Some films you see once. Other films you come back to again and again. (And, for me, when it comes to Apocalypse Now and The Poseidon Adventure, again and again and again.)
I’m a busy man, but I’ll often give a film I missed on release a chance if it turns up on one of the movie channels. The other night, because it was on, I watched The Resident, a formulaic and unoriginal horror movie released earlier this year starring Hilary Swank, who at one point was a guarantee of quality but no longer.
I stuck with it to the bitter end, only because I was hoping for some kind of motivation or explanation after all the predictable melodrama – but none was forthcoming. I will never watch it again.
That’s fine. Some films are designed to be watched once and forgotten about. They can’t all be Casablanca, Wild Strawberries or The Godfather.
Bridesmaids is a movie I saw on release and really enjoyed. A more feminine take on the kind of film that mogul Judd Apatow has made his name with (he produced it), it established Kristen Wiig as a star (she co-wrote it, too) and led to many column inches being filled with musings about an essentially laddish comedic form being wrestled away by the ladies.
In it, we enjoy the slapstick and romantic possibilities of that old comedy standby the wedding, but very much from a female perspective. The men take bit parts.
I watched it again on DVD this week, looking forward to revisiting a film that made me laugh a lot. Well, inevitably, I laughed less on second viewing, as I knew the gags before they happened.
This is fine. You can’t recapture the first time, when every line, set-piece, plot development and facial expression is new. (And with Wiig, given the freedom to improvise, the facial expressions come thick and fast.)
One’s appreciation of a joke often evolves from laughter to inward smile on second hearing. It’s the same with a shock moment or grisly reveal in a horror movie. You know it’s coming, but the enjoyment of a good one does not pale on repeat.
So, yes, Bridesmaids is different the second time. But it’s no less compelling, as with familiarity comes the freedom to explore the drama. I found myself caring even more about Wiig’s disaster-area maid of honour and her low status as a broke Milwaukee singleton forced to move back in with her mother.
It was, at times, almost like watching a different movie. I felt less affection for the gross-out scenes, and more for the characters. This is a great compliment to the writing, direction and performances. There was, I discovered, more to Bridesmaids than met the eye.
It took an amazing $280 million at the box office worldwide. I suspect that now it’s on DVD and pay-TV, it will establish itself as an evergreen. Not every comedy can do that. And very few films of any genre can.
It won’t happen to The Resident either.