This essay is one of several contributed by filmmakers and actors as part of Variety’s 100 Greatest Movies of All Time package.
I remember distinctly seeing “Bridesmaids” for the first time at The Grove in Los Angeles. At one point, I had laughed hysterically at something and was doubled over. The thought came to my head of how striking it was to be looking up on the screen and seeing this group of women, how rare it was. It was like this hunger I didn’t even know I had. I was blown away that I could literally be doubled over and then later tearing up because of the beauty of the story of fighting for friendship as you get older. It is the perfect alchemy of humor and emotion. Because at the heart of it, it’s two best friends trying to renegotiate what their relationship is when you’re in two different places in your life. And at the end of the day, yes, we all want to laugh. But what endures is how deeply we cared about rooting for this friendship to find its feet again. It felt like they peeked into the worst moments in our lives and allowed us to laugh.
It was hysterically funny, but the humor was relatable and smart. I’m saying smart, and you have a group of women who are shitting in the sink and on the street. But it never felt lowbrow. It’s a testament to the writing, but also this incredible ensemble of funny people. For most of us, it was our introduction to Melissa McCarthy. That was such a game-changing role. It made me think about all the supremely talented people out there who have not gotten the opportunity to showcase how great they are.
It changed the game in terms of comedies that focused on women. So often, relationships between women on film are based on competitiveness and cattiness. This wasn’t. It was easy to forgive because you wanted every single character to win and find themselves and find happiness and find friendship. It’s pretty much a perfect film. A true classic.
Gina Prince-Bythewood is the director of “The Woman King” and “Beyond the Lights.”