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Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason  (2004)


Starring: Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant
Director: Beeban Kidron

Rating: R

Distributor: Universal

Release Date: 11.12.04

Review Posted: 11.12.04


By Sara M. Fetters


Bye-Bye "Bridget" - No Love for "Jones" in Pointless Sequel


Some books don’t need sequels. Helen Fielding learned that after penning a second volume of British heroine Bridget Jones’ ongoing romantic adventures. Critics ripped it to shreds, and while it still sold well it didn’t reach the numbers the original did, readers unimpressed with where the author chose to take her protagonist.


Movies are like books, some just shouldn’t have sequels. That goes doubly for “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason,” a film with so little rationale for existing I can’t imagine the audience it was made for. Throwing out most of the book’s storyline – which was probably a good idea based on that one’s ill-reception – and using a screenplay by a cadre of writers (including the author), this is still a mess of a movie, one which goes, quite literally, nowhere.


Pity, for the original “Bridget Jones” was a quietly surprising charmer that earned star Renée Zellweger an Academy Award nomination. It was a deft, spiritedly amusing romantic comedy full of whimsical charms most modern Hollywood productions sadly lack. With wondrous supporting turns by Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Gemma Jones and Jim Broadbent, the 2001 original was a winner and one of that year’s most pleasant surprises.


Not so this go-around. While the actors are all appear to be up to the challenge, the script is so lazy and Beeban Kidron’s (whom hasn’t helmed a film since “Too Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar” which should really say something) direction so uninspired all Bridget and company managed to do over the course of two hours was give me a splitting headache.


Picking up just a few weeks after the first film, Bridget (Zellweger) is blissfully enmeshed within her romance to the prim and proper Mark Darcy (Firth). But things start to sour when the pluckily overweight television reporter starts to suspect he’s having an affair with a sexy co-worker (played with a delightful liveliness by Jacinda Barrett of “Ladder 49”). When former beau and notorious lothario Daniel Cleaver (Grant) gets thrown back into this mixed-up mess which is her life, Bridget isn’t sure what to do next, especially when everything she does to please Mark seems to blow up in her face. Case-in-point, an evening at a black-tie political event where everything she does; espousing liberal philosophies, putting her foot where her mouth is, forgetting what Madonna’s first British hit was; goes inexplicably wrong.


This should be a cute, fun time at the movies. But it is not, and no amount of foolishness on Zellweger’s part is able to change it. The movie falls to pieces in almost every way. There is nothing here we haven’t seen before in other, better films and Kidron handles the picture like she could care less about the people populating it. There is no sense of style, no purpose to either the montage or the editing, and “Edge of Reason” moves with all the urgency of a rather lackluster episode of some run-of-the-mill sitcom. Sure, there are some nice touches here and there; I still love the omnipotent Coca-Cola sign and Bridget’s time is a Thai prison - a weird plot twist if their ever was one – is bizarrely amusing; but most of them happen in a train wreck sort of way; they’re so ungainly or absurd you just can’t take your eyes off of them.


The actors really do try, however. Zellweger, gaining weight once more to play the rotundly sexy Bridget, is as fun to watch and effervescently cheerful as ever. A scene between her and Barrett is the epitome of hilarious delights, and Zellweger plays the moment with a confused mix of surprise and sexiness that’s wonderful. Firth and Broadbent again supply a wry moment or two, the former especially good during a scene set in the Thai prison’s interrogation room. But, much like the first film, the picture is stolen by Grant. He’s a prig and selfish bore, but an acidly sexy one, and even more so than in the initial tale it’s easy to see why women so easily fall to pieces for his delightfully wicked lout of a character.


But that’s not even remotely enough to recommend this mess. It’s like watching the first movie’s greatest hits only stripped of all their delightful warmth and life. I hope the cast – especially Zellweger who apparently has lost and gained more weight in the last three years than Oprah – was well paid, for artistic merit certainly couldn’t have been the criteria for taking this one on. There is no reason, no rhyme and certainly no point to watching more of Bridget or her adventures, and the only edge to be found here is the one the filmmakers fell off of.


Film Rating: êê  (out of 4)


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