“Hey, I’m casting this new movie about a 30-something fashion executive who learns to give up on her careerism for some dreamy chef or single dad or whatever through a series of ridiculous events. We already signed Kate Hudson for the lead, but I need to find her best friend.”
“What’s the best friend like? Is she also an unconventionally attractive, professionally successful woman whose life would be complete if only she could just meet the right handsome caterer who also loves dogs and old movies?”
“No, it’s important that she doesn’t upstage the main character. Get me someone with weird hair, I guess. She has a real job in the script, but she should still have time to go shopping in the middle of the day. Also, she needs to be funny, because her main function is making sassy comments about the main character’s exploits. Maybe at the end we’ll hook her up with the restaurant owner’s wacky best friend. Yeah, I like that. Which reminds me, get me Sean William Scott while you’re at it.”
This conversation is how I imagine that Judy Greer has gotten every movie role she’s ever been in. She is the go-to actress if a movie needs to prove it’s possible that anyone would ever be friends with the heroine in real life. In 27 Dresses, she was “Casey”, Katherine Heigl’s sympathetic best friend. Her biggest moment is when the main character’s sister invites her to be part of her wedding because Casey “won’t throw off the aesthetics”, and her job is working at an eco-friendly outdoor sports magazine. This is a job that could never exist, particularly now that the Internet has killed paper, ink and putting one on top of the other for purposes of financial gain. In The Wedding Planner she makes the jump from being in a wedding to walking briskly behind Jennifer Lopez as she plans someone else’s wedding. The movie needs her because when Matthew McConaghy’s dashing doctor sweeps into the office to whisk JLo away to her new glorious life as the wife of a doctor, those floral catalogues and fabric samples are not going to manage themselves. In Elizabethtown she branches out as the sister of the hero, who offers sassy guidance on the best way to woo (some would say stalk) Kirsten Dunst. I even saw this movie and I don’t remember anything about her. Most recently, she was in Love Happens, playing an “employee and friend” of Jennifer Aniston’s flower shop owner. Luckily for Judy, no one saw Love Happens, so she gets a pass on this one under the Tree-Falls-in-Forest-But-Nobody-Hears rule.
However, the apex of Judy Greer’s best-friend act is unquestionably 13 Going on 30. In that movie, she gets to play Jennifer Garner’s best friend who helps her adjust to her new adult life after some sort of magic something turns her from the titular 13 to the titular 30. Judy is in full-throttle sassy best friend mode in this movie. She has a giant head of frizzy blonde hair, drinks seven lattes an hour, and is a horrible backstabbing bitch who undermines Jenny G at every opportunity. She gossips about her to their coworkers, says mean things about her hair and clothes, and in the emotional climax of the film, steals Jen’s photoshoot work and gives it to a rival magazine so they’ll hire her as their editor-in-chief. Sure, Jen marries the photographer and lives in what is literally a giant dollhouse of perfection with him, but she almost didn’t make it because she made the same mistake as so many romcom heroines: she chose Judy Greer as her best friend.
The weird footnote to Judy Greer is that she is insanely funny in both the beloved “Arrested Development” (But “there’s always money in the banana stand!” Shut up, nerds. It’s gone and it’s not coming back.) and the brand new but hilarious FX cartoon “Archer”. In “Arrested”, she played George Bluth Sr.’s assistant and lover Kitty Sanchez. I don’t know who she plays in “Archer” but that show is also really funny, so she gets big ups for it anyway.
Although now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure she plays the best friend.