While most studio comedies run about 90-100 minutes, producer Judd Apatow and director Paul Feig’s film about female friendship and growing up runs for 125. According to the pic’s editors, that meant they could better develop each of the movie’s many characters.
“It’s difficult, when a picture is long,” says William Kerr, who co-edited “Bridesmaids” with Mike Sale. “It’s like ‘Well, there’s not laughs in that scene.’ But it pays off dividends later.
“We’re dealing with characters and their story arcs, trying to make them real and investing in them, in addition to making people laugh.”
One scene that Kerr and Sale say exemplifies the advantages of a longer run-time is when protagonist Annie Walker (Kristen Wiig), a thirtysomehing single woman whose startup bakery has gone bust, goes to great lengths to bake one elaborate cupcake for herself.
“Instead of just being somebody with a failed business, you see that she is really an artist who has no outlet for her passion,” says Sale. “So it does make you bond with that character in a way where, if you just snipped that scene out, it would be a different Annie Walker.”
Adds Kerr, “It’s not a funny scene. And yet it’s the reason why we love her so much.”
According to Sale, it’s ultimately the tone of the comedy that lets them include the sadder moments and nuance between the laughs, over an extended run time. “If you become too silly, or revert to editing tricks to get the laugh, then when you revert to an emotional part, the audience generally will turn on you,” he says. “That is the balancing act.”
Helmer Apatow, for his part, hopes the Academy will recognize the importance of editing for comedies like his. “It is silly that comedy editors never seem to be nominated. People tend to think that editing a gigantic action scene is harder to do than to create the delicate timing needed in a human comedy or hard comedy. I will be the first to say it, editing ‘The Hangover’ is as incredible a feat as editing ‘The Terminator.’ ”
Apatow notes that modern comedies are often heavily improvised, so the editors help find the story while making sure the pic feels tightly scripted.
“Our editors are important partners,” he says. “They edit, but in a way they are writing and directing right along with us.”