‘Bridesmaids’ director Paul Feig surprised at lack of gal-pal pics

MONTREAL – Director Paul Feig admits he’s as puzzled as anyone at the dearth of over-the-top gal-pal comedies like his hit “Bridesmaids.”

“At the end of the day, it’s really terrible that we’re considered so groundbreaking,” he said in an interview Thursday.

The trend by filmmakers to generally see funny women in movies as mere comedic backup for men is “ridiculous,” he added.

“One of the things that drew me to the movie was the chance to prove that (trend) wrong and really let the funny women shine.”

“Bridesmaids,” which is about a group of oddball women preparing to send their friend down the matrimonial aisle, has tickled audiences since its release in May. It has even dethroned “Sex and the City” as the highest-grossing R-rated female comedy ever.

It’s been compared to “The Hangover” franchise, which broke box-office records and ranks as one of the biggest R-rated money-makers of all time.

Feig, who was in Montreal to accept the comedy director of the year award at the Just For Laughs festival, says he knew many funny women growing up and during his years as a standup comic and actor.

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“There are so many funny women. Why do they always have to be relegated to the role of the bitchy girlfriend or the nagging wife? That’s not funny. It’s just a waste of their talents.”

Feig laughed when asked if he had to connect more deeply with his feminine side to direct “Bridesmaids.”

“Sadly, I’m pretty in touch with that side. Literally, all my friends growing up were girls,” he said, adding he had also worked with many strong female actors like Edie Falco on “Nurse Jackie” and Mary Louise Parker on “Weeds.”

“You just approach everybody like they’re a human being and listen to their concerns and get the most honest performance out of them,” said Feig, who also gave a master class at the festival on directing film comedies.

Feig acknowledged the cast of “Bridesmaids” aren’t exactly household names – star Kristen Wiig is one of the ensemble on “Saturday Night Live” – and he said it proves well-known actors aren’t always needed to make a hit.

“The success of “Bridesmaids” shows that if you have a good story and you cast it with the best people for the roles, no matter who they are, then it’s going to work,” he said.

“They’re all beautiful women but they’re real. They’re not intimidating. They look like people that are your friends.”

Feig joked he was relieved when “Bridesmaids” was deemed a financial hit but added he was stunned when it supplanted the mega-popular “Sex and the City” at the box office.

“I almost fainted when that stat came out,” he said. “I just assumed ‘Sex and the City’ had gone so far through the roof that we didn’t even have a shot at it.”

Feig acknowledged there are musings about a sequel to “Bridesmaids” but nothing has been firmed up yet.

“The only concern for us is that it just has to be as good or better than the first one,” he said.

He’s working on another movie now with producer Judd Apatow called “Dumb Jock” and another project that is still under wraps.

Feig, who moves easily between film and TV, having directed such acclaimed shows as “The Office,” “30 Rock” and “Arrested Development,” doesn’t have a preference among the mediums.

He said TV is going through a golden age now in terms of creativity and he likes the idea that it is so immediate. He also enjoys taking characters and revisiting them every week, changing them and putting them in different compelling plot lines that could go on indefinitely.

“Movies are the ultimate challenge because you have to do all that in two hours.”

But with all the remakes out there, Feig says he’s not tempted to do a new version of “Freaks and Geeks,” the high school dramedy he created in the 1990s which had a short TV run but continues to gain fans on DVD.

He says he’s thrilled by the fact the show is still popular, saying that’s a testament to good storytelling. He doesn’t see the point in tampering with it and risk producing something that might turn out less satisfying than the original.

Feig doesn’t mind moving on to new challenges.

“I’m so glad ‘Bridesmaids’ did so well because I can’t keep living my reputation off something I did 11 years ago,” he joked.