Funny Ladies Poised To Rule This Summer’s Box Office

By  · Published on April 10th, 2015

Universal Pictures

Call it the Bridesmaids promise. After the Kristen Wiig-starring comedy upended the box office back in 2011, the multiplex seemed all but guaranteed for a funny lady-centric revival, one that never quite delivered as promised. That’s not to say that female-driven comedies haven’t hit the box office in the interim – from the charming For A Good Time, Call… to the dark Bachelorette, the star-stacked The Heat to the dismal Tammy – but none of them has made quite the splash (financially or culturally) that the blockbuster Bridesmaids did.

Four years on, the ripple effect of Bridesmaids might finally be making some waves, thanks to a summer release calendar packed with female-driven comedies that run the gamut between the silly and the sublime. You say you want a revolution? Well, this is what it looks like – not a calendar filled with Bridesmaids clones, but a season marked by funny women trying on different kinds of comedy to better serve an audience eager to laugh.

The Heavy Hitters

The summer season will see the release of two already-hyped female-driven comedies: the sequel to 2012’s surprise hit Pitch Perfect (wonderfully and simply titled just Pitch Perfect 2) and Amy Schumer’s highly lauded Trainwreck. Both features look poised to capitalize on major buzz and built-in audiences.

Fans of Pitch Perfect have a lot to look forward to with the new feature, which looks to basically be going old school with its sequel-ness, turning the original story into something bigger and bolder (you know, like taking the first film’s national competition and going global with it, the kind of story expansion that allows old charms to stay firmly in place). Most of the film’s beloved stars are back, including Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson, with original co-star and producer Elizabeth Banks stepping behind the camera for her directorial debut. Pitch Perfect was a surprise smash, bolstered by humor, heart, and an endlessly catchy soundtrack. Given that its sequel appears to be going for the same formula (no Pitch Perfect In Space here, people), it will likely do well with its dedicated fans, maybe even snapping up some new ones on the way.

Schumer’s Trainwreck has been garnering buzz for months, and its stellar work-in-progress premiere at SXSW only pushed it still further over the top. Our own Neil Miller used that SXSW screening to usher in the “era of Amy Schumer,” which is the sort of high praise that’s rarely meted out to women in Hollywood.

The Gigglers

The summer also boasts the arrival of two goofier-looking outings, thanks to the Reese Witherspoon– and Sofia Vergara-starring Hot Pursuit, which looks to be cut from some of The Heat’s cloth, and the Melissa McCarthy vehicle Spy. Both comedies look to skew to the sillier side of things, with lots of big sight gags and broad humor to (hopefully) inspire scads of moviegoers to turn out to see them.

Witherspoon and Vergara are an unexpected comedic duo – that appears to be at least part of the gag of the film – but Hot Pursuit plays up their outsized personalities (or, at least, perception of them – Witherspoon is Type A! Vergara is loud!) for maximum humor. Hot Pursuit doesn’t look like the kind of paradigm-shattering feature that Bridesmaids was, but it does look fun. You know what’s fun? Fun.

Elsewhere, McCarthy brings her own schtick to Spy, which sees her as a doofy CIA analyst who is unexpectedly tasked with going undercover…out in the field. Spy looks to fit quite firmly into McCarthy’s wheelhouse – she’s loud and crazy and weird and people don’t know what to make of her! – but at least it looks to be less ill-advised than Tammy, which never quite gelled together the way it needed to. The film also includes an unexpected supporting cast, mainly Jason Statham, who could help pull McCarthy, by all means a talented comedian, into some fresh territory and out of the repetitive features she’s been making for awhile now.

The Offbeat Picks

For comedy fans looking for something a little different, however, this summer will also see the release of non-blockbuster, non-mainstream comedies that, yup, still place women at the fore. The charming Blythe Danner outing I’ll See You In My Dreams examines late-in-light issues with a deft hand. Although the film – which I saw and really fell for at Sundance back in January – deals with some tough stuff (fine, death, mainly death), it’s also warm-hearted and frequently hilarious. Danner is a dream, but she’s also joined by a posse of powerhouse female talent, including Rhea Perlman, Mary Kay Place, and June Squibb, who engage in some unexpected high jinks (emphasis on the “high”).

Wiig is back, too, with another attempt at breaking through to a big screen audience, thanks to Welcome to Me, which looks to blend comedy and drama in a major way. Wiig stars in the film as a woman with borderline personality disorder who, upon winning the lottery, pours all her funds into launching her own talk show. It sounds funny enough, but it also sounds like the kind of dramedy that will have to deftly maneuver the darkness and the light in order to succeed.