BRIDGET JONES: THE EDGE OF REASON
Just six weeks (and 71 excellent shags) after her romance with Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) is sealed with a kiss, and already Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger) is becoming uncomfortable in her relationship with him. Is he really mad about her, or is his leggy new assistant Rebecca (Jacinda Barrett) about to snare this human rights lawyer of hers? Things don't improve when her new boss in TV land sends her to Thailand with that rogue womaniser, Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant), who tries to seduce her. And on her way home, she is arrested and thrown into a Bangkok jail for carrying cocaine, hidden in a gift she packed for a friend. Can she survive this spate of bad luck, but more importantly, can she find true love or has Mark Darcy darted for good?
Review by Louise Keller:
If there's anyone who can make the sun shine, it's Bridget Jones. And the sun shines brilliantly in the sequel, whether she is falling down the ski slopes of Austria, munching magic mushrooms in Thailand or simply going about her daily routine in wet, wintry London. It's been three years since we fell in love with Bridget on screen, and her irrepressible nature hasn't been tamed a bit. She's a tad plumper, still smokes and manages to say all the wrong things at all the wrong times. But when she smiles, her eyes light up, and we fall in love with her all over again. And all the while, she continues to scribble her thoughts in her diary - about her insecurities, her dreams and her relationships.
Renée Zellweger has made being clumsy into an artform, and it's credit to her that we care for Bridget as much as we do. It's all in the delivery, and Zellweger delivers beautifully, from her immaculate British accent to her forthright public declarations of love for her Mark Darcy - usually on speaker-phone, when he is in conference with the Head of Amnesty International. One of my favourite scenes is when Bridget, inexperienced in the snow, slides on her skis into an Austrian chemist shop, performing a German version of charades as she tries to buy a pregnancy kit, much to the amusement of the onlookers. Bridget's yin-yang relationship with Mark continues to fascinate us: he is as seemingly cold as she is warm, and we can see what attracts one to the other. This is the kind of humour that works best, and moments like those when Bridget and Mark wait for the pregnancy test results and start squabbling about the hypothetical education their child would have, are priceless. Colin Firth's Mark is perfect as the reserved, upper-class lawyer, whose meticulous nature extends to the folding of his boxers, while Hugh Grant's seducing, lying rascal Daniel Cleaver who has been in 'shag-therapy', is as entertaining as ever. Just the sight of Gemma Jones and Jim Broadbent as Bridget's eccentric mother and accommodating father is enough to make me smile, as purple becomes the colour of the day.
I laughed and loved every minute of the film, even if the script is somewhat more contrived than the first. If there's a criticism, it's that the writers have concentrated on funny situations, rather than allowing the spontaneity of the characters to drive the humour. Perhaps Helen Fielding, who once again has adapted her novel with her co-writers from the first film, wanted to stick to the tried and true, winning formula. The Thailand jail sequence is the weakest point, but the very sight of a cell-full of Thai prisoners belting out a rendition of Madonna's 'Like a Wirgin' is a hoot. Some of the gags, like the big knickers and the fight between Mark and Daniel, are repeated too, but I was having such a good time, I bought it all.
All too quickly Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason comes to the end of her diary, and although the resolution may be predictable, it's been so much fun getting there. Let's face it, happily ever after is what we want for Bridget. Even if tomorrow brings another page in her diary to fill.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Bridget Jones has put on a tad more weight - but only physically. This much awaited sequel is a lightweight by comparison to our first reading of her diary. Missing are the essential elements of wit and the lightness of touch, in both writing and direction. Bridget has become a clunky, clumsy nerd who stumbles and pratfalls everywhere, lacking any redeemable qualities - and performing like a clown intent on making us laugh. Oh, look how silly I am...
In the original, her flaws and foibles were a charming part of her very credible character; in this sequel, she has been turned into a caricature and too little of her - or the film - is real.
Renée Zellweger plays up this caricature for most of the film, only reigning back for a few scenes of genuine emotion, such as when she really tells Mark off - and quickly regrets doing so. By contrast, Colin Firth is stoppered up even more than he was in BJD, with the result that he shows so little emotion we are left to imagine it for ourselves. Beeban Kidron seems to have pushed Zellweger one way too hard, and held Frith back too much; she has directed better than this (notably To Wong Foo...,in 1995).
Hugh Grant remains the same lovable, meanspirited, lying and womanising rascal - the trouble is we hardly see anything of him, other than the Thailand working holiday, a sequence that seems to have been stuck in just to keep him in the frame.
The screenplay just isn't as consistently entertaining as was the first, despite the same team working on it, an episodic and feeble attempt at following through with the notion of what happens after the happily ever after in Bridget's life. The screenplay ends up repeating itself and the characters end up rather lame.
With its occasional laughs and smattering of strong scenes, most of the film is a bit dull, sad to say, far too filled with close ups of a pudgy Renée Zellweger pulling faces of discontent. Maybe she had second thoughts about the film ... but a bit too late.
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BRIDGET JONES: THE EDGE OF REASON (M)
CAST: Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Jacinda Barrett, Jim Broadbent, James Callis,William Gaunt, Shirley Henderson
PRODUCER: Tim Bevan, Jonathan Cavendish, Eric Fellner
DIRECTOR: Beeban Kidron
SCRIPT: Andrew Davies, Helen Fielding, Richard Curtis, Adam Brooks (novel by Helen Fielding)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Adrian Biddle
EDITOR: Greg Hayden
MUSIC: Harry Gregson-Williams
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Gemma Jackson
RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 11, 2004
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.