Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis

            You’ll be very grateful when you laugh in  “Bridget Jones:  The Edge of Reason” because it won’t happen often.  The movie doesn’t work on any level – except for the occasional chuckles that seem generated by sympathy for the actors.  The first version, which told the tale of an awkward Brit who couldn’t be saved from her own mistakes, was quite funny and offered the fine surprise of a purposefully bulked up Renee Zellweger as Bridget. 

            No sooner had Zellweger slimmed to an impossibly graceful silhouette for the dazzling success of “Chicago” than she had to repeat the bulk-up for this movie.  It wasn’t worth it.  Perhaps in the absence of a good script, director Beeban Kidron wields the camera like a weapon, following Zellweger’s ample rump and rippling skin at every opportunity.  It’s the movie’s running joke, and it runs out of gas quickly. 

            Zellweger is such an appealing actress that her smile breaks through often enough to elicit our sympathy.  How possibly could the producers have accepted this turkey of a script?  Two plot devices - a trip to Thailand and a lesbian suitor - seem absurdly irrelevant, each one of them stopping the story in its long, dull, tracks. The movie is a pastiche of unconnected scenes.  

            One person is irresistible:  Colin Firth, who slips from adoration to embarrassment with a barely discernable change of expression.  His Darcy is so ramrod stiff that it is easy to imagine he must have suffered some malfunction of the heart to love Bridget as he does.  When finally his lifetime of inhibition explodes at an insult to his beloved, the slapstick scene in the water fountain brings the one set belly laughs in the movie. All Darcy’s tense misery pours out in an instant of emotional chaos.  Firth is exactly right for his role, and Hugh Grant is fine as Daniel Cleaver, the sleaze ball of a cad who once again manages to become Bridget’s boss.  Grant is a prisoner of his own mannerisms, but it doesn’t defeat him here.

            In a labored and overwrought effort, few in the supporting cast can offer much help.  Jim Broadbent is wasted in the small role of Bridget’s erased father, while the scenes involving her mother are just plain awful.  The Thai prison subplot is so lame it surely must have been dropped in by mistake.  How did this happen?

            The final lines leave open the possibility of a third Bridget movie.  Please don’t do it, Hollywood, and please don’t make Renee Zellweger ping pong her weight again.  She’ll eat her way right into the sequel to the movie about McDonalds.  This is the stylish star of  “Chicago,” and she deserves better.  Grant, Zellweger, and Firth are immensely likable actors who could make a good time of any film, and that, my friends, is the measure of what an unfortunate misfire this movie is.


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