Is it more than just
A typical rom-com film?
I can’t really tell
Every genre out there has its pillars. You can’t watch a crime drama without seeing The Godfather‘s influence. All computer-animated adventures are held up to the Toy Story standard. Die Hard‘s impact on action movies is so great that some films earn reputations as “Die Hard on a bus” (Speed, phenomenal), “Die Hard on a plane” (Air Force One, similarly phenomenal), or “Die Hard in the White House” (Olympus Has Fallen, White House Down, both awful).
Correct me if I’m wrong (and my nascent view of pop culture almost assures that I am), but I thought prior to this challenge that Bridget Jones’s Diary was something of a staple of the romantic comedy genre, with an almost cult-like following. Am I completely off-base here? Am I giving this movie more credit than it deserves?
The point is, I began watching this film with the intention of figuring out why it is so popular (if, indeed, it actually is). I’ve come up with a few reasons.
One, it’s based on a popular book that sold over two million copies. Books that become films tend to have voracious followings, and I can only imagine the impact a book such as this – about a socially awkward, overweight sweetheart caught in a love triangle with two attractive British gentlemen – would have on its constituency.
Two, it’s not a bad movie. It feels a bit inconsequential at times but for the most part, there are laughs to be had an heartstrings to be tugged. And also, there’s Hugh Grant. What more could you want, right? (Side note: this is the second movie I’ve seen starring Hugh Grant during this challenge, and for whatever reason it feels like the tenth movie I’ve seen with him.)
So I come back to my original question: is Bridget Jones’s (Jones’s? Jones’? Jones?) Diary a staple of the romantic comedy world, or is my perception warped by my philistine perspective of the genre?
Let me know, lest I continue flailing around in the depths of pop culture.
Believe it or not, this is the first movie I have ever seen starring Renée Zellweger, who is apparently the person who played Bridget Jones despite the fact that she now looks nothing like she did in 2001 (which is unfortunate). I found her presence on screen to be quite pleasant and she fit the role very well. I did some research and saw that there was controversy surrounding her casting, mostly because she was neither British nor overweight, two major characteristics of the book’s protagonist. Zellweger gained 20 pounds for the role and worked on a British accent for a year, and the results are fun to watch.
Her British accent sounds fine to me. There are comment boards everywhere saying its the worst thing to happen to England since 1776. I thought Amy Adams’ accent in American Hustle was decent even though literally everyone seemed to think otherwise; obviously I’m not a linguist, but it shouldn’t really matter in the grand scheme. Zellweger did her darnedest no matter what you think.
Zellweger hasn’t acted in a movie since 2010. Does anyone know why she’s taken so much time off? I’m curious.
Trope Tracker 2015
One of the strengths of Bridget Jones’s Diary is its aversion to formula. The themes are mostly the same, but the way they are presented feel fresh and hip. The music is on point, the monologues are snappy, and there’s a lax, informal feeling that penetrates the pixels on screen. It didn’t escape from one trope, though, which has now popped up in nearly every rom-com I’ve watched in the last two weeks: The Run.
The Run is a term I’ve coined that describes the situation when a main character frantically makes a last-second dash to either stop a wedding or prevent their desired partner from leaving town. Bridget Jones does this twice: once when Bridget dashes to Darcy’s wedding to tell him she loves him, and again when Bridget chases Darcy when he departs upon reading her diary.
I’ve watched 14 rom-coms during this challenge. The Run appears in at least eight of them. This isn’t a bad – I just think some of these movies need to come up with a new way to put our intrepid lovers in a bind. To wit, it’s heart-pounding and intense when The Run occurs but it gets a bit tired. Up your game, rom-coms.
Moaning Myrtle: OK, now this is funny. One of Bridget’s friends is Jude, played by Shirley Henderson, who played Moaning Myrtle in the Harry Potter movies. The first time we meet Jude, it’s in a bathroom. I’m stupid, so I found this funny.
Don’ You Go Rounin’ Roun To Re Ro: There were parts of this film where I needed subtitles. I don’t mean to be rude but damn, British people can be hard to understand, especially when they talk fast.
There were a number of funny lines:
Bridget: “Thank you, Daniel, that is very good to know. But if staying here means working within 10 yards of you, frankly, I’d rather have a job wiping Saddam Hussein’s arse.”
Tom: “Well done Bridge, four hours of careful cooking and a feast of blue soup, omelette and marmalade. I think that deserves a toast, don’t you? To Bridget, who cannot cook, but who we love.”
But my personal favorite was this:
Interviewer: “What do you think of the El Nino phenomenon?”
Bridget: “It’s a blip. Latin music’s on its way out.”
Sappiness Rating: 4/10. The final scene where Bridget kisses Darcy in her underwear in the snow is pretty sappy but this movie wasn’t too gloppy. It was more funny than anything, and had a sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek way of looking at love. Nothing wrong with that!
There were some unfortunate issues with this film, notably the fact that several characters seemed to serve almost no purpose and Hugh Grant’s character was disregarded for like, half the movie, before he randomly showed up again to fight Colin Firth.
Also, and this is a minor point, but I felt as though the diary itself was completely underplayed. There was a cool scene near the beginning where Bridget was caught in a lie and the word “fuuuuuuuuuuckkkk” scrolled across the screen in handwriting – it was a really nice touch. It never showed up again! I think that could have really set this movie apart, having notes scrawled across the screen while Bridget thought about things. Honestly, the diary showed up maybe three times. In the final scene, it was full of notes that I had hardly seen Bridget write. A tad disappointing.
But for the most part, it was entertaining and very funny, and it had a different vibe than what I’ve become accustomed to over the course of this challenge.