Inkwell’s last movie review was of Kinsey (see here, here, and here), the unintentionally funny flick about a sex-crazed academic who torments his children at the dinner table by talking about the vulva and who started the sexual revolution.
The Kinseys were wacky weirdos, and it’s a crying shame that the Mom and Pop Kinsey (Laura Linney and Liam Neeson) weren’t chosen instead of Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand to play the Fockers, the daffy, post-sex Revolution in-laws in ‘Meet the Fockers,’ the sequel to ‘Meet the Parents.’ Hollywood missed an opportunity here.
But I do have a movie to recommend that’s *intentionally* funny and doesn’t have some odious message–Bridget Jones the Edge of Reason. The first installment of Bridget’s saga ended when Bridget (Rene Zellwegger), a plump, weight-obsessed romantic, got her guy, Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), a rather pompous London lawyer but a much nicer guy than Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) with whom Bridget had been having a fling.
The new movie opens hilariously when the hapless Bridget, a TV reporter, is doing a segment that involves parachuting out of a plane–she lands in a pig pen. It is obvious that everybody in the newsroom has heard Bridget–infatuated both by Mark and the idea of having a beau–talk about her boyfriend ad nauseam.
Bridget and Mark have been together for several months, and they are in love, and the sex is great—-somehow all the talk about “shagging” isn’t enough to move the movie out of the PG category. It’s not as raw as what Tom Wolfe calls “f— patois” in his new novel, “I Am Charlotte Simmons.” And, most of all, it’s not cynical. Bridget is just the modern version of an old-fashioned girl–she wants a ring by spring followed by a blissful life with Mark.
Bridget is hopelessly insecure, obsessed with Rebecca, a svelte woman who seems to be pursuing Mark–Rebecca even shows up unannounced on their skiing trip to Switzerland and, unlike Bridget, who is dressed in what appears to be an unfortunate pink bunny outfit, skis flawlessly.
The capsule review on the Washington Post made the movie sound quite dreary:
“Really, after having shed laughter and tears aplenty over the plump, thirty something Jones the first time around, you feel a bit irritated when she makes the same mistakes and goes through the self-same doubts. It seems that the producers thought the same way, because instead of shooting the film entirely in London, they make exotic trips to Swiss chalets and Thai getaways and even go the Bangkok Hilton way for a while.”
I didn’t feel that way at all–don’t we go through life making the same mistakes over and over again? And, when you’re as much of a natural comic as Renee/Bridget, the mistakes can be funny/poignant. I think that what really irritated some critics is that Bridget Jones, in her own zany way, is an exemplar of trad vals.
The plot of the movie hinges on the reemergence of Daniel at a time when Bridget and Mark have called it off, mostly because of Bridget’s jealousy over Rebecca, who has publicly humiliated her at a lawyers ball (a very funny scene in which the legal lads play games involving Latin and Greek tags–Bridge, looking absurd thanks to her efforts to look gorgeous for the important evening, almost triumphs in the pop culture segment of the quiz but is bested by Rebecca).
Daniel and Bridget head off to Bangkok to shoot a TV show together. Bridget is thrown in a Bangkok jail, and the cad Daniel abandons her, while Mark goes to great lengths to rescue her. But a key moment of the movie is Daniel’s attempt to seduce Bridget in his Bangkok hotel–she stops short. For Bridget, going to bed with a guy is not a cynical, loveless act.
Yes, I know Jane Austen heroines didn’t even engage in heavy petting–but for a modern movie heroine, Bridget is about as trad val as it gets. This plays into what happens with Mark–oh, well, I might as well tell you, they get engaged in a funny scene in the Inns of Court, where stuffy Mark works.
You know all along that Bridget and Mark will get back together and that, despite being a stuffed shirt, Mark adores Bridget. I’m not spoiling anything. The real surprise is about Rebecca, Mark’s putative squeeze–and I won’t spoil that because it’s genuinely funny.