The female-comedy renaissance epitomized by
Featuring slapstick physical comedy and a plot involving a mysterious Keyser Soze-like drug dealer (I'll admit I spent part of the movie secretly hoping Kevin Spacey would make an appearance), the
Of course, the talk of renaissance is a bit of a misnomer. It's not as if there's been a ton of such films put on the fast track since "Bridesmaids" achieved blockbuster status two years ago. Besides, female-led comedies, though admittedly rare, aren't exactly new either, with a trajectory that goes from "Desperately Seeking Susan" to "Sister Act" to "Miss Congeniality."
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In fact, much of the breathlessness over female comedies feels a little like the clueless reaction many of us in the media had when
What’s actually new about “The Heat” is not the fact that comedies starring, and appealing to, women can become a major hit (and appealing to is not an understatement: As my colleague Rebecca Keegan writes, the audience this weekend was two-thirds female), but that these movies are now frequently be R-rated. Many of the female-led comedy smashes from earlier eras were of the PG-13 variety. Those that have become hits in recent years --
That’s a trend that isn’t limited to female-centric comedies, of course. The R-rating has been a primary feature of male-driven comedies in recent years as well, starting with "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and "Borat" in the mid-2000s, and continuing this season with yet another crop.
The male side, needless to say, has not had the same batting average as the female one; for every "This Is The End" or
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It’s here where the female-led comedy boom seems to be in such an important but precarious place. It's worth noting that two of the crop of female-led R-rated comedies have shared a pair of specific elements -- director
This category of movies has succeeded despite -- or because -- it hasn't expanded in every lamebrained direction in the manner of the male pics. And we might well be better off if female-centric comedies (as in other areas of life) didn't follow down the guys' foolish path.