BRIDGET JONES: THE EDGE OF REASON (2004)
Starring Renee Zellweger, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Jim Broadbent, Gemma Jones, Jacinda Barrett, James Callis, Shirley Henderson, Sally Phillips, Neil Pearson, Jessica Stevenson, James Faulkner, Celia Imrie, Domenic McHale and Alba Fleming Furlan.
Screenplay by Andrew Davies and Helen Fielding and Richard Curtis and Adam Brooks.
Directed by Beeban Kidron.
Distributed by Universal Pictures. 108 minutes. Rated R.
It is always a pretty safe bet in the movies that a sequel will not be as good as the first of the series. Sadly, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason is further proof of this rule. Not that the second film is horrible, it is just a step backwards for the series. The original Bridget Jones’s Diary was a very good film that occasionally flirted with greatness. This second film is just fairly good, with occasional moments of pretty good.
It is a shame, because film is well cast and acted. It is co-written by some very talented people. It does have some funny moments. Yet, it never quite jells as well as fans would hope.
The biggest gaffe here is in the character of Bridget. Not that it is Zellweger’s fault – she still plays the role with a wonderful mixture of charm and vulnerability. Sadly, the material lets the actress and the character down.
The dilemma with this whole movie is that Bridget is happy. She has a glamour job. She’s in love with her dream guy. Unfortunately, what makes Bridget so lovable as a single woman also makes her insufferable as a girlfriend; she’s clingy, needy, jealous, obsessively unsure of herself and constantly taking her friends’ advice over her own.
Barrister Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) still seems an odd choice for Bridget – he’s so uptight and guarded that he seems the antithesis of Bridget’s open flightiness. Still, he seems to be doing everything in his power to make his relationship work, although with his withdrawn demeanor that tends to fly right over Bridget’s head. He strives to be the perfect boyfriend. In fact, all of the problems that he and Bridget have appear to be completely in her over-active imagination. And, frankly, Mark has the patience of a saint to put up with Bridget and her moods.
The bounding cad of an ex-boss/ex-lover Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) is a much more interesting character, even if he makes a worse boyfriend. Daniel is a suave, charming, unashamedly shallow man who only lives for his next conquest. You can understand why Bridget can’t help but fall for his rap, even though she knows it is wrong for her and it is a symbolic slap in the face to Mark.
Another problem is that the filmmakers seem to have forgotten what made Diary so enjoyable. The change in direction the movie has taken is a subtle shift, but it is a significant one. In the first film, Bridget was overcoming a barrage of humiliations; being a single woman in her thirties, going to a party that she thought was a costume bash which turned out not to be, dating a cad who was cheating on her, showing her knickers during her first big chance to be on television.
Bridget was forever trying survive these indignities with her pride intact, which she usually was able to do. Because of her never-say-die spunkiness Bridget spoke to the underdog in the audience, and we appreciated how she was able to move forward and better herself, eventually finding the perfect job and her ideal man.
In Edge of Reason, however, it seems that Bridget is only seen as an object of ridicule. The constant barrage of humiliation seems more mean-spirited than the first film, which is somewhat odd, because it was written by most of the same writers and based on the second novel of the series by novelist Helen Fielding. Instead of being a smart and funny career woman who was looking for love, but not defined by it, Bridget seems more desperate, more incompetent and less sympathetic.
In the opening sequence, Bridget is forced on assignment to sky dive for her TV show and she ends up landing in a pen surrounded by pigs and as she puts it, “excrement.” For the rest of the movie, that scene is figuratively replayed over and over. Jones falls off a roof into a shrubbery. She is thrown into a Thai jail because she did a friend a favor. She accuses a lesbian of having an affair with her boyfriend. She is forced to declare her love in front of a boardroom full of foreign dignitaries when the two could have easily left the room for a little privacy. In the most important moment of her life, when she feels she has to look her very best, she is soaked when she is splashed by passing cars. Not once, but twice.
The germ of a good movie is here and the acting is stunning – Zellweger, Firth and particularly Grant know these characters and love them and are able to bring them to vibrant life. (Okay, maybe using the word vibrant to describe Mark Darcy is a stretch, but that’s about his character, not Firth’s acting.) It is nice to revisit these people who we grew to care about so much in the original film three years ago. I just wish they were given more interesting, realistic things to do. (11/04)
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2005 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: March 19, 2005.