BRIDGET JONES’ BABY is a most redundant sequel. And it has a derivative, plays it safe trailer to prove it. The first trailer was just about ok..even had LAUGHS! This new one? Meh. Just ‘meh’. Yuck. You get the point.
Allow me to explain..
Let’s start with Bridget, shall we? She is a heroine to women everywhere. To the extent that the initial satire has been displaced by genuine emulation. Dating sites full of ‘I’m a real life Bridget Jones, me’. Anecdotes at water coolers and so on ‘This is very Bridget Jones’. You must know the sort of thing, surely?
Bridget’s charm crossed boundaries of race, age, class, status and even gender, in so far as EVERYONE could see a bit of Bridget in their own exploits. We ALL have had THAT moment..where we MEAN To say the RIGHT thing; yet end up saying and possibly doing..well..something rather wrong? It’s frightfully English. And so very HUMAN.
To be ambitious on one hand, even socially mobile and modern, yet flawed and insecure. And watching the personification of those endearing traits evolve and survive and thrive against the odds was, indeed, a real treat to movie-goers everywhere for the first two BRIDGET JONES films (Diary /Edge of Reason).
And so.. Bridget Jones’ Baby SHOULD be a welcome arrival. But something is very wrong, here. You see, even if we want more of the same in a character, we still want their basic situation, timeline and status to have..moved on a bit? And here, whilst it is lovely to see Renee back as Bridget, this feels like a surrealism set-piece.The jokes, the sets, the ambiance: ALL stuck in the 2000s? Granted, there is a joke about TINDER dating apps..but it’s out of place, paradoxically.
See, Bridget kind of INVENTED the Tinder summary /Facebook status update /Twitter feed WITHIN the format of her diaries. It’s WHY we all want to post dinner/ cat pics and boast of calorie busting / bad dates etc. Well, I still do, anyway. Makes one think they should have just re-booted and done it as a period piece? But no.
We are invested in THESE characters. THIS vision. Right?..Ok. Yes. And in fairness, things have moved on in some senses in that Shazza, who was Bridget’s best mate, now has babies. Great! Sally Phillips: we LOVE you, by the way..a graduate of my beloved New College and star of Alan Partridge et al.
But WHAT ABOUT BRIDGET?!
Well..she is still falling on her lovely bottom. And has broken up from Mark D’Arcy. FIVE years ago? So..nothing happened in her world for over a decade? No progress? Just making up / breaking up with Arsey D’arcy? Meh. I accept that she is pregnant (as in, having a baby, to the layperson). And its paternity is a subject of doubt. Fine. But it’s a bit tired as a plot pivot?
Bridget would surely be the FIRST ever Mum to simply persuade the incoming baby and all friends and family that having two Dads was the new ‘thing': cool, normal, human. And indeed, perhaps they do go there? We shall just have to wait and see. But if that were the resolution, the initial conflict seems absent, too. No..dare I say it..antagonist. Or, put more..directly..
NO SIGN of DANIEL CLEAVER (Hugh Grant: also a New College man, btw..just sayin’, like..). Fact is, if you ARE going to bring on and drag out remnants of a series that SHOULD have filmed this sequel like seven years ago at least..you cannot..EVER..omit one of the CRITICAL players (in every sense).
Don’t believe me? Ok: just watch Independence Day 2 (the shit one; the one without Will Smith)..ok..don’t do that..I’m not that cruel. Try instead: GODFATHER 3: it’s a LOT better than made out but just IMAGINE how GREAT it COULD have been as the final battle between Al Pacino’s Michael and Robert Duvall’s Tom (Duvall instead opted for a massive payday on the Tom Cruise race driving flick, DAYS OF THUNDER).
Tom and Hugh..anyone see a slight resemblance? Someone cast those guys as Brothers!
Hugh Grant has been missing in action from the rom-com scene for a bit. I still argue that his absence hurt the Box Office of the last few Richard Curtis efforts (no offence, Team Curtis..I love you, actually..But i DID say at the time: PUT HUGH IN IT. TWICE! ). Curtis, incidentally, was a collaborator on the scripts of Bridget’s first two screen adventures. #Trivia!
Back to Hugh /Cleaver..
Hugh’s argument for his absence here (which he did have the good grace to explain, at least) is that a script for Bridget Jones 3 was in development for years and several drafts simply did not work and by that stage he had gotten too old to be playing the lothario (he’s only 55 but yeah..anyway).
But no Cleaver /Grant in a Bridget Jones film = a LOT less laughs and also, less pathos, for BOTH Jones and D’Arcy, with Cleaver the closest thing to a ‘villain’ this series had. He is the dragon that D’Arcy must slay and that Bridget must confront. No? Ok, maybe I am taking the Joseph Campbell mono-myth a BIT too far there. But even so..
Instead? We get..brace yourselves..PATRICK DEMPSEY! I know. That box office behemoth. He was at least THIRD BILLING in TRANSFORMERS 3! Generic American hero-man or corporate sleaze villain type. Or both. He can do both. Or either. Together, even, at a stretch? And is that designer stubble..or has his character simply not shaved, as is fashion among today’s wallies? Dunno. Don’t care.
And I should care, because I LOVED Edge of Reason (Bridget Jones 2), despite hating Bridget Jones’ Diary (yes I know you all love it; but it’s a nasty little film that thinks it’s ‘ok’ to treat women like shit and make jokes about Bosnia and Chechnya).
Granted, there ARE laughs in the BRIDGET JONES’ BABY trailer and some fidelity to the Bridget newspaper columns. Said columns were the source of my first encounter with the character. I thought she was real back then. Her photo and ‘M.O’ reminded me of a girl I had a massive crush on at the time. I even applied for work experience! Take pity on me though..I was only 15? Well..16, give or take, but even so..you’d have been fooled, too. Until the bit where she gets put in a Thai Prison, that is. Then the penny dropped. If it didn’t then really..er..well..you have my deepest..sympathies. Yep.
What MIGHT have been better as a premise for Bridget Jones 3? Well, braver, bolder, riskier but..better? They could have taken the ‘baby’ premise and reduced it to a prologue skit. Then given us the REAL part 3..BRIDGET JONES: MAD ABOUT THE BOY. It was a great read, from writer HELEN FIELDING. It took a LOT of flack as a book and primarily for ONE major character’s fate that kind of muted the ‘fun’ tone of previous outings for Bridget.
But Mad About the Boy was still ‘her’. Still Bridget. She grew as a character, whilst remaining true to what we knew and loved. And triumphed against the odds. All still punctuated by suitors who resembled every kind of male movie star template, from pretty boy ‘Roxter’ through to a macho, dashing and decent Army veteran/ PE Teacher, who looked a BIT like..Daniel Craig (the description was quite clear)?
Critically..Cleaver was in Mad About the Boy, too and kind of got his comeuppance , c/o the bathos of simply getting..older. Sound familiar? Yes! It’s called character development again, whilst staying true to the basic templates that we all fell in love with. It’s also a part that Hugh Grant would probably have been perhaps happier to play and had some fun with /been stretched by, as would we, as viewers. Instead, we get a bland Patrick Dempsey and paternity jokes. But there you have it.
Of course, they could still make a Bridget Jones 4 and restore some missed opportunities? That’s unlikely, but by no means impossible, especially given the safety and likely commercial success of this latest effort. Or they could just do a spin-off? Why not? Shared universes are all the rage now, thanks to Marvel and DC and co!
When Shazza meets Cleaver.. Perhaps their eyes meet at some Oxford College reunion / fund raiser? ‘Daniel Cleaver is about to meet his match’. Or something like that. No, thought not. But it’d make for great fan-fiction. Then self-publish, change the character names and you get the next FIFTY SHADES OF GREY! ‘Now Shazza..that’s a fabulous skirt but really..’.
Ok, I’ll shut up now. Maybe you are better off just watching BRIDGET JONES’ BABY? It’s released on September 16th and we will post an official verdict on the actual film (as opposed to the trailer / meta-text stuff) then! Besides..it’s just a diary..I mean..it’s only a TRAILER. Right?