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Isn’t it time we made a better new romcom than Bridget Jones?

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Isn’t it time we made a better new romcom than Bridget Jones?

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It’s a truth universally acknowledged that Bridget Jones is the best romantic comedy ever made – and it swims in a sea of garbage (Picture: REX/ Shutterstock)

If I am hungover, I watch Bridget Jones. Just a bit tired? Bridget Jones. Oh, is that the pitter patter of rain drops? I will probably watch Bridget Jones. Is it a Sunday? Stick. It. On.

I have no shame in admitting I am a serial Bridget binger, and I know the films almost by heart.

Whenever life forces me to say the word, ‘Go,’ I automatically add, ‘Go, go, go, GO!’ like Bridget’s TV producer does when he tells her to shimmy down a fireman’s pole, before promptly making her climb back up.

Unsurprisingly then, the news that a fourth film is on its way is an extremely welcome addition to the scant three-film collection. I need some new material.

It’s dropping on Valentine’s Day 2025, and I am for the first time ever looking forward to this nauseating celebration.

But isn’t it time someone made a better romantic comedy than Bridget Jones? It seems she’s swooping in yet again to save this mushy, trope-infested, witless genre.

Helen Fielding first wrote her column as the fictional Bridget in The Independent back in the 1990s, and the country fell in love with her. Even more so when she was imagined in film, first in Bridget Jones’ Diary, (2001) then Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004) and lastly Bridget Jones’ Baby (2016).

Colin Firth and Hugh Grant put in excellent performances, but Bridget always steals the show (Picture: Jason Bell/Universal/Studio Canal/Miramax/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock)
She is all of us (Picture: Universal/Everett/REX/Shutterstock)

Renee Zellweger and Hugh Grant are reuniting in the new installment – Mad About the Boy – but get your tissues at the ready lasses, because Colin Firth will not be involved. Weep.

But not to worry – the star of the show is Bridget, who could only ever be portrayed by genius American Renee, who has ‘distressed English woman’ down to a fine art.

The 30-something quick-witted singleton, with a clumsy gait and a self-deprecating, charming manner is a hallmark of British comedy. Love-obsessed Bridget – whose greatest fear is dying alone in her London apartment eventually being eaten by Alsatians – is all of us.

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Renée Zellweger’s expertly-delivered one-liners make the film – not the men she pines after, nor that all-important final scene (although Firth and Grant do exceptional jobs of bringing repressed Mark Darcy and slimy womaniser Daniel Cleaver to life). 

But I wouldn’t rely on Bridget Jones for my romcom injection so much if there were any recent ones that could even begin to compete with its brilliance.

As a recovering obsessive, I heard myself say, ‘I’m not really into romcoms anymore,’ out loud the other day, while trying to decide on a film.

That’s not true: I love good ones. But I’ve seen all the decent films 100 times. Those released in the last decade are a load of sugar-sweet, pastel-coloured trash.

When was the last time a romcom with timeless-classic potential graced our screens? I’m talking about films for adults: ones you can confidently call ‘brilliant’ in a room full of thinking, judging, rational grown-ups, and they will probably agree.

Where are all the good romcoms? (Picture: Laurie Sparham/Universal/Studio Canal/Miramax/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock)
Bridget Jones is back to save the genre once again with a fourth installment (Picture: Alex Bailey/Miramax/Universal/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock)

Let’s take the mainstream classics that still shine bright above the recent offerings: When Harry Met Sally, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually, Notting Hill, My Best Friend’s Wedding. All but When Harry Met Sally and My Best Friend’s Wedding were directed by Richard Curtis. And they were all released around the turn of the millennium – now almost a quarter of a century ago.

Like Bridget Jones, these were triumphs because they are reasonably good films – not guilty pleasures – with well-rounded characters, brilliant plotlines, and hilarious dialogue. Importantly, they don’t insult the intelligence of the audience, but they are admirably astute, thoughtful films about what it is to love and be human.

Mean Girls and Clueless are also genius. But their ironic undertones tip both films into being parodies of the genre, rather than straight-up romantic comedies. I’m sorry, but they don’t count.

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Fast forward 10 years, and Curtis released About Time, which hits much of the classic romcom criteria while teetering on the edge of unbelievable with its magical concept – that Domhnall Gleeson’s character can go back in time. But this is justified by the deeper message of the film: to live every day like it’s your last chance. It’s good. That’s one…

The Proposal, starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds, was hilarious. But it doesn’t have the broad appeal of Bridget Jones’ mission to find a man (we can be feminists and still want to find a partner, people.)

Well have more of this please… (Picture: REX/Shutterstock)
Who wants more Bridget? Me! (Picture: Miramax/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock)

Wild Child was funny, but Emma Roberts’ Prince Charming has the personality of a cardboard cutout, and the American interpretation of the UK was interesting. Chalet Girl was fun, I guess – for a romantic comedy whose appeal rested on its unique setting of the Alps. Apart from that, it seemed to do nothing more than glorify a less-than-average posh boy. Yawn.

These are adolescent interpretations of the genre, not creations anyone, in all honesty, can call ‘brilliant films’.

Bridesmaids was about as close as we got to Bridget Jones-standard comedy, as Kristen Wig is a comic superhero, and Maya Rudolph’s Lillian had a poo in the street. But none of these characters had the same lovable depth as Bridget, and so nothing makes me want to spend time with them like I do her.

Maid of Honour was cute, but forgettable.

He’s Just Not That Into You – hyped to be the romcom of a generation – was less funny, more damaging. I came away thinking all women are desperate freaks and men will ultimately determine their future happiness.

Valentine’s Day… which one was that again? Nope, I’m not sure either.

Aside from these damp squibs, the rest aren’t even slightly memorable. Please correct me if I’ve missed a Bridget-shaped diamond in this overwhelming sea of mediocrity.

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I had to laugh when I saw that there was a film called Tall Girl, and it was about – wait for it – a tall girl. They even made a Tall Girl 2. The premises of romcoms are getting wilder and wilder. 

Apart from Bridget, it seems no one is saving us from this tragic fate.

And so Bridget Jones swoops in to save a depressingly lacklustre genre once more. 

Until it graces our screens again, I am thirsty for a good romcom and ‘Quite frankly, Daniel,’ I’d rather watch Bridget Jones for the 1,0000 time than take a sip of the off-brand drinks on offer.

I’m desperate to be proud of the genre, but just like Daniel Cleaver, it keeps falling short time and time again. As Bridget would say, ‘That’s not good enough for me…’

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