Bridget Jones’s Baby

Posted on September 15, 2016 at 5:15 pm

Copyright Working Title 2016
Copyright Working Title 2016
I really don’t like saying this. But Bridget Jones has the same problem as Adam Sandler and the rest of those Apatow-ish man-boys. They haven’t figured out that cluelessness and mistakes that are endearing in a 20-something are annoying and then just exhausting when they get older. Bridget, again played by Renee Zellweger though without the yo-yo weight gain, says in this film that she has to stop making the same mistakes and start making new ones. Well, she’s right. But it’s pretty much the same mistakes, professional and romantic disaster, though with higher stakes this time. The filmmakers, director Sharon Maguire (the original Bridget Jones film) and Helen Fielding (creator of the character and co-screenwriter) rely on a level of affection for the characters we first met onscreen 15 years ago and most recently saw 12 years ago, but make no effort to re-introduce them to those of us who, like Bridget, were a lot younger then, or introduce then those who are too young to have seen them.

Bridget, finally at her goal weight and in a good job producing television news, has still not made things work with Mr. Darcy (Colin Firth), who is married to someone else, someone frightfully capable and intelligent. Bridget decides, with some encouragement, to go off and have some carefree sex with a random guy to perk up her spirits, so she goes “glamping” at a music festival something between Burning Man, Woodstock, and Canyon Ranch. After a meet cute than involves her falling into a mud puddle, she does have a wild night of love with a very handsome American named Jack, played by Dr. McDreamy himself, Patrick Dempsey, whose performance would have been a lot better if his character had, well, any characteristics other than being not Mark Darcy in every way.

A few days later, Bridget and Darcy find themselves at the same party and he tells her he is getting divorced. Next thing you know, she is as they say in the UK, up the spout, and has no idea, as they say in the US, who’s the daddy. If you think this is wildly hilarious, wait until she brings them both to childbirth preparation class and they are mistaken for a gay couple. What a knee-slapper! And this comes after the excruciating farce of keeping them from finding out they are both possible fathers (and that she slept with both of them) and the excruciating farce of telling them. The only thing that works in this mess is Emma Thompson at her very best as the obstetrician. Apparently she wrote her own dialog as she is listed as co-screenwriter, and her scenes have a wit and crackle that is sorely missing from the rest of the film.

Parents should know that this film includes very raunchy humor with explicit sexual references and situations and comic nudity, theme of question of paternity, very strong language used by adults and children, and alcohol.

Family discussion: How has Bridget changed since the first film? Is she making the same mistakes or new ones?

If you like this, try: the earlier Bridget Jones films, “and Baby Mama” and the “Catastrophe” series on Amazon

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Based on a book Comedy Romance Series/Sequel

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Posted on June 28, 2011 at 10:19 pm

I feel like Goldilocks.  It’s not as good as the first one, but it’s not as awful as the second one.  So, if that doesn’t make it just right, at least it makes it better than the second one and with some summer movie chases, fights, and explosions that make it popcorn-worthy.

It begins with a prologue that cheekily re-imagines the space race of the 1960’s as a secret mission to learn more about a mysterious rocket that crashed on the dark side of the moon in the late 1950’s.  Archival footage of Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, and newsman Walter Cronkite is used to make it appear that in the brief moments our first moon landing was not visible from earth, the astronauts were exploring a cavernous machine.  Even the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident is tied into cold war-ear secrets about what was found on the moon.

Then, we are in present day where Sam (Shia LeBeouf) returns as Sam Witwicky.  Still in high school in the first movie, he is now out of college and looking for a job in Washington D.C.  It’s tough these days, especially when you’re not allowed to put “saved the world — twice” on your resume for reasons of national security.  Sam also has a new girlfriend named Carly (model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley).  The departure of Megan Fox is explained in a few short lines.  No one seems to miss her.

Sam meets Carly’s boss Dylan (Patrick Dempsey), a fabulously wealthy but very arrogant businessman (think Dr. McSleazy) and tries not to be jealous, even after Dylan gives Carly a $200,000 Mercedes.  But, you know, blah blah and the bad robot decepticons are back, blah blah the head of National Security (Frances McDormand) tries to keep Sam away from his friends the autobots, and blah blah all something will do something if Sam doesn’t get that tractor beam out of commission, I mean knock out that pillar that has “the ability to reshape the universe” and build a bridge to another world (didn’t we just see that in “Thor?).

And then the humans fight each other and the robots and the robots fight each other and the humans.  In 3D.  Various characters turn out to be not what we thought.  There are surprise guest cameos.   And at two and a half hours it goes on much too long (believe me, they could have lost an hour and had a nice, brisk evening at the movies).     McDormand, Ken Jeong (stuck with an embarrassing attempt at homophobic humor, literally with his pants down), and John Malcovich are completely wasted.  Huntington-Whiteley is better at posing than acting — but she’s got legs and knows how to use them.  And we once again do not get enough of John Duhamel.  John Turturro wore out his welcome well before the first one ended but Alan Tudyk makes the role of his aide into something enjoyably off-kilter.  It’s too loud, it’s too long, some of the battles are hard to follow, the action is entertaining and so is the but relief that it isn’t as awful as the last one.

(more…)

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3D Action/Adventure Science-Fiction Series/Sequel Superhero

Made of Honor

Posted on September 16, 2008 at 8:00 am

“Made of Honor” has gloss and bounce and some of the core elements of a mainstream chick flick/date movie. Sexiest Man Alive runner-up in lead role? Yep, Dr. McDreamy himself. I’ve been a Patrick Dempsey fan since he did the African anteater dance in Can’t Buy Me Love. Does he get his comeuppance? In a romantic comedy, it’s always a good thing if someone gets a comeuppance. Yes, that’s here, too. And much of the movie concerns wedding plans, usually a reliable plot line. Consistent with wedding custom, it has something old (boy meets girl, boy loses girl…), something new (we’ll get back to that later), something borrowed (the plots of “The Wedding Planner,” “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” half a dozen “Friends” episodes featuring Ross and Rachel, etc. etc.), and something blue (some of the humor pushes the PG-13 limits to the edge). But it leaves out a few other essentials.

Ten years after college, Tom still sleeps with as many beautiful women as possible, not-so-gently informing each of them that he has “rules” — no one gets him two nights in a row, no one gets to visit his apartment, no one meets his family, etc. etc. The one constant in his life is his weekly time with college pal Hannah (Michelle Monaghan of “Gone Baby Gone”), his best friend. When she returns from a six-week business trip to Scotland engaged to a bonny broth of a Mr. Right (think the Laird of Right), Tom suddenly realizes that it is Hannah he truly loves. She wants him to be her Maid of Honor and he accepts because he thinks it will help him stop the wedding and prove to Hannah that he’s the one.

Despite Dempsey’s charm and charisma, the character he plays is hard to root for, more a male fantasy than a female one. The screenwriters and director seem mystified by women and sometimes even downright misogynistic, never a good thing in a chick flick. Women all take one look at tom and sigh, endlessly willing to do anything from write their phone numbers on Starbucks coffee cups to jump into (or back into) bed with him, one even yelling “Service me!” Three different times, the movie makes fun of an elderly lady who mistakes a sex toy (glow in the dark!) for a necklace. Not funny even once. Tom is immature and self-centered. He has no job, no interest in anything but hanging out with his basketball-playing buddies, having sex with many different girls, and his weekly date with Hannah, which is primarily about making him feel good. Even when she gets engaged, it never occurs to him to think about what would make her happy. The movie avoids the usual formula of making the designated loser in the marriage sweepstakes obviously wrong for Hannah but forgets to substitute some other reason to root for Tom. As happens too often these days, the movie relies on vulgarity instead of wit, insults instead of banter, and recycled ideas instead of anything fresh. It is so sloppy it does not know the difference between a blog and a post or between a museum conservator and a curator and has homophobic (literally) locker-room humor that would be considered childish by 14-year-olds. When the highlights of the movie are seeing Dempsey juggle china and a wedding video featuring Elizabeth Hasselbeck, you know the script is a couple of bridesmaids short of a wedding party.

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Comedy Romance

Sweet Home Alabama

Posted on December 13, 2002 at 5:18 am

B-
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some language and sexual references
Profanity: Some mild language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking as a sign of free-spiritedness, character gets drunk and gets sick
Violence/ Scariness: None
Diversity Issues: Positive gay characters
Date Released to Theaters: 2002
Date Released to DVD: 2002
Amazon.com ASIN: B00007E2F5

It’s official. Reese Witherspoon is the new Meg Ryan.

That means Witherspoon has the charm, sparkle, and impeccable comic timing to keep an entire movie afloat and make it look effortless. She makes watching it seem effortless, too. That’s a good thing, because it takes every bit of her talent and all-around adorability to keep it aloft, considering the considerable weight of its uncertain script. Without her, even the enticing premise and an exceptionally able supporting cast would sink under the weight of a plot that somehow manages to be both predictable and disjointed (I’d bet a bucket of popcorn that there was some serious recutting along the way).

Witherspoon plays Melanie Carmichael, a fashion designer just breaking through to the big time with her first solo show. Not only is it a huge success, but she also gets a swooningly romantic marriage proposal from a gorgeous, thoughtful, supportive man who adores her – and who happens to be the son of the mayor of New York (Candice Bergen).

It’s the 21st century Cinderella dream come true, except for one hitch — literally. Way back when she was just Melanie Cooter of Pigeon Creek, Alabama, she got herself hitched to her childhood sweetheart, and now she needs to get herself unhitched so that she can be free to marry Prince Charming.

So, she goes back home for the first time in seven years, and she finds out that you can take the girl out of Pigeon Creek, but you can’t take Pigeon Creek out of the girl. Her accent comes back, and, more disconcertingly, so do some of her feelings for her husband, Jake (Josh Lucas).

The movie spends too much time reuniting Melanie with people from her past. There’s a lot of “Melanie? Is that you, girl?” It also spends much too much time introducing us to all kinds of adorable cracker stereotypes without much payoff. It wastes time on a tired plot twist about Melanie’s exaggeration of her family’s social standing that even the movie’s characters seem bored with. But Witherspoon is such an unquenchably winning presence and such a fine actress that I defy anyone to watch it without smiling.

A terrific soundtrack also helps, with a cover of the irresistible title tune and delicious songs by country greats. Lucas and Dempsey are both dreamy enough that even movie-savvy viewers may find it hard to pick the winner. Director Andy Tennant (“Ever After”) delivers a romantic comedy that should be able to hold a strong position at the box office until the next Julia Roberts movie comes along.

Parents should know that the movie has brief strong language, gay characters (one out, one closeted) who are positively portrayed, and references to an out of wedlock teen pregnancy. Melanie gets drunk (and gets sick). Drinking, vandalism and minor crimes are portrayed as evidence of a free spirit.

Families who see this movie should talk about why people are tempted to lie about their past, and how they would respond if they found out someone they cared about had lied to them. What does Melanie mean when she says “I figured if I was pointing at you, no one would see through me.” What didn’t she want them to see? What is Melanie likely to do next?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy, “The Runaway Bride” and “Never Been Kissed.” They should also check out the wonderful classic with a similar plot, “I Know Where I’m Going.”

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