Nov 13, 2014

Review: Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004)

I didn't think that Bridget Jones's Diary was the greatest romantic comedy ever made or anything like that. Despite some predictability, it's quite funny, it's cunningly biting and contains a great Renée Zellweger performance. It's no small feat to bring such a popular book character to life. No doubt about it though, Renée gets the job done despite the early criticisms to her casting announcement.

The other way in which BJD was a huge success was at the box office. We're talking almost $300 million worldwide off of a $25 million budget. That's impressive stuff so no wonder a sequel makes sense. Author Helen Fielding had written a sequel to her original book anyway so the material was there. However I've read though that there are some pretty big differences between this adaptation and Fielding's novel which isn't usually a very good sign.


Genre: comedy, romance
Directed by: Beeban Kidron
Produced by: Tim Bevan, Jonathan Cavendish, Eric Fellner, etc.
Written by: Andrew Davies, Helen Fielding, Richard Curtis, etc.
Music by: Harry Gregson-Williams
Running time: 108 minutes
Production company: Universal Pictures, StudioCanal, Miramax Films, etc.
Distributed by: Universal Studios, United International Pictures, Mars Distribution, etc.
Country: United Kingdom, France, Germany, etc.
Language: English, German, Thai
Budget: $40,000,000
Box office: $262,520,724 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Gemma Jones, Jim Broadbent, Celia Imrie, James Faulkner, Jacinda Barrett, Sally Phillips, Shirley Henderson, James Callis, Jeremy Paxman, Ian McNeice, Jessica Stevenson, Paul Nicholls, Wolf Kahler, Catherine Russell, Ting-Ting Hu


Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger) is as happy as can be. She's having a blast being in a relationship with Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) and things are really looking up. Except that Bridget is feeling a bit antsy about whether Mark will propose or not. She even starts to doubt Mark's fidelity when she finds colleague Rebecca Gilles (Jacinda Barrett) hanging around a lot. Complicating matters even further is the reappearance of Daniel Cleaver into her life (Hugh Grant).


Compared to how Bridget Jones is treated as a character in the first movie, there's a significant difference in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. She's a toy now, to be but in awkward situations or simply to act out out cheap slapstick comedy. Bridget Jones always had her flaws, she was human after all. But now she's purely an idiot for whatever reason and it isn't cool. She seems to have lost any sense of how to act normally in public and this sequel is much worse for it.

A lot of BJ:TEoR might be familiar but not really in a good way. It looks to me like the writers just tried to re-do what people loved in the first movie without much thought. Things like Bridget making a fool of herself during a broadcast involving her behind of course as well as a fight scene between Mark Darcy and Daniel Cleaver. None of these things are as fun as they were originally and just feel stale.

There also seems to be even more narration from Bridget this time around. Narration to me is something that's a dangerous game to play because it either works or it doesn't. It did work very well in Bridget Jones's Diary because of the good writing as well as Renée's delivery. The good writing is completely absent now and made me wonder if the original writers weren't brought back. Andrew Davies, Helen Fielding and Richard Curtis were in fact brought back so I don't know what went wrong.

The story itself is also pretty thin and takes its sweet time to really begin. The other thing is that the conflicts are maddeningly frustrating. It's the kind of stuff you see in the worst of romantic comedies with stupid miscommunications and childish arguments. This movie never would've happened at all if Bridget had an ounce of common sense and trust. BJ:TEoR even lacks in the heart department. I didn't feel anything between Bridget and Mark and that was something the original definitely had.

With no heart and not a lot of originality either, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason is dressed up with references to The Sound of Music, The Spy Who Loved Me, an endless amount of music that becomes pretty distracting and a trip to Thailand. It tries to be a bigger movie than the original but ends up feeling so much more empty. Not to mention the unbelievable amount of obvious product placement. I can name Doritos, Ben & Jerry's, Clearblue, Coca-Cola, Yahoo! and so many more. The budget went up by $15 million but I'm sure the difference was more than covered by these deals.

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason completely fails to add anything new or interesting. There's no intelligent commentary on getting older, being more "regular" on the physical appearance side of things and I feel completely embarrassed for Renée Zellweger to have to put up with the kinds of things she had to do for this sequel. Her character was completely ruined by a focus on slapstick and turning Bridget into a complete fool. I just really don't get how the same writers from the first movie could have written this train wreck.



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