Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason

Posted By on Wed, Nov 17, 2004 at 12:00 AM

In Bridget Jones’s Diary, author Helen Fielding showed us that even an extremely self-conscious, frequently nutty woman who wears frighteningly large underpants could be loved, just the way she is. Yes, even cigarette counting, calorie obsessed, neurotic Bridget found love, in spite of herself.

In turn, twenty- and thirtysomething “singletons” found a hero, for in her diary Bridget expressed her insecurities, fears and moments of glee.

But the book did not translate as well to screen. And considering that Fielding’s second Bridget installment was a weaker novel, Edge of Reason makes for an even worse film than the predecessor.

Instead of a heroine, Renée Zellweger’s Bridget comes off as a lovable buffoon, more Lucille Ball than Carrie Bradshaw. Bridget’s tendencies for embarrassing moments and foot-in-mouth syndrome are even more exaggerated in Edge of Reason.

On paper, Bridget Jones’s obsession with her weight is part of her charm, because we know she’s fussing over nothing. But anyone who has seen Chicago knows Zellweger doesn’t weigh more than a twig or two, yet here she is looking like she’s had a few decent meals. So, the joke becomes Renee’s 30-pound weight gain, not the triviality of her character’s weight obsession. Chalk it up as another blow to the average woman’s body image: Hollywood needs to fatten up its starlets to play regular women. Kinda sickening.

The script has abandoned the beloved paperback Bridget, too, leaving her to fight her way out of a plot concocted out of idiocy. Most of the blame rests on Fielding, because the worst parts were ripped from her book.

In the first movie, at least Bridget only had everyday situations to muddle through. The sequel goes much father over the top, putting poor Bridget in a squalid, overcrowded Thai prison. Watching a bubbly white girl teach abused, tortured Thai women to sing “Like a Virgin” is even more sickening than Zellweger’s extra poundage.

Hugh Grant, reprising his role as the deviously chauvinistic Daniel Cleaver, steals the show in the sequel, much as he did in Diary. He’s much better at playing pig than at his usual bumbling Brit routine, and his sparring with Zellweger makes for some of the funniest moments.

Still, the film relies too heavily on recycled jokes from the first movie, even replaying Diary’s feeble Grant-Colin Firth fight scene.

When the funniest moment in the sequel is a paler version of a gag in the original, you know you’ve been stuck with sloppy seconds.

Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey writes about film for Metro Times. E-mail letters@metrotimes.com.

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