St. Trinian’s 2: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold
After the surprising success of the first St. Trinian’s reboot in 2007, a sequel was always a risky proposition: it would either surpass the original and cement the franchise as a bona fide modern classic or sully the occasional chuckles of the original and sink the whole thing. We’d like to hope that that seldom-seen beast – the British comedy – isn’t quite dead at the box offices, with only rare examples like Shaun of the Dead hitting the big time. Can St. Trinian’s 2: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold reach the heights of its 1950’s predecessors?
The Heights of Everett
As per the last film – and Ronald Searle’s original comic strip – St. Trinian’s is a rather unorthodox school where headmistress Ms. Fritton encourages self-expression in her bunch of unruly girls. The modern update sees the girls split up into various stereotype-friendly sub-groups including emos, posh lasses, geeks and eco warriors. This time around, the girls must put their respective differences – and fashion senses – aside in order to battle the anti-feminist machinations of Lord Pomfrey (a scenery-chewing David Tennant), as he and the girls go toe-to-toe to find a pair of rings that will lead the way to a priceless treasure.
There’s a lot – potentially, at any rate – you want to like about St. Trinian’s 2. There’s the aforementioned hope that the knockabout British comedy could once again become a staple at cinemas, as well as the fact it’s a tried and tested British classic. But sadly, it turns out St. Trinian’s 2 is a bit too much of a mixed bag to be a total success. What’s good about it doesn’t quite make up for what’s bad, and what’s bad drags the good down pretty quickly and effectively. Starting with the positive: Rupert Everett in drag as the Parker-Bowles-a-like Ms. Fritton instantly steals any scene she’s in, even when acting opposite Colin Firth’s disgraced politician Geoffrey Thwaites, trying his hardest to play against Everett’s rampant enthusiasm. There’s also a couple of witty scenes involving Shakespeare and some neat pop-culture references, though overall the script would have been better served had the ludicrous plot been neatened and more jokes inserted.
The girls themselves all put in spirited performances too, and directors Oliver Parker and Barnaby Thompson (returning from the first film) again manage to straddle the line between feisty and totally perverted (these are girls running around in school uniforms, after all). But their Girl Power schtick is dated and, in all honesty, unconvincing. There was an opportunity here to really broaden the appeal of St Trinian’s and create a far more family-friendly movie; instead, the only demographic likely to be impressed are pre-pubescent tomboys revelling in the carnage. It’s not any worse than the first film, but neither is it any better, and by not learning from previous mistakes, Parker and Thompson may have ensured another twenty-year gap until the franchise gets rebooted again.