BRIDESMAIDS TRAILER: Uber Chick-Flick Positioned for the Apatow Dude Demographic

I asked our trailer editor at SizzlePitch to name a trailer that impressed him. He mentioned that for Bridesmaids, a film he hadn’t intended to see, until he watched the preview. In his recollection, it contained all the best gross-out humor bits of the film, proving that the Kristen Wiig vehicle could compete on those terms. He acknowledged that the film itself, was a much more serious and poignant experience than he expected (based on the trailer), but that he’d enjoyed it, regardless of its difference from its marketing.

With that much of a recommendation, I was ready to watch and write about the Bridesmaids’ trailer, shown above. In 2:25 and nearly 100 edits, the short film establishes the situation, sets up the conflict, introduces the list of characters and provides a series of exemplary and illustrative scenes. It’s straightforward, in keeping with a high-concept script and a title that tells most viewers–at least those who’ve been anywhere near a wedding–what the film is about. The payoff then is not to be found in a surprise ending or plot twist, but rather in the performances, the jokes, sight gags, set-ups and the comic magic of Ms. Wiig, in a demanding, leading and occasionally unsympathetic role.

The copy, presented in pink block font on white cards (looking as if the words had been cut out of an invitation and photocopied repeatedly), reads as follows:

From the producer of Knocked Up and The 40 Year Old Virgin.
This May
Your Presence is Requested
For a Very Special Engagement
Bridesmaids
Save the Day.

After being asked by soon-to-be bride, Maya Rudolph, to be Maid of Honor, Wiig’s character Googles the subject, only to learn that her duties are extensive. The text of her search, on the website “Bridesmaids101.com” entitled “Maid of Honor Duties,” becomes de facto copy, since we read the first few entries, then scroll down through the next few hundred, along with the now shell-shocked Wiig.

There are two music cues in the trailer: from :01-25, an upbeat, percussion heavy riff underscores Rudolph’s joyous announcement and solemn request of her best friend, whose immediate reaction is a case study in ambivalence. At :25, the bass and drum line of AC/DC‘s monster hit “Dirty Deeds,” kicks in, playing beneath the rest of the trailer. Unlike music cues in so many trailers, the lyrics do not perform an expository or positioning function. In fact, apart from the recognizable and energizing character of the music, the selection confounds, much as the choice of the font, mentioned above. (My point is that “looking cool” and “sounding good” are not enough justification for marketing decisions on which a $40M movie relies. I’m going to assume there is a good reason for these decisions, but it’s not obvious to me.)

In the first 25 seconds, Wiig is shown to be in over her head, regretting her ready acceptance and possibly resenting the happiness of her friend who has obliged her in this most flattering of ways. Now, she must meet the other bridesmaids, each of whom is introduced in a scene which explores her character and suggests likely difficulties for Wiig in carrying out her duties. Her own status as a single woman is repeatedly raised; her failings economically, sartorially and romantically are likewise indicated.

From the meet and greet at the engagement party, the trailer devolves into a series of representative scenes from the bridesmaids planning luncheon to their trip to Vegas to various scenes of mayhem and mishap en route to the blessed day. The beautiful and polished Helen, the bride’s newest friend, is set up as Wiig’s nemesis, though perhaps more out of her own insecurity than any hostility on Helen’s part. For those fans of Ms. Wiig’s comedic talent (familiar to viewers of SNL), the trailer delivers ample coverage of facial tics, nervous noises, indecorous behavior and stress induced insanity. Wiig will clearly wig-out.

After the Title Card, the trailer’s button hints at some of the crude humor in store for viewers, but resists tipping its hand. Indeed, having watched the two official trailers, I’m wondering whether my editor friend may have retrospectively imagined that he saw more gross-out humor in the trailer than he actually did.

Indeed, the trailer is surprisingly representative of the film in its exploration of the emotional and psychological dynamics between best girlfriends, when one of them is getting well and happily married while the other remains a hot, complicated mess. Yes, you can be sure that Wiig and McCarthy are going to do what they do so well, but its also apparent in the trailer that Wiig’s character’s discomfiture and competitiveness and resentment will be exhaustively explored.

Creative Commons License
movietrailers101 by Fred Greene is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

About Frederick Greene

Entertainment Copywriter & Visiting Assistant Professor, UCLA Dept. of Theater, Film & Television. I teach a graduate seminar in new movie marketing, which focuses on the history, contemporary practice and likely future of a/v advertising for motion picture entertainment.
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