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Posted at 08:51 AM ET, 01/26/2012

‘Bridesmaids,’ an affirmative-action nominee, isn’t Oscar-worthy

First, let me confess: I loved the movie “Bridesmaids,.” which has been nominated for two Academy Awards.

Melissa McCarthy’s nomination for best supporting actress is deserved for her role as the rather, um, unconventional sister of the groom.

Kristen Wiig, one of the stars of the cast, and Annie Mumolo are also nominated for best original screenplay, the only women nominated in that category. (Bridget O’Connor , who died of cancer in 2010, at age 49, was nominated along with her husband in the adapted
From left, Becca (Ellie Kemper), Megan (Melissa McCarthy) and Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey) in “Bridesmaids.” (Photo Credit: Suzanne Hanover)
screenplay category, for their work on “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.”)

But the nominations made me ask: Would a similarly crude film featuring men get such nominations? Or is this a right-minded but wrong-headed attempt to correct Hollywood’s long record of overlooking female talent?

Superbad,” the similarly hilarious and crass movie featuring Jonah Hill-Michael Cera as high-schoolers on a night of misadventure, didn’t receive many prestigious award nominations. (Jonah Hill is nominated for best supporting actor this year, though, for his role in “Moneyball.”)

“Knocked Up” and “40-Year-Old Virgin,” also produced by Judd Apatow as was “Bridesmaids,” didn’t get any Oscar love either, despite their popularity at the box office.

So why nominate “Bridesmaids?”

It was certainly funny, if often cringe-inducing. Most stories about McCarthy’s nomination mention her sink scene in the restroom of an upscale bridal boutique. Her performance as the pushy, confident, hefty future-sister-in-law was great — especially when she intrudes on Wiig’s sorry-for-herself character to tell her to suck it up. (And I love the headline on the Chicago Tribune story about her nomination: “Plainfield’s Melissa McCarthy earns Oscar nomination for ‘Bridesmaids’.” A victory for the small-town girl!)

The storyline of feminine rivalry in “Bridesmaids” is the real attraction here, as the single, misguided Wiig competes for her BFF and bride Maya Rudolph’s affections with Rose Bryne, the groom’s wealthy, beautiful, successful, tasteful wife.

Some of Wiig and McCarthy’s best scenes are during the ill-fated bachelorette party flight to Las Vegas, where McCarthy woos, in her own special way, the man sitting next to her (played by her real-life husband Ben Falcone). And Wiig’s mid-flight freak-out is hilarious.

But it’s unlikely Bridesmaids will win an Oscar in either category; the competition is stiff. Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain of “The Help” may be the top contenders for supporting actress. And “The Artist” and “Midnight in Paris” are likely to be the favorites for best original screenplay.

Although it’s refreshing for those of us who appreciate creatively crass comedy to see women upstage the men for once, I’m not sure this one is Oscar worthy.

Sandra Fish teaches journalism at the University of Colorado and has reported on politics in Iowa, Florida and Colorado. Follow her on Twitter at @fishnette

By  |  08:51 AM ET, 01/26/2012

Tags:  Bridesmaids, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Oscar nominations, Maya Rudolph, Octavia Spencer, Jessica Chastain, The Help

 
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