Film — Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason (PG-13)

Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason (PG-13)

by Amy Diaz

Nothing’s funnier than a fat girl who can’t find love, according to the perplexingly bad Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason, sequel to the genuinely funny and charming Bridget Jones’ Diary.

Ah, well, someone had to do it. Someone had to break the spell of good sequels—Spider-Man 2, Harry Potter, Shrek 2. Someone had to come along and give us an example of a sequel mired in reheated suckiness.

And, in fairness, the Persuasion-esque plot of the book Edge of Reason was hardly the joyful satire of chick-lit its original was. Large swaths of that book chugged along on the fumes of Helen Fielding’s uneven writing alone with little in the way of plot to fuel forward motion.

And yet the book was far better than this tissue-light rewrite. Edge of Reason reminds me of Sassy magazine—a bit full of itself and big-sisterish in its own idea of its coolness, it still offered a smarter, funnier version of its genre (just as the first Bridget Jones almost made you believe that a movie could be both romantic and comic). But when new owners took over, the magazine became a shallow imitation—all the slang, none of the knowingness behind it. Such is Edge of Reason—plenty of cigarettes and man-troubles, but none of the heart.

It’s four weeks after the first movie ended and Bridget (Renee Zellweger) is happily entwined in coupledom with her knight in shining tweed, Mark Darcy (Colin Firth). He’s everything she ever wanted in a man—except, of course, that he’s still a man with his own wants, needs and thoughts that he doesn’t express the moments he’s had them. So naturally, Bridget misunderstands things and feels put out and, without waiting for the very Britishly taciturn Darcy to warm up to an answer, she assumes all hiccups lead to break-up.

Since Darcy never cracks an emotion, Bridget decides to move on with her life—which more or less consists only of eating a huge amount of ice cream. She also decides, sort of, well, actually I guess the story decides that nothing but lovelorn ruminations from a “fat girl” won’t amount to much of a movie so it throws Bridget in the path of Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant), her one-time boss/ slimy boyfriend. He’s now earned mild fame as the host of a travel TV show for the same network where Bridget works. They are thrown together on an assignment covering the exotic world of Thailand. Thrown together in a land of easy access to drugs and skimpy outfits, Cleaver and Bridget begin to rekindle some of their previous spark. But that gets dampened really quickly when Bridget’s friend Shazzer (Sally Phillips) asks her to pack a strange-looking knick-knack for a youngish manboy she’s been romancing on the beach.

Brokedown Palace here we come.

Yes, Zellweger soldierly gained what must be 30 pounds (though the movie treats her as if she is on the other side of 200 pounds) and allows every unflattering inch of flab to be worked for full “comic” effect. Yes, Grant is still a crackling electric shock of unabashed snarkiness and ego. Yes, Firth is still painfully shaggable—his barely submerged smirk at the absurdity of this movie makes him all the more achingly geek-hot. (Is it my imagination or does he always seem a few seconds away from cutting loose with a string of self-deprecating mockery over both this crap movie and his stuffed-shirt role in it? Is it my imagination or does his handsome face always seem on the verge of breaking into an eye-crinkling smile that shows off his…a-hem, sorry I was just, er, what where we talking about? Shoes or something?)

But, just like Sassy after its buyout, it’s all surface, no substance. The appearance of these things does not in any way recapture the spirit of the last movie. Bridget is not the flawed Everygirl—she’s the “don’t” photo in Cosmo. We don’t root for her, sympathize with her or cheer for her.

We tire of her.

- Amy Diaz 

 
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