13 April 2002 | Spleen
It's not just charming - I insist it's charming
With certain bad movies - "Plan 9 from Outer Space" is a famous extreme example - you start to wonder if there's something wrong with people who don't realise that they're bad. I'm not saying that if someone LIKES "Plan 9" then his or her brain probably needs to be repaired; the suspicious, unhealthy thing is not LIKING the film, but being of the opinion that it's good. (Many people have a soft spot for it precisely BECAUSE they realise how bad it is. In this way it differs from something like "Timecode", where either liking the film OR having a high opinion of it is something to be embarrassed about.) And something similar applies to, say, "Citizen Kane". Disliking it makes sense; thinking it's a bad film does not.
But there's another kind of film that tempts me to be even more presumptuous. "Dumbo" is the best example I can think of at the moment. I can see why one might (mistakenly) have a low opinion of "Dumbo": some of the footage IS mere padding, the triumph at the end is too swift, the charge has been laid (falsely, but not ludicrously) that the crows are racist caricatures ... and so forth. But surely even the people who think "Dumbo" is a bad film must still manage to like it. If they don't, THEN I'm suspicious.
I feel this way, to a greater or lesser degree, about a number of light comedies, and this is one of them. I can't honestly say that I revere or adore "Bridget Jones's Diary" (N.B.: I'm male), but all the same, I can't help thinking that people who take an active dislike to it have something wrong with them. This applies not just to the film as a whole but to Bridget Jones, the central character, in particular. What has she done to merit dislike? She's beautiful (as beautiful as Renée Zellweger has ever been on screen), honest and kind-hearted. The diary she keeps certainly reveals her many flaws, but none is particularly pronounced, most are purely negative and anyway, she shares them all with the rest of us - so don't pretend you're not like this, too.
This is an amiable, well-written and fresh romantic comedy with, for ONCE, an attractive female protagonist. It's far from being the greatest film ever made and there may be grounds for attacking it which I haven't touched upon (I suppose there always are), and so all in all I'll understand your not thinking as much of it as I do, but, dammit, you'd better LIKE it.