godhead.

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  11. Darlene Marshall
    Jun 29, 2012 @ 08:39:17

    I wasn’t sure about this movie when it was in the theaters, but enough (much younger) friends recommended it that I caught it on cable On Demand.

    I liked it. There were individual scenes I didn’t enjoy (the bridal shop), but overall I liked the theme of friendship, and friendship jealousy, and I enjoyed Chris O’Dowd’s character very much. I kept wanting to wave a sign: “Hello! Nice guy alert! Don’t overlook him for John Hamm!”

    Thanks for the review. I’ll look for the unrated version if it pops up again.

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  12. Maili
    Jun 29, 2012 @ 08:59:35

    Quick note (I’m making a sneaky work break): I was quite frustrated that – once again – it focused heavily on the group’s relationships with each other (and their self-esteem), which we don’t see in similar but all-male films like The Hangover. I see this over and over and over with female-orinated comedy films. So frustrating. So, that pretty much marred my attempt to enjoy Bridesheads.

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  13. Maili
    Jun 29, 2012 @ 09:00:34

    *female-oriented films. -_- Sorry.

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  14. Dabney
    Jun 29, 2012 @ 09:14:05

    I too was surprised at how much I liked this movie. (Although I have an ick factor about the bridal shop scene I just couldn’t get past.) But I thoroughly enjoyed it as did my daughter and husband who watched it with me. I loved her relationship with Rhodes–it seemed so much realer than that of most rom coms. The acting was great and it was fun to see a chick flick that wasn’t.

    I have teenagers and college students so for the past several years, I’ve watched movies with them I would have never have watched on my own. I was stunned to howl at “The Hangover,” love “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle,” could watch “Starsky and Hutch, and” “Elf” over and over. I loved “Zoolander” and “Superbad.” Much of the humor in these reminds me of the classics of my youth–”Animal House,” “Stripes,” and “The Blues Brothers” in that they push the limit of what many are at ease with.

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  15. Ren
    Jun 29, 2012 @ 09:16:59

    I generally avoid “girl movies” because I do not understand the alternate universe in which those women dwell. (Which is frequently how I feel about nonfictional gatherings of women, as well, so not really a surprise.)

    This one was full of “oh, I am right there with you, sister,” so while I occasionally wanted to punch the stupid out of Annie (“How DARE Officer Nice Guy be INTERESTED in you! The NERVE!” *punch*), I found it entirely relatable and would watch it again, which I can’t say about most of the movies I’ve seen in the past few years.

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  16. Maya S.
    Jun 29, 2012 @ 09:26:07

    I absolutely loved this movie. I went to go see it with my two girlfriends and one guy friend and all four of us were dying of laughter. Then again, we’re all about the target age (mid-20′s) for this movie. But I think that the main relationship in the film gets overlooked because of the wedding and a lot of the huge comedic set-pieces- Annie and Lillian’s friendship.

    I think it really speaks to my age range especially because our friends are starting to get married while some of us are sort of left behind and it can be weirdly frightening. I thought the movie was genius at depicting a real female friendship and what real women talk about rather than shopping and shoes and love all the time.

    It doesn’t hurt that Melissa McCarthy absolutely stole the movie (I spent the first 20 minutes going “OH MY GOD SOOKIE, WHAT ARE YOU DOING” and the rest laughing my ass off) and Chris O’Dowd is beyond adorable, especially with that accent.

    So yeah, I can see why it wouldn’t appeal to a lot of people. But for me, it’s one of my favorite films of 2011.

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  17. Isobel Carr
    Jun 29, 2012 @ 09:45:58

    Maybe I never got to the funny part? I turned it off 45 min in. Was bored to tears (and I loved the Hangover, so it’s not that gross comedy doesn’t work for me).

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  18. Ruthie
    Jun 29, 2012 @ 10:09:43

    @sarah Mayberry: I am so glad to hear that I’m not the only one who got weepy over this movie. I didn’t expect it — so many tears! I liked that the problem at the core of the movie was about a threatened female friendship, not a man.

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  19. JacquiC
    Jun 29, 2012 @ 10:12:26

    Count me among those who HATED this movie. I only got as far as the speech scene where Annie and the other one (Helen?) are trying to outdo each other with speeches about how good friends they are with the bride-to-be. I was so disgusted and uncomfortable with this that I couldn’t watch anymore. None of the characters seemed remotely likeable to me, and they seemed to be getting less and less likeable as the movie progressed. I also found this to be a so-called “girl” universe that I totally could not relate to.

    Obviously, this is a matter of taste and maybe life experience as well. I just get frustrated by movies which portray women’s rivalries in this way, and that seem to make women seem so pathetic and petty. I think this is a movie where you will know pretty quickly whether it will resonate with you or not. If you are alienated by it at the beginning, it probably won’t get better if you stick with it.

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  20. Leslie
    Jun 29, 2012 @ 10:23:50

    I LOVED this movie – I laughed so hard I hurt the next day AND I teared up AND I finally saw a mainstream movie where a woman voiced self-doubt and that problem wasn’t remedied by meeting up with the handsome prince. In the self-help parlance, she has to “work on” herself and that progress is clearly ongoing when the credits roll.
    I was THRILLED to see funny women be funny on their own terms, not as someone’s bossy wife or airhead girlfriend or as the butt of a joke.

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  21. LG
    Jun 29, 2012 @ 10:30:41

    I’ve thought about this a bit more, and I think another reason why I disliked this movie so much is that it feels like the humor is very often about the humiliation of the female protagonist. It’s the same sort of thing that made me hate the “poop clay” scene in Dara Joy’s Knight of a Trillion Stars so much that I skimmed or skipped it any time I reread that book. I don’t want to be invited to laugh at the female protagonist of a book or movie over something that, had it happened to me, would make me want to crawl into a hole and hide.

    I’m trying to think of similar book or movie scenes involving male protagonists, where the male protagonist is clearly embarrassed or humiliated by whatever happened or whatever they did, and I’m drawing a blank, so I don’t know if it’s just something that gets to me when the protagonist is female.

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  22. Las
    Jun 29, 2012 @ 10:48:44

    I hated this movie. It lost me at the very beginning when Annie was trying to turn her fuck buddy into something more, when the guy is a total asshole AND he’s a lousy lay. I mean, really, if a fuck buddy sucks at sex, what’s the point? The whole point of his presence in your life is the sex!

    My dislike turned to loathing when Helen showed up and the whole movie became about two women fighting over a BFF–that’s better than fighting over a man…how, exactly?

    Melissa McCarthey’s was the the only good thing about this movie.

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  23. Dabney
    Jun 29, 2012 @ 11:11:57

    @LG: I think the “Hangover” oeuvre is full of those moments for men. “Superbad,” even the self-mocking Will Farrell comedies.

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  24. Diana
    Jun 29, 2012 @ 11:38:50

    Loved this movie, but what I loved about it was the women in the film were shown to be — at times — silly, selfish, petty, and flawed. Just like me, sometimes (and like a lot of people if they’re honest about it)! I just found that so terribly refreshing from the recent spate of rom com heroines who always seem to be super nice, totally celibate women with hearts of gold who, despite looking like Katherine Heigl or Scarlett Johansson, can’t seem to find a date.

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  25. Jenny Lyn
    Jun 29, 2012 @ 11:52:42

    I’m another who absolutely loved it. I bought it on Blu-ray. I don’t really care if it has that many redeeming qualities, though it does, it was hysterical. Sometimes you just need a good laugh! There were so many funny scenes and lines. I enjoyed the fact that all the actors in it weren’t gorgeous by Hollywood standards. Even Jon Hamm was made rather unappealing. Melissa McCarthy was brilliant. If I’m ever in a particularly bad or down mood, I pop it in and watch it. Works every time.

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  26. Stephani Hecht
    Jun 29, 2012 @ 12:01:27

    I loved, loved, loved this movie. The bridal store scene didn’t bother me, but that may be because I was a paramedic. While working that job, I saw that kind of thing every day and I was usually the one who got to clean it up. My husband and I still talk about how we can’t fly because there may be a colonial woman, churning butter on the wing of the plane. Then when she tried to disguise herself with sunglasses and said, “No, it’s not me.” OMG, so funny.

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  27. cbackson
    Jun 29, 2012 @ 12:37:03

    Count me among those who loved it. I laughed until my face heart. Melissa McCarthy, in her first scene with the air marshall…oh, Lord. I am giggling remembering it. She was really the standout to me, although I also thought Maya Rudolph was great in a role that was a bit thankless.

    My favorite movie comedies remain Role Models and Happy Gilmore, but this one is up there for me.

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  28. Robin/Janet
    Jun 29, 2012 @ 12:42:10

    I adored this film, and unlike Maili, I liked that it focused on the women’s relationships, because I felt it did so in a way that took an unflinching look at how women in peer groups can feel competitive with and jealous of each other as a function of their own self-doubt.

    And I loved how it’s a script written by women, and that it turns upside down some of the stereotypes (it’s the chunky chick who seems to have the most self-esteem, not only emotionally but sexually, as well), while, if not completely demolishing stereotypes and caricatures, at least giving them a fundamental humanity. I mean, it was tough not to feel for Helen when her stepchildren treated her like garbage, even though you wanted to push her face into her plate at the Brazilian restaurant. While I couldn’t identify totally with any one character, I felt that they all had elements of real women I know (including myself), and Lillian’s sincere moments of doubt near the end of the film rang so true to me (count me in as a huge fan of Maya Rudolph, too, including her work in “Away We Go”) and I loved the way the film could shift back and forth between slapstick and sincere in a second.

    Also, the scene on the plane where Annie is describing the woman in colonial costume “churning butter” on the wing of the plane has my crying with laughter every time I watch it. And the fact that Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone (Air Marshall John) are real-life spouses just made their scenes (especially the “sex tape” gag at the end) extra funny for me.

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  29. Cara Ellison
    Jun 29, 2012 @ 14:55:25

    I loved Bridesmaids. Jon Hamm was a scream and Kristen Wiig showed more depth than her usual SNL sketches allow.

    Mega McCarthy was flat out amazing. Loved this movie.

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  30. M E 2
    Jun 29, 2012 @ 22:44:54

    Mega McCarthy?

    Freudian slip??

    ;-)

    j/k

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  31. Amy Andrews
    Jun 30, 2012 @ 01:26:54

    This movie was extremely funny in parts but its OTT scenes like the diarrrhoea one just didn’t do it for me. It was like – this is a girl movie but we want it to appeal to guys also. And Im a nurse – poo stuff doesnt bother me in the slightest. If they’d toned it down it would still have been funy but it just went on and on and on and that spoiled what could have been a truly great scene.
    My main gripe however was Annie. She was soooo annoying with
    her woe is me shit. I wanted to shake her.
    But the whole movie was redeemed in my eyes by the romance sub plot. Chris O’Dowd (fabulous Irish actor who is amazing in the hysterical The IT Crowd) was pure understated magic in that role and those scenes were the only ones when i didnt want to smack Annie. And for that alone I would recommend it and see it agin.

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  32. foleydog
    Jul 02, 2012 @ 19:46:06

    Still trying to understand how this movie and Hangover work for anyone. I watched both on cross Atlantic flights with nothing much else to do, but give them a try, and even being that captive didn’t make it fun for me. But I’m 40 now and no one’s target audience anymore. My friends in their mid 30s loved it.

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