Mark Reviews Movies

BRIDGET JONES: THE EDGE OF REASON

2 Stars (out of 4)

Director: Beeban Kidron

Cast: Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Jacinda Barrett, Gemma Jones, Jim Broadbent

MPAA Rating: R (for language and some sexual content)

Running Time: 1:48

Release Date: 11/12/04 (limited); 11/19/04 (wide)


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Review by Mark Dujsik

There was something so simple about Bridget Jones's Diary at the time of its release three years ago that made it seem—at least at a time of old, tired romantic comedies—almost revolutionary. It was romantic and funny. Now comes the sequel Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, and the title pretty much says it all. By its nature, the movie stands on that edge of rationalizing its existence as a continuation of an already complete story. In its opening moments, we're led to believe that this will be an examination of what happens after a fairy tale ending like the one that concluded its predecessor, which would be all well and good. Soon, though, it's clear the movie is simply going to fall back on a typical formula, where forced conflict sets a couple asunder and even more forced circumstance brings them back together. It's a shame, especially since the original was so delightful an excursion. This one takes a look at that edge, shrugs, and walks away, while its main character looks over the edge of her own reason, takes a few steps back, runs head on, and swan dives past the border dividing cute-quirky and psychologically-unbalanced-quirky.

A little over a month after Bridget (Renée Zellweger) and Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) got together on that snowy evening, the former London singleton finds herself incredibly happy, The two seem on the track to a lifetime together, with her staring adoringly at him and folding his underwear as he sleeps. Of course, it can't last.  Rebecca (Jacinda Barret), one of Mark's pretty, young colleagues, is the target of her new feelings of jealousy, which leads her to doubt her new boyfriend's faithfulness. This rings particularly true after hearing that he and his co-worker are at his house. It all turns out to be a big misunderstanding (nothing new for Bridget), but she is still not convinced. With the relationship already on the rocks, Bridget becomes extremely sensitive to even the slightest slight—real or perceived. After a disastrous night at a banquet, Bridget ends the relationship, leaving her single again. Soon, she's offered a new job, traveling the world and commenting on the sites with her former boss and flame Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant).

The plot feels pieced together in a slap-dash fashion, never giving us a satisfactory reason that Bridget and Mark should part in the first place, which inevitably brings us to the problem of Bridget's neuroses. As innocently adorable as they were the first time around, this time, they go that extra mile to distance us from the heroine. Whether she's stalking outside of Mark's house, trying to discover what he and Rebecca are up to and only to slide off a skylight, getting upset with him because he assumes she knows how to ski (in typical Bridget fashion, she doesn't and fails to mention that fact) or taking such events to create some excuse to break up with him, Bridget's off-kilter personality rubs us the wrong way too many times to be sympathetic towards her. Renée Zellweger continues to exude a certain charm throughout, but in such awkward situations, her character more often than not nulls and voids it. By the time we realize that Bridget and Darcy's relationship has faded, one is left to wonder not if she will go back to him but whether he would take her back if she does.

Of course, all of this presupposes the idea that we care one way or the other about their fate. Considering how strained the initial conflict comes across, such feelings are difficult to conjure. Even a good amount of the jokes run decidedly flat. A scene in which a count of "stings" Bridget receives during a conversation, illustrated by a ticking jellyfish counter, comes off as a pointless visual gag. Recycled material from the first film pops up intermittently and is almost always kept in the shadows of the original jokes. The opening tries to top Bridget's infamous ride down the fire pole by sending her skydiving into a pigpen. Another Xeroxed moment tries to recreate one of the predecessor's shining scenes by pitting Darcy and Daniel in another slugfest but fails to even approach matching it. And then there's the plot equivalent of a non sequitur when Bridget ends up in a Thai prison for drug trafficking (all an innocent mix-up, of course). That scene does contain the movie's best moment, as Bridget is put to shame by complaining about her relationship with Mark in the company of a woman whose boyfriend put her on the street to make money.

If a lot of this sounds farfetched, it plays just as equally. The developments here play exactly as what one would hope a sequel wouldn't be—an excuse for a sequel—no matter the lesson our heroine learns in the process. The awakening of Bridget Jones comes far too late for her to win back hearts, anyway, and it's questionable how much she's actually grown through her ordeal (spending an inordinate amount of time choosing an outfit takes precedence to rushing to talk to Mark at the end). Instead, she seems the same static character throughout the movie, and as a result, a little Bridget unfortunately goes a long way.

Copyright © 2004 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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