"“Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad”"
What You Need To Know:
Despite its satirical approach, BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS reflects Evelyn Waugh’s traditional moral perspective. This positive worldview is spoiled by minor politically correct homosexual elements and other immoral behavior, including plenty of light foul language; scenes of cocaine use, drunkenness, and gambling; and, a casual view of marriage vows. Stephen Fry does a good job of adapting and directing Waugh’s story, though fans of the novel may miss some of the important colorful details of the novel.
(B, C, PC, Ho, LLL, V, S, N, AA, DD, MM) Light moral worldview with positive Christian content spoiled by minor politically correct homosexual elements and other immoral behavior; 13 light obscenities, one strong profanity and 12 light profanities; light violence includes car crash during race, explosion during war, and man sticks head in oven in implied suicide scene; implied fornication and homosexual references; upper male nudity and woman in nightgown; alcohol use and drunkenness; smoking and cocaine use; and, gambling, wild parties, gossip, lying, angry gossip columnist makes up lies about people he hates before committing suicide, another gossip columnist invents celebrities and stories, and protagonist buys off greedy husband.
Evelyn Waugh, the acclaimed English satirist of such novels as BRIDESHEAD REVISITED and THE LOVED ONE, became a Roman Catholic Christian early in his career, after he wrote his classic work VILE BODIES, published in 1930. Although in one interview he reports that he wrote VILE BODIES when he was still an atheist, all of his works reflect a traditional moral perspective, though seen with the eye of a keen satirist. They also contain silly characters, wry dialogue, and piercing wit that’s irreverent without being tasteless. His novels aren’t usually covertly Christian, but he once said that Helene, one of his most overtly Christian novels, is his favorite. Somewhat of a curmudgeon, he was once asked how he could still behave so badly. He reportedly replied, “You have no idea how much nastier I would be if I was not a Catholic. Without supernatural aid I would hardly be a human being.”
Actor Stephen Fry has adapted VILE BODIES for the big screen, with the title BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS. Although Fry has turned one of the minor characters into a homosexual, he apparently has kept the meat of Waugh’s novel, though without some of the important colorful details of the original novel.
BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS opens with a colorful splash, at a somewhat decadent party among the young upper class in the early 1930s, filled with the raucous strains of Benny Goodman’s “Sing Sing Sing.” The story focuses on a tight-knit group of the “Bright Young People” among the upper classes, who seem not to have a care in the world. Their lives consist mostly of going to wild parties. Taking center stage is a struggling writer among the group, Adam Fenwick-Simes, who is trying to earn enough money to marry his girlfriend Nina. His finances, however, begin taking a roller coaster ride. He alternately tells Nina that they can now get married, then breaks off the marriage plans when misfortune befalls him. Eventually, Adam realizes the emptiness of the group’s lifestyle. War breaks out with Germany, and he and Nina discover that love matters more than money and instant gratification. Adam buys off Nina’s snobbish husband, however.
Waugh’s moral perspective shines through this movie, even though it pokes fun at the wealthy, including Christian leaders who hobnob with the elite. Adam’s moral epiphany at the end of the movie, for example, echoes a condemnation of the sinful young people and the sinful elite delivered by a pompous female Christian evangelist at one of the elite’s more dignified affairs. One of the funniest lines comes when the evangelist mentions the wild young crowd’s title, “Bright Young People.” “Two out of three ain’t bad,” she cries out. It is interesting to note that the snobbish older people running that party quickly shut the evangelist up.
BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS contains some sexual immorality and plenty of light foul language. The movie also contains scenes of cocaine use, drunkenness, gambling, and other strong immoral behavior. Some of the immorality is not implicitly rebuked. Moral moviegoers, therefore, should apply extreme caution.