Judge Brett Cullum gained 25 pounds to write this review.
Bridget Jones: I truly believe that happiness is possible…even when you're thirty-three and have a bottom the size of two bowling balls
Same song, just repeat the first verse. That's the problem with Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. As a sequel to the very successful Bridget Jones's Diary, it offers nothing new. Also the law of diminishing returns is fully in effect here, because it seems to not be quite as solid or funny the second time around. Still, fans of the zaftig British single gal phenomenon will find some chuckles and a romantic moment or two scattered about. Keep your expectations in check, and you might find another visit with Bridget (Renee Zellweger, Chicago), Mark Darcy (Colin Firth, Love Actually), and Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant, Notting Hill) pleasant enough.
Facts of the Case
Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason picks up mere weeks after the conclusion of the first film. Bridget is completely enamored with Mark Darcy, and things seem to be going smashingly. They are deep into the "honeymoon" phase of their relationship, the time when personality traits that could be annoying instead seem cute and funny. Once that phase passes, Bridget becomes convinced Darcy is attracted to a suave and smart co-worker, Rebecca (Jacinda Barrett, Ladder 49). To make matters more complicated, Daniel Cleaver seems to be back in her life, as a smooth travel host for the same network Bridget works for. Before you can say "I love big pants," Darcy and Bridget are on the skids. And who else would the network assign Bridget to work with? She's off to Thailand as a newly-single girl, with Daniel and friend Shazzer (Sally Phillips, Birthday Girl) in tow. She ends up mistaken for a drug smuggler, and lands in a Thai women's prison. Will Darcy come to her rescue? Can she salvage their relationship? Will Mark and Daniel fight again?
Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason could never stand alone as a sequel. It demands that you've seen the first film, but then glosses over many of the favorite characters from it. Bridget's friends are given short shrift, and we hardly see them, except when they are offering unsolicited bad advice. Her mother and father are bit players this time around; I hardly noticed them doing anything but wearing wacky clothes and looking lost. Bridget's job as a television news journalist even seems a matter of convenience that is restructured to fit the plot whenever needed. It doesn't seem to have any purpose other than acting as a rehash of and coda to Bridget's story.
It's a surprise that this second installment of Bridget Jones drags a little, given that it was directed by Beeban Kidron, whose biggest hit so far has been To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar. We can't wholly blame her—the source book was widely regarded as a money grab by author Helen Fielding after the success of the first. This screen adaptation is nowhere near as faithful to its source material as the first movie. Cleaver's role has been greatly expanded, and some embarrassing bits with Darcy have been snipped. Still, there's no denying this sequel has a distinct aroma of "seen it all before" wafting around it. And even worse, it was all done a whole lot better in Bridget Jones's Diary.
The performances seem reheated for this outing. Renee Zellweger gamely regained the weight she put on for the first film, but seems less inspired by the material here. She actually seems to have gone too far and relied solely on the weight gain to turn her into the character. She's shot in a myriad of unflattering angles that make Bridget look heavier than ever. She's still witty and histrionic, but here Bridget's tics and quirks seem more grating and less endearing. The sad truth is neurotic girls don't seem to get better even when their relationships improve, something I didn't want to learn from this film.
The weight Zellweger put on seems to have come from Hugh Grant. He looks scary and skeletal as Daniel Cleaver, and he doesn't try very hard to win Bridget back when he seduces her during a sloppy scene in Thailand. Colin Firth is as charming as ever, but Darcy seems far too stable to put up with all of Bridget's shenanigans—especially when she threatens his career by showing up in important meetings just to whine and beg for his forgiveness. In the real world, he'd find a way to slap a restraining order on her to prevent her from coming near his office.
Being neurotic in movies always seems to pay off. Maybe that's where they got "The Edge of Reason" from for the title. The film takes us to the edge of logic, and asks us to just smile and accept it because these are characters we loved in the first film. We've seen Hugh Grant be more charming. We know Colin Firth can play stodgy and sexy simultaneously. When Renee Zellweger does a number with the girls in prison, we remember her far better turn in Chicago. This movie isn't offering us any joy of discovery, and lazily lopes along on the laurels of the characters and the actors' past projects.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
The DVD itself is actually a nice package. The transfer seems solid, despite some edge enhancement and pixelation now and then. Colors are rendered remarkably well, and it's all very clear, even in the blacks. The sound mix appropriately punches up the soulful score, which is more fun than the movie it supports. Beeban Kidron provides a friendly, funny commentary explaining why she decided to film certain sequences and ditch others. The deleted scenes don't add up to much, but it's nice to see them. The funniest bit is the excised bit where Bridget Jones interviews Colin Firth. It was a sequence that was famous from the book; rumor has it that George Clooney (Batman and Robin) would play Firth in the final cut. That never happened, but here we get a very funny look at the scene as played between Zellweger in character and Firth as himself. Two featurettes show how certain sequences were filmed; the best shows the fight between Daniel and Mark, which was largely improvised. Less successful is an interactive text quiz that decides which Bridget Jones suitor is right for you, with an option to play the movie with the quiz in it. Sometimes the menu navigation is problematic (once in the special features you can't get back to the main menu easily), and it seems clunky and bloated. (Maybe that's a good fit for the movie…)
It's definitely inferior in quality to the first movie, but Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason is still slightly charming and worth a smile or two. It's bad, but some of the chemistry and situations seem nice to revisit. I'd say it's worth a rental for a night when you don't have high expectations of viewing a great film. Fans of the series or any of the actors will find it a fine way to pass some time. The score is fun. And there are one or two scenes that I never saw coming, especially the ones with Rebecca. There's actually a pretty funny opening bit—a tribute to James Bond that works pretty well. Overall, the film has its moments here and there. Now, remember only a moment or two out of an hour and forty-eight minutes, and you'll be fine.
If you have a jones for Jones, you're better off watching the first Bridget Jones's Diary. It offers more than this tepid rehash. The lesson here seems to be that "neurotic" only works before the "happily ever after," and it's sad to see it extended. There's a point when it stops being cute and starts being embarrassing and sad. Who knew Bridget would continue to be such a pill? Hopefully this is the last time we'll see her acting like a nut. Zellweger has grown too much as an actress to have to put on weight to do unfunny, embarrassing sequels.
Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason is guilty of coasting on the good will of its much superior predecessor. Deja vu is fine, but not when it taints my memories of a nice charming romp. Next time, I encourage a simple re-release rather than a pale imitation. The makers are sentenced to abstaining from men and all carbs for several years until they can find something funny about being single again.
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