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The Cricket: At Sundance, women are funny and fearless

Published January 26, 2012 5:29 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Park City • To Lizzy Caplan, it's fun to be bad.

"When you're a girl in a movie, you mostly get to say, 'Now behave, boys,' " Caplan said during a Q-and-A session this week after the premiere of the comedy "Bachelorette" at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. In "Bachelorette," Caplan said, "we got to act as bad as the guys do."

Some of the movies at this year's Sundance confirm what was already pretty clear: The raunchy female-driven comedy has arrived.

"Bachelorette," which follows three former high-school pals (played by Caplan, Kirsten Dunst and Isla Fisher) reuniting for the wedding of their least attractive clique member (Rebel Wilson), is just one of the titles in which women get big laughs by behaving badly.

Heck, it's not even the only one Caplan stars in. She plays Sarah, who recently dumped her boyfriend and finds herself in a rebound relationship, in the romantic comedy "Save the Date." That film also stars Alison Brie ("Community") as Sarah's sister Beth, who's obsessing over the details of her upcoming wedding.

Then there's "Hello I Must Be Going," which starts at the other end of marriage with the just-divorced 35-year-old Amy (Melanie Lynskey, formerly of "Two and a Half Men") dealing with the humiliation of moving back in with her parents (Blythe Danner, John Rubenstein). Amy's comical bad behavior involves her falling into a sexual relationship with a 19-year-old (Christopher Abbott).

Speaking of divorce, Sundance also premiered "Celeste and Jesse Forever," in which a couple (Rashida Jones, who co-wrote, and Andy Samberg) try to remain friends after divorce.

Also premiering was "For a Good Time, Call …" in which two college acquaintances (Lauren Anne Miller, who co-wrote, and Ari Graynor) kick off a lucrative side business in prostitution.

What these movies have in common is that they aim to be funny — and the ones I've seen succeeded — and they put women in charge.

"Bachelorette" was written and directed by a woman, Leslye Headland. "For a Good Time, Call …" and "Celeste and Jesse Forever" were co-written by their female co-stars. And first-timer Sarah Koskoff wrote "Hello I Must Be Going." ("Save the Date" was written by three guys, one of whom directed the film.)

Some observers compare these movies to "Bridesmaids," last year's female-centric hit. It's a facile comparison that doesn't hold water, since the new films were well in the works before "Bridesmaids" was released last May.

But the success of "Bridesmaids," at the box office and in Oscar nominations (two this week, for Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo's screenplay and for Melissa McCarthy's supporting performance), seems to have woken up short-sighted Hollywood players who now suddenly are OK with women front-and-center in raunchy comedies. And these new movies may benefit from that change of heart.

James Marsden, who co-starred in "Bachelorette," is cool with that. "I think it's fantastic," Marsden said to an Eccles Theatre audience member who asked whether he liked playing second fiddle to women. "It's a great opportunity for the women to show off their comic talents."

What these Sundance titles show isn't that women can be funny — we already knew that. What they demonstrate is that talented, funny women aren't waiting around anymore for Hollywood to give them a chance. They're taking their own chances and making them pay off.

Sean P. Means writes The Cricket in daily blog form at http://www.sltrib.com/blogs/moviecricket. Contact him via email at movies@sltrib.com. Follow him on Twitter at @moviecricket or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/themoviecricket. —

Screenings of girl-centric Sundance films

"Bachelorette"

Thursday, Jan. 26, 6:30 p.m., Egyptian Theater, Ogden

Saturday, Jan. 28, 5:30 p.m., Library Center Theatre, Park City

"Save the Date"

Friday, Jan. 27, 12:15 p.m., Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, Salt Lake City

Saturday, Jan. 28, 3 p.m. , Egyptian Theatre, Park City

"Hello I Must Be Going"

Friday, Jan. 27, 9 a.m., Eccles Theatre, Park City

"Celeste and Jesse Forever"

Saturday, Jan. 28, 6:30 p.m., Eccles Theatre, Park City

"For a Good Time, Call ..."

Saturday, Jan. 28, midnight, Broadway Centre Cinema 6, Salt Lake City

Sunday, Jan. 29, 6:30 p.m., Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, Salt Lake City