We all have that friend, I guess. The one we love regardless of the fact that they embarrass not only themselves with by-the-minute regularity but everyone within a 15-foot radius. Or perhaps we are that person slipping down stairs, mispronouncing important words in front of important people, drawing undue attention to ourselves by means of inappropriate attire, etc. Or perhaps we are that odd other kind of person who is neither embarrassing nor tolerates the company of the embarrassing. These are the people who scowl or grimace or whose jaws hang open while eyes bulge when a mess of a person loudly says something off-color or rips open her dress accidentally or uncontrollably pees. I don't get those people. I mean, everybody accidentally pees sometimes, right? Right? Right?!? Anyway, in life there are Bridget Jones-es, the people who love them, and those other people. I am a Bridget, and there are Bridgets in my life, but after seeing Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, I have more in common with the others than I thought. I mean, will Bridget ever get her act together?
Bridget Jones's Diary was one of the best surprises of 2001. Funny, fresh, British, and even sexy, Diary accomplished several things at once: It reaffirmed how sexy and fun Hugh Grant can be, established Renée Zellweger as a major, bankable star, and introduced Colin Firth to scads of American women who have been longing for a stoic, humorless, handsome Brit to arrive on the scene as a thinking woman's sex symbol. It also made Rubensesque sexy again in the American consciousness. As a cousin of mine once said, "Bones are for dogs. Meat is for men." Amen! Not that Zellweger is exactly chunky, even at 30 pounds over her scientifically determined optimal body weight (which is what she gained both times she signed on to play Bridget). Regardless, Bridget eats, drinks, and smokes too much and realizes it. Part of her charm is that she struggles, as so many of us do, with just keeping it all together.
I haven't gotten to the sequel yet. I guess I should. But Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason is almost more of a remake than a sequel, so there's not much to say. It's the same characters and similar situations mostly scenarios that seem set up for a girl like Bridget to fumble through again and again. Nothing new here.
In any case, in the last installment, Bridget overcame insecurities and the battle of the bulge and ended up with human-rights attorney Mark Darcy (Firth) instead of her slimy but sexy boss Daniel Cleaver (Grant). Edge of Reason picks up six weeks later, and Bridget and Mark are happily shagging the days away, combining their lives awkwardly (she's Dharma to his Greg) but happily, until Bridget is bitten by the Green-Eyed Monster. Yep, that's right jealousy. Mark has a sexy assistant who seems to be making eyes at Mark all the time, and now suddenly Bridget can think of a dozen reasons why Mr. Right is Mr. Wrong. So, she sinks the ship before it can sink her and finds herself single again and back in the treacherous path of that cheating cad Daniel, who promises he's in sexual-addiction therapy and mending his ways.
The major difference between the first and second Jones films is that in this sequel, tele-journalist Bridget is mistakenly jailed in a Thai prison while on assignment. Whoops-a-daisy! This sets up the means by which the major plot elements of the first movie can be reprised: Mark proves his love, Daniel proves his caddishness, and Bridget proves that she can keep her chin up and smile through the darkest of times namely, being mistakenly jailed in a Thai prison. (Isn't Thailand where they cane people? Yikes!)
This might be an interesting development for Bridget if the movie indulged in a tonal shift worthy of how dire the situation could be. I would love for there to be real emotional consequences to this imprisonment and the legal wrangling it takes to free our girl. Alas, there is none.
Zellweger, who is probably the most versatile actress of her generation, holds it all together with spunk and self-effacing zeal. But every other element Firth and Grant included (thanks to a script that asks nothing more from them than a reprise) seems like a rerun. Even the fight (choreographed brilliantly to "It's Raining Men") between the two men, so memorable in the first, is repeated here, to lesser effect. Bridget Jones: More of the Same would have been a more appropriate title to this fun if trivial and unnecessary sequel.