||On Location Gallery
Self’s system for rating the reviews
||= Bloody brilliant!|
||= v. good|
||= Jellyfisher or Fuckwit, depending on reviewer's gender|
|DC = Daniel Cleaver = Hugh Grant = Fuckwit|
|MD = Mark Darcy/Mr Darcy amalgam = Colin Firth = Mmmmm|
- 2 of 5 stars
(by Caroline Westbrook, Oct 2004)
If you were to list the most likely sequels ever, this one would surely come just after Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets and Batman Returns. After all, the movie adaptation of Bridget Jones’s Diary was a huge hit with both public and (surprised) critics alike, while the source material already existed in the shape of Helen Fielding’s follow-up book. But that doesn’t mean we’re looking at a surefire success—sadly, Bridget’s latest big-screen adventures represent more of a retread than any kind of progression.
While there’s still some amusement to be had from our hapless heroine’s quirky approach to life, the film feels light on plot and often struggles to fill its near two-hour running time, defaulting to schmaltz mode when something, dare we suggest it, funny would have worked so much better. Nowhere is this more apparent than during the first half, when Bridget, having settled into a life of cosy coupledom with Mark Darcy (Firth), becomes convinced he’s up to no good behind her back, her insecurities all but killing their perfect relationship. Which is all very well, but it’s dragged out to such an extent as to become frustrating to watch.
Things pick up considerably once Grant returns as Bridget’s sleazy ex—now working as a TV reporter for a trashy travel show—while the heroine herself, through a series of contrivances, winds up in a Thai prison and is forced to rethink her actions while behind bars.
Much of the humour is confined to a handful of set-pieces and keeps the same showy, slapstick mood established in the first movie—so we have Bridget sky-diving out of a plane into a pigsty, Bridget teaching a cell-load of Thai convicts to sing Madonna songs and, in one admittedly hilarious sequence, Bridget realising that skiing isn’t nearly as easy as it looks.
Zellweger, who has settled comfortably into the role, shines here, relishing the chance to show off her comic talents, while Grant once again proves he’s much more fun to watch when playing a bad guy. Firth, however, is wasted—Mark Darcy is so dull that it’s almost a relief when their relationship starts to unravel—while other returning cast members, including Sally Phillips, Shirley Henderson and Jim Broadbent, are given so little to do that you wonder why they bothered coming back at all.
We’re not talking total washout, though. It’s a serviceable sequel which will please the less demanding crowd. Plus, to the film’s credit, it does look better than its predecessor, even if this should come as no surprise given that director Beeban Kidron has more of a track record than Diary’s Sharon Maguire. Kidron really makes the most of her locations, interspersing the action, for example, with beautifully shot views of London and Thailand that help liven things up considerably. But beyond that, Edge Of Reason’s overwhelming filmmaking-by-numbers feel rankles, with Kidron wheeling out warmed-over versions of jokes from the first pic (there’s even a fight sequence between Firth and Grant, would you believe) and resorting to standard-issue rom-com clichés and radio-friendly pop tunes to plug the gaps.
Perhaps if it had relied more on the book than the first movie, things might have been different; the sequence in the novel in which Bridget interviews Colin Firth, for example, would have made for very interesting viewing. As it stands, it’s little more than a hit-and-miss attempt to replay its predecessor’s cinematic triumphs.
Any good? It may be well-acted and occasionally very funny—largely thanks to Zellweger and Grant’s efforts— but for the most part, Edge Of Reason is as saggy and well-worn as Bridget’s big knickers.
Herald - 2 of 5 stars
(by Demetrios Matheou, Nov 7, 2004)
Some people can never change, Bridget Jones being one of them. She’s always likely to be size 14, always likely to want to squeeze herself into the most inappropriate and unappealing mini-skirts, always likely to have terrible judgement and a knack for buffoonery. Although she starts the sequel to Bridget Jones’s Diary in a seemingly secure relationship with Mark Darcy, you can sense the single girl just fighting to ruin her own happiness.
And so she does. And, just as Bridget is the same old disaster area, so this film is a shameless, cynically unoriginal retread, a join-the-dots facsimile, that might drive many towards Bridget’s favourite comforters— calories and nicotine—in bored annoyance.
The principle dynamic, again, is that triangular one between Bridget (Renée Zellweger), Darcy (Colin Firth) and the caddish Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant). “He’s given up being snooty and I’ve given up smoking,” is how Bridget describes the strides she has made with her decent (if a little dull) lawyer Mark, before inexplicably embarking on a torrid road of paranoia and rash supposition that soon alienates her beau. As soon as these two fall out, Cleaver re-emerges, as cheeky and confident as ever, and just as keen to sample Bridget’s taste in bomb- shelter underwear. When the pair are asked to co-host a travel show in Thailand, Cleaver sees his chance, and the sorely tempted Bridget has to assess her priorities.
The acting is again top-notch, and perhaps the single reason for seeing the film. Zellweger so inhabits Bridget that it’s hard to fathom the fuss that was made about her original casting. This time around she seems bigger, even more uncomfortable, and even more defiant in her discomfort, all of which works well for the character. Firth is as darcy (well, isn’t it about time it became an adjective?) as he ever was. And Grant, as the cheeky, dirty and irrepressibly rude Cleaver, raises the stakes whenever he’s on screen; as last time, he is a hoot.
But Cleaver also touches on a chief problem of the film, which is one of sympathy. At one point he deadpans to Bridget: “You made me laugh—at you, not with you.” And here’s the thing: first time around, the fact that Bridget is actually quite horrific was redeemed by her down-to-earth honesty, the fact that she wouldn’t take any bullshit, the fact that we could, actually, laugh both with and at her. This time, it is incredibly hard to imagine why Darcy or Cleaver or anyone would want her. Bridget’s chief source of vulnerability was always her single status: the fact that she so stupidly jeopardises her relationship, then, is the moment we stop caring; and Bridget, despite all of Zellweger’s zest, is left seeming nothing more than a silly woman, whose waddle is an expression not of independence, but a rather dim vanity.
It doesn’t help that everything is repeated: there is another fight between Darcy and Cleaver; more ill-fated news assignments; and more emergency chats with her eccentric chums. Although there is a different director at the helm (Beeban Kidron replacing Sharon Maguire), the writing credits also remain the same: Helen Fielding (after her book), Richard Curtis and Andrew Davies. None of these writers specialises in fresh starts: Curtis has made the same film over and again since Four Weddings And A Funeral, Davies rarely climbs out of the cosy corset of period adaptation, and Fielding has dutifully kept her famous creation ticking over. Perhaps it was too much to expect anything new.
|Scotland on Sunday
(by Alan Hunter, Nov 7, 2004)
British cinema needs every hit it can get, so making a Bridget Jones sequel requires no justification. Who wouldn’t want another helping of Renée Zellweger and her great big sensible pants? The surprise with The Edge of Reason is just how laboured and mechanical it all feels. It’s like meeting people on holiday and having a great time together. Back home, you decide to renew the friendship and spend an awkward evening discovering that you have nothing to say to each other. The moment has passed. The fun has departed. The Edge of Reason comes dangerously close to that feeling—so much so it almost risks us falling out of love with the whole phenomenon.
The problem with the film is the absence of a substantial story. Bridget found her Prince Charming in snooty human rights lawyer Mark Darcy (Colin Firth). Her dream came true. Her insecurities were laid to rest. Now all she has to worry about is the happy ever after bit. That’s where the sequel tries to find a semblance of a plot. There is no discernible dramatic conflict in Bridget being contented so the film has to contrive a way to undermine that and let her old neuroses bubble back to the surface.
There is no progression or novelty, just a fairly naked attempt to duplicate the original in content and structure. When the story starts, Bridget is blissfully happy with Mark. They even sport matching Christmas jumpers. Her wilderness years are over and the prospect of marriage and a family are already creeping into her thoughts. Of course she is jealous and possessive. She even watches Mark as he sleeps.
His female friends are all considered deadly rivals. It’s only a matter of time before she goes and spoils it all with an act of self-destructive petulance or a complete misreading of a perfectly innocent situation. Help is also at hand with the reintroduction of the caddish Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant), who has now become a globetrotting television presenter and would just love to explore Bridget’s underwear once again.
Proceeding from misunderstanding to public humiliation and instant regret, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason feels like a string of sitcom sketches complete with fairly predictable punchlines. Watch Bridget make a fool of herself on the ski slopes; laugh as Bridget sky dives into a pile of pig manure; chortle as she is incarcerated in a Thai jail and leads her fellow inmates in a chorus of Madonna’s ‘Like A Virgin’.
The film does everything it can to repeat the success of the original, reintroducing Bridget’s best pals—but failing to give them anything to do; reigniting the two-fisted rivalry between Mark and Daniel and setting it all to an intrusive soundtrack of wall-to-wall pop standards. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then this is an exceptionally sincere film. The first time around it was charming and funny and you were more than willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. Here the laughs are much less frequent and it feels stale.
Things do improve tremendously, however, every time that Hugh Grant appears. In his Four Weddings and A Funeral period, he was considered the closest we might have to a polished light comedian in the manner of David Niven or Cary Grant. In Bridget Jones, he is closer to the roguish rascals and seedy bounders of Terry-Thomas or Leslie Phillips. The great Mae West used to claim that when she was good, she was very good, but when she was bad she was even better.
Grant has obviously taken her philosophy to heart. He makes the character so irresistible that you almost pity Bridget her infatuation with the reliable, emotionally repressed dullard Darcy. Grant has a rare ability to make even the flimsiest of dialogue appear fresh and witty, and almost every line feels spontaneous. He obviously can’t ad-lib an entire role, but it often feels that way.
Having dutifully added the extra pounds and British accent required for playing Bridget, Zellweger is as game and likeable as ever, but the character’s annoying tendency towards self-pity almost defeats her best efforts. Bridget has such a talent for messing up even the most straightforward relationship that she risks becoming irritating.
Since the film is a virtual rehash of the original, it’s hardly breaking a confidence to reveal that it builds towards another happy ending. The knowledge that such an event is inevitable merely makes the The Edge of Reason seem longer than it actually is as you wait for everything to fall into place.
The film is bright and colourful, although the lead actors are quite harshly photographed and Firth in particular appears to have aged terribly in the mere three years since the original. Approached as little more than a piece of escapist fluff, Bridget Jones is painless, amusing and a clear crowd-pleaser. It will give a great deal of pleasure to a great many people and British cinema does need all the hits it can get. I just wish that I could have liked it more.
|Shadows on the Wall - 2
of 5 stars
(by Rich Cline, Sept 30, 2004)
There's deliriously funny comedy and marvellous performances within this sequel, but the filmmakers seem to have missed the point of the first film's success completely, concentrating on all the unlikeable elements, leaving us annoyed and apathetic in the process.
TV journalist Bridget (Zellweger) is happy with gorgeous lawyer boyfriend Mark (Firth), but her insecurities make every day a drama of embarrassment and desperation. And it gets worse when Mark starts spending rather a lot of time with a lovely colleague (Barrett). Then Bridget's ex (Grant) reappears, and she has to go off to Thailand with him for work, where things quickly get even worse for our heroine.
Bridget's deep-seated insecurity is still the centre of the story, but while the first film used it to make her endearingly gawky, this one merely uses to embarrass her; she's pathologically tactless, clumsy and obsessive. It's a fundamental sequel mistake, emphasising the wrong side of the main character's personality. And even her physicality is inappropriate—Bridget looked full-figured yet lovely in the first film, but here she's lumpy and awkward. It's impossible for us to like her now, and we don't believe Mark's undying love.
That said, Zellweger plays Bridget with flashes of spark and wit that keep us smiling. Firth is charming and intriguing, Grant has all the funniest lines, and the best sequence belongs to them both: the rematch bout! Phillips' is hilarious as Bridget's best pal, and gets more to do this time, travelling to Thailand with Bridget for adventures of her own. Although this segment devolves into one of the most appalling sequences in cinema all year (it involves a Thai prison and a Madonna song).
Basically the filmmakers lost touch with the real world that made the original film so enjoyable. The strong song score alternates between witty and obvious. The diary framework is only used sporadically. And what's left are mere glimpses of sharp insight, clever writing and astute acting. There's just no way the filmmakers can sell the emotional conclusion after making their central character a slapstick laughing stock.
(by Kirk Honeycutt, Nov 5, 2004)
Bottom line: The characters are still great, but a pitiful story shows too much strain.
In this sequel to the successful 2001 single-girl-in-the-city comedy "Bridget Jones's Diary," more is less. "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason" begins by repeating many gags from the previous film. Only now they feel lame and routine. Then, in the strain to explore new territory, the film pushes into areas that that don't fit comfortably into the lightly comic world of Bridget Jones.
Reteaming Renee Zellweger with her two leading men from the previous film, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant, may hamper dramatic developments but makes boxoffice sense. Despite its R rating, "Diary" grossed $71.5 million domestically and $208.5 million overseas. The new film should equal those figures though production costs have clearly gone up with side trips to Rome, the Austrian Alps and Thailand.
As with the first film, this one is based on a novel by Helen Fielding organized as a diary by Bridget, a London-based "singleton" with an often disastrous social life and an unfortunate capacity for alcohol, tobacco and calories. The fundamental flaw in Fielding's follow-up (written along with Andrew Davis, Richard Curtis and Adam Brooks) is its denial of the character arc of the first novel and movie, namely that Bridget, a born self-loather, learns to accept herself "as I am." In so doing, she actually wins a dishy guy, human rights lawyer Mark Darcy (Firth), while shedding the shallow sexual opportunist Daniel Cleaver (Grant).
As the new movie opens, after six weeks with her Mr. Wonderful, Bridget falls back on her self-doubts and suspicions so that the movie can rewind the original plot. Indeed 50 laborious minutes are spent trying to drive a wedge between two people who clearly understand and adore one another. Much of that conflict centers on class divisions never raised in the previous film. The film even hints at a passive/aggressive streak in Bridget that casts its heroine in an awkward, negative light. In truth, she has become a bit of a pill and all the cute clumsiness and social shortcomings from the original now play more like psychotic behavior.
Anyway, at the 50-minute mark, they do break up—or at least not speak for several weeks. By then Bridget, now a TV journalist, you may recall, is off on assignment to Thailand paired with bad boyfriend Daniel. She naturally flirts with the notion of slipping back into an easy shag with her old flame but reclaims her sanity in the nick of time and heads for the Bangkok airport.
Here the story takes a serious wrong turn. Through plot contrivances, Bridget gets bused for drug possession just as she boards the plane and is thrown into a filthy prison full of female hookers and junkies. She languishes there for days, yet the movie refuses to relax its grip on frothy comedy. At the point Bridget is teaching the jailhouse to perform Madonna's "Like a Virgin," the movie is in serious need of a reality check. The conclusion back in London is pure formula with Firth and Grant even reprising their sloppy fist fight from the first movie to sharply diminished effect.
Zellweger, again inflicting her body with an alarming weight gain, remasters both a British accent and the adroit physical comedy that sees her negotiate a swank party in a skintight gold lame dress and flounder amusingly on Alpine ski slopes. Firth and Grant continue to be good company, though Firth's character is too impossibly good while Grant's bad boy could use a bit of redemption. Would he really walk away from the arrest of his ex-lover by Thai police without a flicker of concern?
Beeban Kidron, taking up the directorial reigns from Sharon Maguire, never finds a way to balance the more serious aspects with the comic but otherwise gives the actors the space to perform roles they have down to a T. That includes Jim Broadbent and Gemma Jones as Bridget's parents, even though they feel much more peripheral this time. Tech credits are fine despite shaky forays into CGI.
(by Derek Elley, Oct 31, 2004)
Second time round, Bridget is still fat, funny and endearing—but "all a bit, um, familiar, actually." Long-in-the- works sequel to 2001 hit, "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason" reteams key cast in a playful retread with the assumption that fans will flock for a second helping. Powerful combo of Renée Zellweger, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth—all at the top of their game and utterly comfortable in their characters—plus high want-to-see factor should ensure very good initial returns in Blighty, where it opens Nov. 12 amid saturation coverage, and Stateside a week later, amid a rapid worldwide roll-out.
Even more than "Bridget Jones's Diary," current outing takes just the bare bones of Helen Fielding's weighty, 420-page novel and tries to fashion it into a regular movie. Three writers, including Fielding, labored over the task, with Zellweger, Grant and Firth reportedly only signing on when Richard Curtis ("Notting Hill," "Love Actually") did a final rewrite. Curtis' spirit and evocation of a fairy-tale London and Britishness hang over the entire enterprise in a positive way, though even he hasn't quite managed to solve the central problem that there's not a lot going on here.
Fielding's novel managed to get round the problem with a mass of small incidents, loads of character subplots and the sheer compulsiveness of Bridget's neuroses. But where "Diary" had a strong will she-won't she emotional arc as Bridget found her ideal man, "Reason" is basically a series of set pieces that ends up where it started out. There's no sense of dramatic journey here.
Film picks up six weeks after the end of "Diary," with Bridget (Zellweger) blissfully happy with upper-class human rights lawyer Mark Darcy (Firth), with whom she's spent Christmas in the countryside at her gushy parents' (Jim Broadbent and Gemma Jones) home. A doofus reporter for TV show "Stand up, Britain," she's bullied at work by her director, Richard (Neil Pearson), but otherwise life is just grand for the overweight Brit ditz. Even her lubricious boss, and onetime heartthrob, Daniel Cleaver (Grant), is away, touring the world as presenter of a dumb travel show.
But, when Bridget's bitchy singleton pals, Shazza, Jude and gay Tom (Sally Phillips, Shirley Henderson, James Callis, all encoring), urge her to dump Mark, and she hears he has been spending time with glamor puss lawyer Rebecca (Jacinda Barrett), all of Bridget's neuroses start flooding back big time.
Kitted out with plenty of pratfall humor—all gamely played by Zellweger—pic's first half-hour has a nervous energy, plus an intrusive song track, that seems a little too eager. Dialogue, though, has its fair share of humorous squibs, finding its feet during a banquet set piece where Bridget is initially overwhelmed by the snooty company.
A ski trip to Switzerland again includes a knockabout set piece, and ends with Bridget and Mark splitting up.
It's here, almost halfway through, that a plot of sorts finally starts, signaled by a striking effects sequence (credited to Julian Webber) of a London nightscape peopled by lonely people in their apartments. Now "single" again, Bridget is dragooned into joining Daniel on a working trip to Thailand.
Realizing Daniel has other things than work on his mind, Bridget takes Shazza along. But when Shazza falls for studly charmer Jed (Paul Nicholls) and Daniel turns up the heat, Bridget ends up in a Thai jail.
Though the script tries to replicate the first film's heart-tugging moments, there's a lack of a big emotional arc to tie the episodic structure together. However, on a performance level, the movie is practically flawless.
Zellweger, wearing her 20 extra pounds with even more glee, makes Bridget absolutely her own, with a now-flawless Brit accent and a mass of tiny mannerisms that sustain the role even when the script seems unsure. Given that no more Fielding novels exist, and the films' relationship to them was only ever a starting point, Zellweger's Bridget is now a bona fide comic creation that could have a screen future of its own.
With more time than in "Diary," Firth balances Mark's emotional retentiveness, inner warmth and class hang-ups in a surprisingly edgy, unpredictable performance that gives the movie its few moments of real uncertainty. At the other end of the scale, Grant, looking like he's on one big vacation, simply has a ball with Daniel. Other roles, from Phillips' self-serving Shazza to Jones' scatty mum, are on the money, while Aussie-born looker Barrett (from MTV's "The Real World") is suitably soignee as the Sloaney Rebecca.
Beeban Kidron, taking the helming reins from the original's Sharon Maguire, turns in a slick, marginally better- ooking but generic product that doesn't mess with the formula. Harry Gregson-Williams' score is always an emotional assist, when given the chance between the jolting use of upbeat songs.
For the record, pic contains a sizable number of jokes that only British viewers will get.
practice my 'Jones, Bridget Jones' on Mark. Suspect is better to
be ultra sexy Bond girl than Mr Shaken Not Stirred himself but will nip
out to get olives just in case.
(by Geoffrey Macnab, 28 October 2004)
Bridget Jones is back, as fretful and neurotic as ever, in an expertly crafted (if rather soulless) sequel which is likely to hit all the right buttons for Working Title. Renee Zelwegger again excels as the podgy, thirtysomething London singleton with the ineffably messy love life. She is fed plenty of witty and acerbic one-liners by a high- powered screenwriting team. Hugh Grant effectively reprises his role as the womanising cad, Daniel Cleaver, while Colin Firth looks as tousled and soulful as ever playing handsome but uptight lawyer, Darcy, the love of Bridget’s life. Nonetheless, it occasionally seems as if we’re watching a remake, not a sequel. The same characters perform the same arabesques as in Sharon Maguire’s Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001), albeit in different order. The other key novelty here is that there is some foreign travel thrown in.
In her first cinema outing, Bridget reaped a weighty $280m at the worldwide box-office. Novelist Helen Fielding’s heroine seems certain to post equally fat returns with her second foray on the big screen. She should certainly help Working Title to exorcise the memories of a very skinny summer in which Thunderbirds nose-dived and Wimbledon double-faulted with US audiences.
Some reviews will be grudging, some male viewers might find Bridget’s antics on the emetic side, US viewers may be baffled by references to popular UK TV shows like Footballers’ Wives, but that shouldn’t affect what should be bumper business both sides of the Atlantic.
As the film begins, Bridget is in clover. "I’ve found my happy ending at last," she confides in her diary-style voice-over which runs throughout the movie. She has spent several weeks as the girlfriend of Darcy. He seemingly loves everything about her, even her "wobbly bits." But she has simmering doubts about the relationship. These are exacerbated during a skiing holiday during which she thinks she has fallen pregnant. She makes a fool of herself at Darcy’s law society dinner and remains suspicious that he is having an affair with the leggy and glamorous Rebecca Gillies. The relationship splutters to a halt and Bridget (still trying to make her mark as a serious TV journalist) is whisked off to Thailand by her bosses to present a travel show. Her co-host is the seemingly reformed Cleaver, who claims to have been in sex therapy. After narrowly avoiding being seduced by him, she ends up in a Thai jail, accused of drug smuggling.
The narrative moves forward in episodic fashion. Rather than a seamless piece of storytelling, this is essentially a collection of comic set-pieces. Some work, some don’t. In one memorable scene, we see Bridget communing with the sand on a magic mushroom trip. In another, she takes to the slopes, inadvertently wins a slalom race, and ends up skiing into a pharmacy where the German-speaking locals are baffled by her requests for a pregnancy testing kit. The sequence in the Thai prison, in which she choreographs the other inmates in a performance of Madonna’s Like A Virgin, is excruciating, but whenever the film lurches too far toward whimsy or mawkishness, the filmmakers will throw in a piece or sardonic dialogue or a joke about Bridget’s oversized underwear.
Paradoxically, Bridget is a prim and surprisingly naive figure. Though she talks endlessly about "shagging," she doesn’t do very much of it. Zellwegger seems to have put even more weight on to play the part than for the first film. The risk was that if she made Bridget too blowzy, it would be mystifying why Darcy and Cleaver were so obsessed by her, but that if she was too demure, she would turn into a wallflower. It’s a tribute to Zellwegger’s virtuoso performance that Bridget still remains a credible romantic heroine, however absurd and embarrassing the circumstances in which she finds herself.
As per usual in Working Title’s romantic comedies, we’re treated to various picture postcard views of London landmarks in breaks between the drama. There is one bravura shot in which the camera pulls back from solitary, self-pitying Bridget and pans across a huge, night-time cityscape full of happy lovers, but such formal flourishes are kept to a minimum.
What now for Bridget Jones? Early on, as we see Bridget sky diving to the accompaniment of Carly Simon’s Nobody Does It Better before plummeting down to earth in a pool of pig shit, the filmmakers pay their own tongue-in-cheek hommage to James Bond. It’s doubtful whether Bridget will have the staying power of Ian Fleming’s spy hero. There are no new Helen Fielding novels for Working Title to draw on and it’s hard to see how Bridget could yet again be restored to her blissfully unhappy singleton state, but if the box-office warrants it, don’t be surprised if Bevan and Fellner try to turn Jones into a Bond-style franchise with a second sequel.
| Am loved!
Am brilliant! Though suspect former fuckwit critic has been abducted by
aliens or Mum's gardening club. No matter. Shall reward self, the Queen
of Comedy, with low-carb treats: champagne and chocolates.
(by Christopher Tookey, Oct 21, 2004)
Bridget Jones is back, and she's fatter, funnier and more foolish than ever. Three years on, she's become a globetrotting James Bond of romantic misadventure.
It's been a fine year for sequels, and Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason—like Shrek 2 and Spider Man 2—is even better than the original. I confidently predict it will be the biggest British hit of all time—an outstanding romantic comedy, with no fewer than three performances that deserve to be regarded as classics.
Renee Zellweger is, quite simply, adorable. She has created in Bridget a truly wonderful comic creation: someone who, for better or worse, epitomises an entire generation. I saw the film with an audience of whom 80 per cent were females in their 20s and 30s, and never have I felt such a wave of love and empathy from an audience towards a single character. From the moment she sings a dopey version of The Sound Of Music on top of Primrose Hill, she has us in the palm of her chubby hand.
And as her self-destructive insecurities, awful dress sense and breathtaking lack of social skills threaten her perfect, four-week-old relationship with her 'human rights lawyer and total sex god' Mark Darcy, she offers an even more highly credible view than Shrek 2 of what can go wrong with a relationship after the partners have walked off into the sunset.
Zellweger received an Oscar nomination as Best Actress for her last performance as Bridget. Here, she's even better. Her English accent is more consistently accurate, and her use of embarrassed British body language in the kind of costumes that would make Trinny and Susannah reach for the smelling salts is consistently hilarious. She reveals an unexpected talent for slapstick that recalls the heyday of Lucille Ball.
Hugh Grant is equally superb as the clever, charismatic, eternally unreliable love rat Daniel Cleaver, who claims to have been in therapy for sex addiction ("I hug people who smell") but remains randy enough to mount a telling counter-attack on Bridget's wobbly virtue in, appropriately enough, Bangkok and Phuket. Other things happen to Daniel, too, that suggest Grant has an ability unique among movie stars to laugh at himself and his own offscreen frailties. It's hard luck on Jude Law's Alfie that he should have to do battle at the box office with a mere supporting character who's so much sexier and more topical than he is.
Colin Firth once again survives having to wear the comedy pullover that Gyles Brandreth rejected, and has much more to do, in terms of acting range, than in the first movie; he pulls it off with extraordinary confidence and power. He has matured as a serious actor, while maintaining the lightness of touch you need in a romantic comedy. His improvised, fight with Hugh Grant over Bridget outside the Serpentine art gallery is even more tear-inducingly uproarious and undignified than in the first movie.
In Firth, Grant and Paul Bettany (who stood head and shoulders above the mediocrity of the film Wimbledon), Britain has the world's three best rom-com actors.
Of course the film will have its critics who will accuse it of being comfy, unrealistic and inhabiting the middle-class universe of Notting Hill and Love Actually. And yes, it is in the same tradition. It's highly stylised: neon signs in Piccadilly Circus blare out encouragement to Bridget as she totters past, and her answering machine has a spitefulness all its own: "You have absolutely NO messages. Not a single one. Not even from your mother!"
Like several of the plot strands in Love Actually, Bridget Jones 2 is humorously ironic and postmodern, in the way it deliberately sends itself up as unrealistic. At one point, Bridget begs Darcy to propose to her with the words: "I know there's no music playing and it's not snowing, but ..." And, sure enough, later on we do get the obligatory music and Richard Curtis-y snow scene, though not in quite the romantic context we expected.
So, in some ways, BJ2 is deliberately artificial and aware of its lack of realism as a feel-good movie. But it's also highly authentic in the way it portrays how modern singles really think; and its sympathetic portrayal of middle-class life is much more recognisable than films which seek to rub our noses in the awfulness of everything, and the repulsiveness above all else of being English, white and middle-class.
If this is bourgeois cinema, give us more of it—especially when it's as funny, charming, sophisticated and gloriously successful as this is.
real star! v.v.g. Abnormally fixated on knickers, which could
explain attitude toward the lovely Colin. Or is jealous git. Suspect is
both. Will send self-help book on improving one's self-esteem.
(by David Edwards, Oct 21, 2004)
They're back. No, not Hugh Grant, Colin Firth and Renee Zellweger. I'm talking about Bridget Jones's massive pants which get their first on-screen airing in three years. Cinema's most-notorious knickers are just one of the highlights of Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason, a film that's by far and away the best British comedy of the year. Even better than the 2001 original, I guarantee you'll be blown away by its laugh-out-loud humour and utterly entranced by Zellweger as the hapless thirtysomething.
Following on from Bridget Jones's Diary, the serial singleton has been happily dating Mark Darcy (Firth) for six weeks—or "71 ecstatic shags" as she puts it. With the wilderness years behind her and her career as a hapless TV journalist going from strength to strength, she's secretly waiting for her new beau to pop the question. But things quickly unravel as she starts to suspect that shapely Rebecca (Jacina Barrett) is making a play for her new bloke. To make things worse, temptation rears its carefully-coiffured head when slimy Daniel Cleaver (Grant) arrives back on the scene determined to rekindle his romance with Jones.
The result is a film packed tighter than a pair of size 14 pants, with great one-liners and hilarious situations. One of the best comes when Jones is forced to parachute from an plane for a TV report. Paralysed with fear, she tells her producer: "I can't see anywhere soft to land." "How about your a**e?" comes the unhelpful reply.
She has about as much luck on the ski slopes too. Also hilarious is a scene when Jones jets to Thailand for an assignment and unwittingly eats an omelette stuffed with magic mushrooms. She ends up in the bed of Cleaver, who utters the immortal line: "Oh God, I hope you're wearing the giant panties."
If the jokes shine, it's the performances that truly dazzle. Grant is perfect as a sleazy TV producer while Firth, who could never be accused of being a great actor, is utterly convincing as the charming but snooty Darcy. But it's Zellweger who is the real star, although until last year it was not certain she would take the role as it meant piling on the pounds to go from a size six to a 14. Well, thank God she did, because nobody else could bring such a winning mixture of vulnerability and haplessness to the role. As in the first film, Jones endlessly frets about her relationships, sometimes drinks too much and continually worries about her weight. In other words, we can't help but like her because she's just like us.
My only problems with the film are the same ones that can be levelled at most recent Working Title productions—namely a sometimes overly-quaint view of London and that "bugger" and "shag" dialogue that's been popping up in their scripts ever since Four Weddings And A Funeral.
Quibbles aside, this is a terrific was to spend an hour and a half. Laugh? I nearly snapped the elastic on my pants.
insightful in manner of great minds of century,. Question emphasis on
pants and bottoms.
"And now back to the studio"
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