This is an installment for a series on this blog where Joe Brown, Sports Editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle, and I have a back-and-forth review of a movie. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, Brown picked “Bridget Jones’s Diary.”
The Movie: “Bridget Jones’s Diary”
Starring: Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant
Director: Sharon Maguire
Plot Summary: (From IMDB) A British woman is determined to improve herself while she looks for love in a year in which she keeps a personal diary.
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 81 percent
Brown: Last week with “RoboCop,” we returned to a tried-and-true JOE-DOWN formula by going with lizard brain fun ‘80s action.
And this week, I returned to one of my tried-and-true JOE-DOWN formulas: Making Froemming’s life terrible.
Enter “Bridget Jones’s Diary.”
And in this, we enter two worlds I know very, very little about: Romance and England. Love tries to find its way to a self-described spinster, which is something I’ve almost never heard an American woman refer to herself unironically. Meanwhile, random made-up-sounding lands like Cambridgeshire are brought up as people say the F-word about as much as “Scarface,” which is awfully jarring for a romantic comedy.
Before we dive into a British woman (played by a Texan somehow and got nominated for an Academy Award in the process) and her quest for self-discovery, how mad are you about this pick, Froemming?
Froemming: I went into this film very, very angry. I generally hate Rom-Coms, they are too sugary and predictable and the characters are often as deep as kids’ swimming pools.
So I was (REDACTED) surprised to find at the end of the film that I kinda liked it. Maybe it was the British accents and seeing Hugh Grant get punched in the face — at the end of viewing this I realized maybe, just maybe, I don’t have a pure black heart with an icy shell covering it.
Now, why don’t you kick this off.
Brown: You’ve gotten soft at your old age, Froemming. I’m looking for a bloodbath for my next pick.
So we’re introduced to Bridget Jones (Zellweger) as she narrates the beginning. And by British accent alone, I assumed this woman would be a shrew.
She makes her place in life known real quick: She’s in her early 30s, she’s single and overweight. … OK, nothing wrong with that, unless you’re every other character in this movie. In that case, Bridget may as well be a war criminal because how dare you be 30 and single?
Hell, in the first minute of the movie as Bridget goes to a family Christmas party, her mom comments about how Bridget’s wardrobe looks like she just walked out of Auschwitz.
Holy (REDACTED), movie.
Froemming: Yup, that happened. It was not what I was expecting out of a film like this.
But Bridget’s wardrobe has nothing on our other lead in this film with Mark Darcy (Firth), a man with no charisma and I seriously thought might be a sociopath all through this movie because he doesn’t emote and says random things at inappropriate times, all the time. He has bodies buried somewhere, I have no doubt about that.
And he is introduced wearing a green reindeer sweater that parents make their children to wear to embarrass them on his own accord. This man is unhinged.
Anyway, Bridget’s mom is trying to play matchmaker here with her daughter and Mark, despite all the red flags blaring from just looking at this man. Maybe they are too British and polite to point out he speaks like a robot and has the dead eyes of John Wayne Gacy?
Brown: Between Mark Darcy, RoboCop and Rod from “Birdemic,” we have seen quite a few robotic acting roles. Can we review one of the “Futurama” movies to study Calculon?
Also, it took until the end of the movie to figure out what Mark did for a career. He’s a barrister. Didn’t know that term, so I figured he was a barista or some English nobelman. Nope, apparently a barrister is a lawyer. … Sure, movie. Mark Darcy does have the personality of a law book.
And, we’re led to believe that he has no interest in Bridget by referring to her, to his mother, as “a verbally incontinent spinster who smokes like a chimney, drinks like a fish and dresses like her mother.” This comes from the man wearing a reindeer sweater.
You know what? No, they both rag on each other for their clothing. Both Bridget and Mark suck.
Froemming: You actually thought a barrister was a barista? Holy (REDACTED) Brown, read a book or watch Monty Python.
Brown: I don’t need to learn or read about England’s fancy terms for lawyers! I’m an American! #MAGA
Froemming: I’m just shocked barrister doesn’t have a random “U” in its spelling.
Well, it is now established that Mark is rude and creepy. I mean, he is always glaring at Bridget during all their run-ins in this film like he wants to see her head on a stick.
Bridget has made a New Year’s resolution. She is going to cut down on her smoking, drinking and she will try to lose weight, as well as not date someone who is an alcoholic, workaholic, ect., ect., which perfectly represents her boss, Daniel Cleaver (Grant). Also, it reinforces the idea that everyone in publishing is a drunk who is overworked.
Brown: We work in journalism, which is awfully close to publishing. That idea isn’t that far off.
Before Bridget comes to this epiphany, she’s in her apartment getting wine drunk and listening to “All By Myself.” At first, watching Bridget drown her sorrows in her PJs, I thought, “I’m a lonely guy, but thankfully I’m not Bridget Jones lonely.”
Then she started air-drumming. Then, it dawned on me: I AM BRIDGET JONES. Gender-swapped, of course.
Froemming: I had the SAME reaction. My god, this at times hit a little too close to home for me. Single, lonely and in my 30s. Thank goodness I have all this snark and pop culture references to fill the void of love.
Anyway, we see her work life, which is filled with people in her office that annoy her. We also see that Daniel has a thing with sending emails to his employees that are pretty explicit, because that’s how he reels in Ms. Jones.
Daniel is a Human Resources nightmare.
Brown: Hugh Grant plays a sleazeball. Real stretch for the man.
And really, Daniel is as much a PR nightmare as Michael Scott, but at least Michael Scott had a trying-too-hard charm about him. Daniel sees a woman in a skirt that’s a little bit short and immediately has the hormones I had the first time I watched “Porky’s.”
Naturally, Bridget has fun with his advances because in her quest for personal improvement, there’s always a battle with vices you know will screw you up eventually.
Plus, when the other man pursuing you is Mark, the lawyer with the personality of a gasping-for-water trout, scuzzy Daniel seems like a solid option.
Froemming: Was Mark actually trying to woo Bridget? I didn’t see that until he said it in his robot voice toward the end of the film. He just glares at her with what I assumed was the rage of a million fiery suns before that part.
Brown: Depends on your interpretation. Either he looked longingly at her from afar with love in his heart. Or else he was pondering what piece of upholstery he would use Bridget’s skin for in his apartment.
Froemming: Well, Bridget has the hots for this bad boy, as confusing as it is to call Hugh Grant a “bad boy.”
Brown: Look, I totally get Hugh Grant’s charm. He’s charismatic. So much so that I have an off-topic question for you, Froemming: Hugh Grant as a Bond villain, yay or nay? I thought he’d make a decent one, like a poor man’s Christoph Waltz.
Froemming: Oh, Grant has charm and charisma up to his eyeballs for sure. And I could see him as a Bond villain, one that is charming and sweet but then does a 180 and betrays Bond but is very, very polite about it.
Now, Daniel and Bridget take things to the next level and begin sleeping with one another after a bunch of flirting. Bridget is on Cloud 9, and tells her friends as much. Her friends, by the way, are all in their 30s, single, smoke and drink a lot, so I was a little baffled why she would care what people outside her group thought about that sort of thing.
She invites Daniel on a vacation, I am not British and refuse to call something not marked on every calendar a “holiday.” That is just insanity and proves I will never understand Brits.
Brown: And yet you give me hell for not knowing what a barrister is. (REDACTED) you, Froemming.
Froemming: That is just plain knowledge. Seriously, watch some Monty Python and expand your horizons.
Brown: The holiday (using this just to irritate you, Froemming) is cut short by Daniel as work gets in the way. So, he won’t meet Bridget’s family in a party that is themed as “Tarts & Vicars” because British words for prostitutes and priests are funny.
Or, at least it was until Bridget’s creepy-ass “uncle” axed the theme at the last minute, leaving Bridget in front of family and friends with a Playboy Bunny outfit.
Honestly, that’s (REDACTED) up. I feel like Bridget showing up to a party inappropriately dressed as a bunny is something Cheryl Tunt’s gypsy from “Archer” would foretell.
Froemming: What family doesn’t have theme parties where you dress up like priests and hookers? The British, what a strange people. They call French fries chips. And call what we refer to as chips as crisps. There’s a reason the British Empire fell.
And things are not all good with her family. Prior to this, her mother left her father for an orange TV personality who hawks crappy products and has bad hair.
So at the party, her dad is trying to make her mother jealous by flirting with women, which doesn’t work because she is into her new love interest, who plans on making England great again with jewelry.
Bridget returns from her vacation and, still dressed like a Playboy Bunny for some reason, heads to Daniel’s place. He is busy with work and infidelity here, as Bridget realizes this scumbag she had fallen for is like all the other scumbags she has known.
Seriously, scumbags are scumbags. You shouldn’t be surprised when Hugh Grant cheats on you. In film and real life.
Brown: Daniel builds a bit of sympathy when he tells Bridget about his past with Mark: Daniel was the best man at Mark’s wedding. But at one point, Mark slept with Daniel’s fiancee.
And then Daniel pulls this stuff, because he’s played by Hugh Grant, who cheated on Elizabeth Hurley. As a former teen who loved the Austin Powers movies, (REDACTED) you, Hugh Grant.
Froemming: I second that.
Brown: The woman, Lara, is no gem either. Her first comment, as Bridget walks in on her naked and hiding her body behind a law book (because that’s how business meetings are traditionally conducted), she says to Daniel “You said she was thin.”
I hate you both so, so much.
Naturally, Bridget handles this like a champ by downing vodka and watching “Fatal Attraction.” Frankly, I don’t blame her if she goes all Glenn Close on her former lover.
Froemming: When my ex-wife left me, I handled it by downing beer and watching “Fuller House” because you can’t keep your sports reporter in check and let him make a JOE-DOWN suggestion that haunts us to this day.
So Bridget decides to change her life once again, by actually going through with her resolution of cutting the smokes and booze and exercising, and she realizes she has to make a career change because working with an ex has got to be a nightmare. I go out of my way to avoid all my exes, because I am a cowardly person who hates confrontation.
Brown: I’m much the same way. More like, “You hurt me? Never dealing with you again.”
Has this become our most therapeutic JOE-DOWN?
Froemming: I exercised my demons with “Fuller House.” That show sure got the brunt of my rage. This is the most candid we have been I think.
Anyway, Bridget starts interviewing at television news channels, which is a perfect job for someone emotionally broken and isn’t searching for a lot of money.
Brown: This is after Bridget told Daniel off by saying that she’d rather “have a job wiping Saddam Hussein’s arse” than work with him for another minute. You deserve everything you get Hugh Grant. I mean, Daniel. No, I mean both of you.
Now, after this telling off, the movie goes in the most relatable direction I can imagine: A dinner party with a bunch of married couples. And Bridget’s perception of this as a single 30-something is spot on: There is nothing worse than smug married couples.
And with the kind of friends she has, where they are constantly commenting on her single status, how her biological clock was ticking, etc., my brain went full “Game of Thrones” Red Wedding (NSFW). I can only imagine Bridget’s brain did the same here.
After all, I unfriended my grandmother on Facebook for getting into my business too much over being single.
Froemming: I just lie to my family about my relationship status. It is easier that way.
Now we come to Bridget’s big television debut, where she slides down a fire pole and the UK gets a glimpse of her butt on live TV. This is why I can’t take broadcast journalism seriously. Despite this ratings hit that makes broadcast editors drool like the true monsters they are, Bridget finds herself with a bigger story: Two people who are on trial and might be deported with a humanitarian angle to it. All she has to do is show up on time and interview the two.
Unfortunately, her love of smoking gets in the way of her job.
Brown: We need to backtrack a second. So at this dinner party, Mark is there and decides to tell Bridget that he has feelings for her. In fact, he likes her “just the way she is.” Awww.
Wait, no. Up to this point, Mark and Bridget have had NO chemistry and are only put in the same places because their parents won’t get out of their (REDACTED) lives.
So, when she misses the chance to interview the couple at the courthouse (in fact, no one got the interview), she is approached by Mark. And because they have feelings for each other, Mark does Bridget a solid. Turns out, he represented the couple in court and will give Bridget an exclusive interview for her network that, let’s be honest, is probably England’s equivalent of public access.
And, it goes well, and people seem to be into Bridget, as opposed to most of the movie where her most redeeming quality is her awkward clumsiness.
Froemming: And now she is a bonafide hit reporter! And to celebrate, she is going to make a fancy meal for her friends. But, much like I am, she is a disaster in the kitchen. She somehow figured out how to make that blue milk from “A New Hope,” but calls it “soup,” which I am not sure if that’s how the Brits refer to milk, because they are crazy people.
Well, Mark shows up to congratulate her on her big success and sees the horror show of her kitchen. So, because he is a good guy all of a sudden, he helps her out with her disgusting meal.
Brown: It’s like in “Futurama” where Bender makes unappealing and inedible food, yet wins a cooking contest because the food is loaded with LSD.
It’s also Bridget’s birthday, so her motley crew of friends come by to eat what looks like the contents of her garbage disposal. She can’t cook, but her friends love her, just the way she is.
Speaking of garbage, a-hole returns to the scene as Daniel barges in and tries to make amends to Bridget.
Mark is about to leave the scene until his lust for revenge takes over and he challenges Daniel like Randy Marsh challenges people on Little League fields.
Froemming: I never suspected we would get a “They Live” kind of street battle between two polite Brits, but hot damn we did!
Brown: Let’s not give it that much of a ringing endorsement. It’s a pretty sweet/hilarious fight in the streets, but I did write in my notes that I wish this was a hyper-realistic, eight-minute fight like “They Live.” It wouldn’t have fit the tone of the movie but it sure as hell would have been sweet.
Speaking of “South Park,” Bridget’s friend running into a restaurant to yell “FIGHT” like Cartman gave me a legit belly laugh.
Froemming: I was laughing through that whole fight. It was unexpected. And frankly, it was a little satisfying to see Hugh Grant get punched in the face and thrown through a window.
And it was here when Bridget says something to Mark about him not being a good friend that I suspected Daniel may have pulled the old switcharoo in his story about Mark sleeping with his fiancee.
Brown: Oh yeah, that was obviously going to be the case the moment that plot point was brought up. It’s Hugh (REDACTED) Grant, man!
So, Bridget thinks Mark is being mean (she still thinks Daniel’s story about Mark is true), and Daniel tries winning Bridget over by being like, “Ehh, you’re good enough. Stay with me.” She, obviously, turns him down because Hugh Grant doesn’t deserve a damn thing. Or, Daniel doesn’t deserve it. You know what? Both are applicable.
After seeing her parents reconcile, they head to a Christmas party where Mark will be at. Only now does Bridget find out that Daniel slept with Mark’s fiancee (after Bridget’s mom makes ANOTHER dig at Mark’s former Japanese fiance by calling Japanese a “very cruel race.” Knock off the casual racism). Bridget is in a hurry for love, so she boots her dad from driving the car and decides to floor it IN THE SNOW. As a Minnesotan, have fun in a ditch, Jones family.
Froemming: I chuckled at that as well.
Well, Bridget gets to the party, only to find out that Mark has been promoted and will be taking off to New York, because in the movie world New York is the only city people leave their hometown for.
So we get a bizarre speech from Bridget.
Another note: CAN MARK EMOTE IN ANYWAY? He is almost as bad as Bella from “Twilight.” Maybe Mark is from Forks, Wash.?
But alas, he has a future in New York and heads off, though you know he will come back because that is the rule of a Rom-Com.
Brown: Mark was also engaged. But sure, a stuttering speech by a woman with no public speaking skills is enough for him to break that off and go to Bridget’s apartment as she’s about to vacation at France.
They stay behind and plan on making gross, gross love. So as Bridget changes into new underwear, Mark comes across the diary and sees the less-than-flattering things Bridget previously wrote about him.
Mark leaves in a huff and Bridget runs outside in nothing but a shirt and her underwear in the cold and snow. Look, love isn’t worth hypothermia, Ms. Jones.
Froemming: Wouldn’t have been an issue if she was a Minnesotan. I’ve seen that before, usually the walk of shame in the morning near a college campus.
And she can’t find Mark anywear. My guess at first was that he probably killed a hobo to release some tension, because he still gave me the creeps at this point. But no, he was buying her a new diary, because he has a heart of gold under all those serial killer vibes I guess.
And they kiss! She says good boys don’t kiss like that, and he responds “Oh yes, they (REDACTED) do.”
Mark just gave up a future in New York and his fiance for a drunk who can’t figure life out. Happy ending!
Brown: I was just glad to see Mark wrap Bridget up in his coat during the ending so she’s not freezing to death. See, the robotic serial killer can learn to love.
That’s applicable to both Mark and “Fatal Attraction”-idolizing Bridget.
And then, we see the diary once again, and instead of “The End,” they cross it out and write “The Beginning.”
Then, two movies later that we can maybe watch one day when I feel like hurting both Froemming and myself.
Froemming: Psh. I liked this movie. Now, let’s fall out of our cars and into recommendations!
WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
Brown: I would agree that this wasn’t a bad movie. There were parts I enjoyed. I guess the way I’ll put this is see it if you haven’t already. But one viewing is enough.
Froemming: I liked this movie. Maybe in part because that would enrage Brown to no end, but mostly because I enjoyed it. It had some funny parts and was a fun watch.
Here is what’s coming up for the next Joe-Down: