Five popular films that have aged very badly

When asked which boy Bridget was mad about, Fielding merely raised one eyebrow enigmatically
When asked which boy Bridget was mad about, Fielding merely raised one eyebrow enigmatically

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the film adaptation of Bridget Jones’s Diary, a film that saw great box-office success and triggered two sequels for being both witty and relatable to singletons.

But in the years since its release, the flick has also been lambasted for being sexist and fat phobic. And don’t get us started on its portrayal of journalism.

Bridget Jones’ Diary is by far not the only film that has failed to age gracefully. And If you have spent the majority of lockdown completing Netflix, then we’re sure you will have noticed other offenders.

If not, we’ve certainly done the homework:

You’ve Got Mail

It is supposed to be a cute nineties rom-com about two people connecting in a chatroom. But to a millennial audience reared on MTV’s Catfish, and warned about stranger danger, You’ve Got Mail seems unforgivably sinister.

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The plot is as follows: Tom Hank’s Joe Fox lies online to Meg Ryan’s Kathleen about his identity as her business rival, and uses nuggets of information that she reveals online to emotionally manipulate her into falling in love with him. Really? Upon Joe’s honesty at the end of the film, instead of being horrified, Kathleen cries tears of joy and they both live happily ever after on their bed of lies. No thanks, Tom Hanks.

Pretty Woman

Pretty Woman is the lovely story of a man falling in love with a prostitute and “freeing” her from the trappings of her old life – is what the film’s publicists might have said on its release.

But no, Pretty Woman is another manipulation story about a rude and monosyllabic man grooming a woman and forcing her to adapt to his rigid ideas about how she should behave. From choosing food for her at a restaurant, to forcing her to buy new clobber, Richard Gere’s Edward is insufferably controlling. And let’s not even go into the assumption that sex workers need to be rescued.

American Beauty

The disturbing aspects of this multi award winning film about a man’s mid-life crisis aren’t even hidden. Lester Burnham, who is unfortunately played by Kevin Spacey, is infatuated with one of his 16-year-old daughter’s friends, Angela. Viewers are forced to watch his sexual fantasies about this teenager with gritted teeth.

Sixteen Candles

The eighties coming of age film that launched Molly Ringwald’s career enjoys a cult following. But, one of the characters, Chinese foreign-exchange student, Long-Duk Dong is portrayed as a racist stereotype, critics have said, and a gong is even struck in every scene he enters. Meanwhile, one scene shows a character violating a drunk woman without her consent and so the film makes for an uncomfortable watch.

The Breakfast Club

Molly Ringwald wrote an article in the New Yorker addressing her discomfort about another coming of age film she starred in. In one scene, a character ducks under the table where her character Claire is sat and it is implied he touches under her skirt without her consent. In a post Me Too age, clearly this is a scene that should have been chopped.

With films like these on offer, it is clear that there is only one film that should still be enjoyed by all. Cats is available on Amazon Prime Video and YouTube.

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