Bridget Jones II is so bad on so many levels that it will be difficult for me to keep this post deservingly short. If you’re in a hurry, read my title.
[But first, in answer to Eric’s thoughtful enquiry, I have not been following anything like my usual routine lately. That, my being ill over the weekend, and my general Internet problems have made for meagre posting. I hope to get back into a rhythm next week.]
Now, back to what is almost certain to be the worst film of the year, because, unlike most other bad films, it cannot cite limited funding or talent or interest as excuses for its badness. I set out ready to like it. I was dragged to the first one and was hugely and pleasantly surprised that it turned a thin joke in The Independent (which I read regularly while I was actually working “in the media” in London) into a funny, almost-spiky mainstream comedy. This time I had been invited to a première and I happily put on black tie for what I thought would be a fun night out. It was a fun night out, but not because of the movie, which, I must remind you, I was already well-disposed towards. I have plenty of time for a good chick flick and I am so susceptible to cinematic sentimentality that I could be made to cry by a well-scripted advertisement for feminine hygiene products.
BJ2 isn’t just a bad chick flick. It is a bad flick. It is artistically bad. It is intellectually bad. It is technically bad. It is morally bad.
BJ2 is bad because it has an insultingly implausible script acted by people phoning in their performances from a runaway trolley in a disused tin mine in Cornwall on a broken mobile phone with a weak battery. BJ2 is bad because it is as moving as a plea for clemency from Saddam Hussein. It is bad because its soundtrack was cobbled together at high-level meetings between various large London music publishing companies wanting to “monetize” their back catalogues and the people representing permatanned pop singers with vocal chords made from expanded foam packing materials wanting to maximize their exposure. BJ2 is bad because it pretends to be quirky and modern even as it pushes an ideal of womanhood as damaging as foot binding.
Is there anything good about BJ2? There is.
Saints preserve us, one of them is Hugh Grant. Every time he appears on screen he manages to bag at least one of the ten good lines in the film. He is as unconvincing as the rest of the cast, but at least he is funny. He mugs so much I kept expecting him to turn to the audience and address us directly: “Yeah, of course it’s cack, but it’s too late now: you’ve paid. Hah!”
Another is Renée Zellweger who—heaven knows why—has been doing the interview rounds saying that she would only have allowed herself to do Bridget again if the screenplay had some substance. So why the fuck did she feed herself up, wobble around in unflattering clothes, and generally out-ugly late-period Brando for this? She is enthusiastic and her accent is excellent (if odd), but she is a wave function approximating to a person. Despite her efforts, just as I wanted every character in The Blair Witch Project to die horribly within about fifteen minutes of meeting them, I wanted BJ to suffer every indignity visited upon her. How are we supposed to believe that a woman I would dump for her utter childishness shortly after opening the wine menu is so appealing to so many other people in this story? [I’d prefer it if people didn’t address that one directly in the comments, thank you.]
Zellweger is, however, responsible for much of the third good thing: the physical comedy. I hate physical comedy because it is almost always stupid. But, like Diana Spencer in a posh nursery when the other staff are outside the building, the falling about is at least a little bit more sophisticated than much of what it going on around it. There is a nicely choreographed skiing sequence, and Hugh Grant and Colin Firth reprise their crap fighting to amusing effect. (Perhaps another good thing about this film is that, after his fifty-seven-varieties-of-tedious-brooding contribution to this, women will go off him completely and no longer wibble on about Firth clambering out of That Bloody Lake.)
Tell everyone you know not to see this. I know I will. I am proud to say that I opened my cheque book for charity this evening, rather than for the cynical bastards responsible for this crime against film-making, not that it will make much difference. After all the other screenings they’ll be shovelling it into the back of people carrier, just like they’re shovelling their poisonous sexist myths into the minds of millions of impressionable young women: dye your hair blonde, get a girly job, totter around spouting pop culture bollocks, drink, smoke and talk about “shagging” a lot, and generally don’t bother your pretty little head with anything too challenging; and perhaps a nice old Etonian (an emotionally constipated one, naturally) with a title and an impressive-sounding, right-on, well-paid job will rescue you from your insignificance by asking you to be his wife. It’s okay: it’s ironic.
Girls, just say no.