Just over a year ago I wrote a post about the dearth of female-driven comedies, and mentioned that I was excited about Spring Breakdown, the Warner Brothers comedy starring Amy Poehler, Parker Posey, and Rachel Dratch. I remembered the movie the other day and went to IMDB to see when it was going to be released. Well the answer seems to be "never," at least not on the big screen. Spring Breakdown, about three geeky women who try to relive the crazy college days they never had, is going straight to DVD. Women & Hollywood blogger Melissa Silverstein and I try to figure out why Spring Breakdown is getting the short shrift, After the jump.When I heard about the straight to DVD treatment, my first instinct was to cry sexism. I assumed that movie studios were not going to release the film because even after the moderate success of Baby Mama, they believe a woman-led comedy will not sell. But then I thought about it some more, and had another revelation: maybe I'm the one being sexist. I was raging to a friend about Spring Breakdown not getting a proper release, and he said, "Maybe it's just not very good." That floored me. Maybe it's just. Not. Very. Good. That made me remember a comment made in the post I did about the Bride Wars trailer. If you'll recall, I found the trailer played to all the worst Bridezilla-ish stereotypes, and to that a commenter made some very good points, but then also a very bad one. "It might have gotten dumbed down and crappified, but there might actually be a good movie hiding behind the obnoxious trailer. Wouldn't be the first time. And, like Baby Mama, just the fact that it's a big budget comedy starring 2 women is a big big deal," the commenter argued. I was nodding my head in agreement, until this part: "Hopefully in a few years we'll have tons of good, bad, and mediocre female-driven comedies, but for now don't be so quick to shit on a movie written by, produced by, and starring women." The idea that we should judge comedies written by, produced by, and starring women by a different rubric than comedies created by men is the worst kind of sexism — it's the sexism of diminished expectations. Melissa hasn't seen Spring Breakdown, but she's not positive it's a stinker, either, by anyone's rubric. Here's what she had to say:
It's been done forever and I thought it was supposed to come out last spring around spring break which would have been perfect. So the fact that it's been sitting on the shelf for a while is not good news. Many movies, especially women's films have difficulty breaking into the market because there are just not enough theatres so even getting a DVD release is good for some people. This year films by Michelle Pfeiffer (the Amy Heckerling film- I Could Never Be Your Woman) and films that starred Meg Ryan and Diane Keaton have been dumped to DVD. But those were smaller films. Spring Breakdown is from Warner Brothers which only really knows how to release guy centric blockbusters. I think that the could release it and still make $20 [million] because its a comedy and its got Amy who is almost as big a Tina now. I'm sure there are many political issues that I know nothing about and I don't know if the film is a piece of crap. Baby Mama was good, not great, in my book but made money (and would make so much more now). With women's films you are screwed either way, first you don't want to release a bad movie starring and about women, especially a comedy because there are so few of those. I can just see the Judd Apatow fraternity rolling their eyes at a bad women's comedy. Why give Hollywood more ammunition to think we aren't a market? But we don't know if it is bad. I see comedies differently than my male counterparts. Maybe I would think it was funny even though the suits at Warners or the test audiences in Las Vegas or some other place didn't. Who knows?
Melissa also notes that Bride Wars was not written and directed by women — it had women as co-writers (it was directed by Gary Winick and written by Casey Wilson, June Diane Raphael and Greg DePaul). However, she also thinks there should be room for the crappy chick flicks alongside the female-driven comedies and dramas. "We need all kinds of women's movies, just like we get all types of men's movies," Melissa stresses. "I just wish we had more good scripts and more opportunities to see women on screen. Is that too much to ask for in 2008?" No, no it's not. Spring Breakdown [IMDB] Women & Hollywood Earlier: Bride Wars An Insult To Women, Brain Cells The Stepfordization Of Hollywood's Comely Comediennes