Benjamin is a former volunteer DJ at his local hospital radio station. He has been reviewing films online since 2004.
What's the Big Deal?
Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason is a romantic comedy film released in 2004, and it is based on the novel of the same name by Helen Fielding. The sequel to the 2001 film Bridget Jones' Diary, the film picks up the story a few weeks after the events of the first film and follows Bridget's misadventures after believing that her boyfriend Mark is having an affair with a work colleague. The film stars Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent and Gemma Jones and was directed by Beeban Kidron, replacing Sharon Maguire from the first film. Unlike the first film, the film had a more mixed response from critics, but it still found success at the box office with global takings of more than $265 million. The film was followed in 2016 by a third film, Bridget Jones' Baby, which has apparently ended the franchise for now.
What's It About?
Bridget Jones is still giddy with glee after winning the heart of hunky lawyer Mark Darcy. However, her insecurities get the better of her once again when she meets Rebecca, Mark's work colleague who is slimmer, prettier and smarter than Bridget. Fortunately, her career in media is going places after she signs on to join the cast of a new travel documentary despite having to appear on screen alongside her sleazy ex boyfriend, Daniel Cleaver and openly dismissing him to his face as a "deceitful, sexist, disgusting specimen of humanity".
After a disastrous evening at a quiz night involving Mark's law firm, Bridget and Mark have a serious argument before reconciling over a prospective skiing trip to Austria. However, Bridget's idea of a romantic getaway is shattered after discovering that Rebecca and others from the law firm are there as well. After another fight and increasing suspicion about Mark's relationship with Rebecca, Bridget is advised by her friends to leave Mark and she does so before flying out to Thailand - and into the waiting company of Cleaver...
What's to Like?
The strongest thing in the favour for the first film was the light-hearted whimsy of its heroine, elevated by another fantastic performance by Zellweger as the hapless singleton. Thankfully, she returns for the sequel Edge of Reason and once again, she inhabits every fibre of Bridget's being. She is the living embodiment of hopeless romanticism, perpetually weak at the knees and able to suffer maximum embarrassment with minimal consequences besides her fragile confidence taking yet another knock. She's also not your typical movie heroine - smoking and drinking far too much and definitely not the same body shape as countless other women in rom-coms. Despite being her second outing, Zellweger's Bridget is still an enjoyable breath of fresh air and still fighting the good fight for all the ladies out there who can only dream of one day looking like Cameron Diaz.
Crucially, it's important for Bridget to have the two men in her life to play off so once again, Firth and Grant duel it out for her affections although we all know how things will play out. But again, it's refreshing to see posh upper-class twits engaging in a thuggish street brawl. But just when you think the film is merely retelling the same jokes from the first film all over again, the film takes a couple of wild swerves away from the original's formula. There is a stronger emphasis on the comedy this time around, which makes sense seeing as Bridget has already solved her romantic entanglements in the first film. True, it doesn't work because I've had more giggles in a dentist's chair but at least it's trying to do something different. In fact, it throws so much at the wall but nothing seems to stick - traditional slapstick, comedic misunderstandings and a musical sequence set in a Thai prison are all in the film and they all fail to register even the slightest of smirks.
- Naturally, the film makes several changes to the book including the appearance of Cleaver who briefly appears in the novel but returns as a full character here due to Grant's popularity in the role. Another element missing is Bridget's obsession with Colin Firth as Mr Darcy in the BBC's 1995 production of Pride & Prejudice which obviously doesn't feature because Firth is already playing a different Darcy altogether.
- Sharon Maguire had no interest in returning to direct the sequel and Zellweger's preference for director was British director Nigel Cole (Calendar Girls, Made In Dagenham). When it was agreed that the film should be directed by a woman, Beeban Kidron was then hired. Maguire then returned to direct the third film.
- The beach bars in Thailand frequented by the cast and crew when filming there were completely destroyed in 2004 in the December 26th tsunami. The following summer, Zellweger sent a large package to the area containing memorabilia including a signed poster - which now adorns the rebuilt Mama Mia bar as of 2009.
What's Not to Like?
Unfortunately, by downplaying the amount of romance in a rom-com, you're left with a simpering comedy that spends almost its entire duration in second gear. The pace of the film is glacial - there are commercials with more narrative than this - and the emphasis on comedy feels sad and desperate. Instead of Bridget being the relatable girl-next-door hero we know and love, she's reduced to playing the fool in a number of situations and circumstances that become increasingly far-fetched and unamusing. I found myself feeling sorry for her to some extent as she goes through pratfall after pratfall but then, I remember that all of this stems from her own insecurities so then I resented her instead. Only Woody Allen has as many neuroses and personality flaws as Bridget and the movie gods don't conspire to make him a figure of fun either.
Perhaps realising that the comedy isn't working, the film instead relies too heavily on what worked the first time. Sadly, when Grant and Firth engage in some more fisticuffs this time around, it simply isn't as funny. It reminded me a lot of the sequel to the first Austin Powers film which recycled the best jokes from that film and inserted them in between less funny segments. Then by the time the dreadfully unfunny third film Goldmember arrived, they repeated the trick again except no joke is funny the third time you've heard it and the newer bits were about as amusing as a cancer diagnosis. It just feels lazy and uninspired and if it doesn't bring anything new to the table then why bother at all? The whole thing is merely an ill-disguised cash grab, capitalising on the success of the first film in a cynical and self-defeating manner. This is unfunny, unimaginative, unoriginal and unworthy of anyone's time, especially yours.
Should I Watch It?
Even fans of the book will wonder if this film is worth the effort. It isn't - it takes a winning formula and dilutes it to such a point that it barely resembles what it started as. Zellweger's performance is far too good to be in a film this poor but alas, them's the breaks. If a downbeat and poorly comedy like this is your idea of a good time then you've reached the edge of madness and it's time to re-evaluate your life. Bridget die-hards can probably just ignore this and move on to the third film but everyone else should stay well away.
Great For: clearing theatres, ruining a franchise's chances, violating human rights if the viewer is watching against their will
Not So Great For: fans of the first film or the books, male audiences, anyone searching for a good rom-com
What Else Should I Watch?
Bridget Jones' Baby is somewhat of a belated sequel, only rearing its head twelve years after this film in 2016. Thankfully, it is something of a return to form as a now-forty-something Bridget is pregnant, worrying about her job and single once again. Audiences were glad to see Zellweger return once again and it looks as if that will be all for now. Fielding has stopped for Bridget for now but who's to say when she'll return once again? Personally, I have my doubts Zellweger would return to the role for a fourth time but I've been wrong before.
Besides, there are other British rom-coms that are much better than any of the Bridget Jones films. It may be showing its age but there's such a warmth and a youthful vigour in Four Weddings and a Funeral that is hard to ignore with Grant's bumbling, stuttering fop Charles slowly realising that he has fallen for Andie McDowell. The same could also be said for Notting Hill except Grant's bumbling, stuttering bookstore owner Will slowly realising that he has fallen for Julia Roberts. However, I reckon Notting Hill has a better soundtrack and a better supporting cast led by Rhys Ifans' breakthrough appearance as Will oddball's flatmate Spike. Lastly, if you're looking for a rom-com with a shovelful of festive schmaltz then give Love Actually a try. A number of stories interwoven into one over a snowy Christmas in London, it features Grant's bumbling, stuttering Prime Minister slowly realising that he has fallen for Martine McCutcheon...
Adam Brooks, Richard Curtis, Andrew Davies & Helen Fielding*
Release Date (UK)
12th November, 2004
Comedy, Drama, Romance
© 2022 Benjamin Cox