Welcome to The Bathtub, a magical bayou in southern Louisiana that is the home of Hushpuppy and her daddy Wink.
Hushpuppy is six, a Pippi Longstocking in oversized galoshes, Dorothy with a waterlogged Chihuahua, a tiny Wild Thing who could have sprung from Maurice Sendak’s forehead fully formed like Athena. She is a heroine with a thousand faces who has to confront awful truths about growing up: an impending storm that’s threatening The Bathtub, her erratic daddy Wink’s mysterious problems, and imaginary beasts that are sniffing out her weakest spots as the glaciers crumble. Hushpuppy is not precious or particularly precocious; she is an imaginative child with a serious face who is figuring out the world around her.
Beasts of the Southern Wild is in another world that we’re fortunate to visit. It almost hurts to think about; so visceral that it is almost beyond rational thought. Similar to when a child tells you a story and anything can happen. A lost shirt talks in your mother’s voice. The heartbeats of animals are a secret language to puzzle over. Sometimes you don’t have words and can only shriek.
Mavis is intoxicating, and not just because she’s awful, although there’s that, too. It’s hard to look away when she could say or do (and often does!) anything in a situation, from a baby shower throw-down to ragging on how her cousin’s car accident, which left him in a wheelchair, ruined her Sweet 16. What makes her remarkable, though, is that she was written and portrayed as an actual human being. It’s easy to make a female character terrible; make her a shrew, a castrating bitch, a humorless prig, whatever mix of stereotypes you’d like to grab out of the bro-tactular bag of creative tricks.
Look at Bad Teacher; there’s almost nothing redeeming about Cameron Diaz’s character, but there’s also no hook, there’s no small chink to get in there to make us at least the tiny bit interested or involved. And Mavis has plenty of hooks. How many other women and/or writers cringed when Mavis schlumped her way to the fridge in the morning to suckle at a giant bottle of Diet Coke or go out on errands wearing what are, at best, pajamas? Her apartment is an explosion of clothes and bottles of booze and other detritus, and whenever she opens up a blank Word doc, she writes a little bit, then checks her email, and in the background lurks shopping and online dating websites. Touché.
I’ve wondered before if I’m a “bad” feminist for liking Polanski’s work as a director. Liking isn’t a strong enough word, really, although I wouldn’t say loving. I have some personal rules when it comes to reviewing movies; for instance, if I feel that any contact with the director or actors would sway my judgement, I won’t review as a movie. I don’t feel that way with Polanski. His actions are deplorable. His movies are not.
I was disappointed that I didn’t like Carnage all that much. I laughed, but whatever, I laugh at the dumbest shit possible, and sometimes RuPaul’s Drag Race makes me tear up.
Bridesmaids is not quite a chick flick, although it was written by Wiig and Annie Mumolo and boasts a femme-centric cast. There’s some stuff about love, but it’s definitely not a romcom. What it’s about really is friendship between women, and although it won’t be to every woman’s taste, there are plenty more who will see themselves in this broad comedy laced with the angst, loneliness, and insecurity that our protagonist Annie is riddled with. Of course, Judd Apatow’s production credit can’t go unmentioned; the king of the bromance empire is one of many listed among the producers, including Wiig and Mumolo. Labeling Bridesmaids a womance is both a jab at Apatow and a way of making the movie something a little more comforting and familiar than its ovaries-to-the-wall ‘tude. It’s not The [Frigging] Hangover. It’s not The Wedding Crashers. It’s Bridesmaids, bitches!