A film review by Craig J. Koban


2004, PG-13, 108 mins

Bridget Jones: Renee Zellweger / Daniel Cleaver: Hugh Grant / Mark Darcy: Colin Firth / Mum: Gemma Jones / Dad: Jim Broadbent / Rebecca: Jacinda Barrett / Shazzer: Sally Phillips / Tom: James Callis / Jude: Shirley Henderson

Directed by Beeban Kildron / Written by Andrew Davies, Helen Fielding, Richard Curtis and Adam Brooks, based on the novel by Fielding

CrAiGeR’s Personal Diary:

Date of Entry: April 13, 2005 

Dear Diary, 

“Marital status: still irrepressibly single. 

Pounds lost or gained: zero. 

Number of months craigerscinemacorner.com has been running: Ten

Number of full-length reviews written for it: 126

Newest film to be added to the ever-growing list: BRIDGET JONES: THE EDGE OF REASON.  Review number: 127

Ultimate appraisal of the work: Inconsistent and ultimately unnecessary sequel. 

Diary, I was not sure what to expect as I sat down to watch this film.  I have such fond memories of the original 2001 hit with Renee Zellweger playing the title role with that right level of cuteness, shyness, naivety, and reckless abandon.  The reason I liked her so much in that film, I think, is that she felt so real, a common woman with common foibles and one who had a definite knack for placing herself in contemptible situations that could have otherwise been easily avoided.  In other words, she’s a lot like many people you meet or know on a daily basis.  She is one of those figures that you have not trouble whatsoever opening up to and liking because, let’s face it, she is just too adorable and charming to hate.  Yet, despite that, you kind of shake your head at her so much because of the difficulties she allows herself to endure.  Okay, she is not by any means a perfect woman (she is a textbook case of paranoia, not to mention that she binge eats too much and smokes, even when she says she has quit), but you still just want to open up your arms and give her a big hug.   

I sincerely loved the way the first film made her into a legitimate character with that right and subtle blend of comic and dramatic weight, and Zellweger truly deserved her Oscar nomination that she received.  Okay, yes, she has been better in other films (I always thought she was phenomenal in the criminally underrated NURSE BETTY), but she made Jones one of the more appealing and endearing of the latest female screen characters.  There’s no denying that she is a real something, that’s for sure.  This all, of course, is a credit to Zellweger, who played her role flawlessly. 

Now, diary, we have the inevitable sequel – THE EDGE OF REASON – and I have always been a bit skeptical, I am afraid.  Why?  Well, maybe because the original film and its source novel were always meant as "one shots" without any sequels.  Let me tell you, diary, nothing aggravates me more that sequels than are made purely for money.  Okay, films are a business, but I think that the success of a sequel is in how it takes the characters into new places and develops them further.  I guess, in the simplest terms, does THE EDGE OF REASON do anything to expand the story and the characters from the first film?  Not really, and this is a shame.  I liked much of what I saw in THE EDGE OF REASON and laughed a good number of times, but something just left an awkward taste in my mouth as I finished with it.  It really had nothing new to say that the first did not already.  This is what I like to call a déjà vu sequel – watching THE EDGE OF REASON I felt liked I visited the same place twice without any new spin on the proceedings. 

Well, I just don’t know diary…I am being a bit too harsh?  Maybe I had overly lofty expectations?  Nevertheless, I still maintain a modest level of expectations for screen comedies (they have to make me laugh, which THE EDGE OF REASON did, several times) but it also has to show me something presumably fresh and new (which this sequel failed to do).  Some of the prerequisite elements of the first film are here, to be sure: the affable and likeable performances by Zellweger (and especially by Colin Firth and Hugh Grant), the sly and sarcastic laughs that often payoff at a character’s expense, and the inner sympathy that we have for the main character.  However, the film felt, as a whole, more like a series of pratfalls and manufactured comic set pieces that didn’t add up to much, not to mention that the film did not tell a really involving story.  Not only that, but the film took a horrendous u-turn in its last act into moments of sheer ludicrousness and mediocrity that had me scratching my head.  I’ll get to that soon. 

Well diary, maybe I should rumble about the story, eh?  In THE EDGE OF REASON we see Bridget and her new boyfriend that she acquired at the end of the first film – Mark (played with the right level of coldness and restraint to be painfully funny by Colin Firth) – and the two seem madly in love.  Bridget remains as self-conscious as ever.  The end of the first film kind of set up the idea that the two would have been happily ever after, but that seemed superficial at best.   Needless to say, the two start to develop problems, based more or less on they differences in terms of their respective classes (Mark is, after all, a filthy rich human rights lawyer and Bridget is a lowly on-screen personality for a local UK FEAR FACTOR rip-off it seems).  I don’t know, but something tells me that, while watching the film,  maybe she was not ready to be a prime time girl, especially when she has to do things like ski dive into a pig farm and such.   

If her job was not complicated, her increasing jealousy of Mark’s relationship with his fellow co-worker is worse altogether.  She seems to take a great deal of displeasure noticing how much that Mark has been spending with his beautiful colleague Rebecca (Jacinda Barrett), and who could blame her.  Rebecca is super-model attractive and Bridget, by her own admission and words,  ‘has butt cheeks the size of two basketballs.”  Bridget’s own internal criticism of her image is sort of what makes her character shine, but in this film she hits rock bottom.  When she thinks that Mark is cheating on her, she dumps him fast, maybe a bit too fast considering that her evidence is circumstantial at best.  Several weeks of misery, eating ice cream, and smoking lots of cigarettes ensues. 

Okay diary, it is here where things get a bit complicated for poor ol’ Bridget. 

It seems that she has to fly off to Thailand on assignment for her show and eventually bumps into that SOB from the first film – Daniel (played with the absolute perfect level of commanding allure and vile ooze by the great Hugh Grant).  Okay, after seeing the first one I have no clue why she would even entertain getting back together with this classic embodiment of annoying narcissism and chauvinism.  After all, he’s now doing sleazy travel videos when intros like, “New York City.  Not only is it the place where SEX IN THE CITY is a TV show, but it’s an absolute certainty.”  Eventually, his wit and droll charisma wins over Bridget until she begins to come to her senses and realizes that Daniel is not the man for him.  Okay, maybe that occurred when the Thai hooker showed up at an improper time, but I digress. 

It is here, diary, where the absolute absurd happens.  Through a serious, serious mistake of circumstance, Bridget (get this) is busted from drug smuggling and is sentenced to a Thai prison.  Yes, Bridget is no drug dealer, but her scenes in the in the jail are some of the more ridiculous moments I have had to endure in a film this year.  Within no time, she is able to make a name for herself, trade bras for cigarettes, and is able to conduct all of the young prisoners in a would-be comical performance of Madonna’s LIKE A VIRGIN.  Funny, but I never thought that Thai jails could be so much fun.  Geez,  I was seriously groaning and shaking my head at the artificiality and contrivances of these scenes.  Before I knew it, Mark swoops in and saves the day for Bridget, Rebecca’s true motives are revealed (I would use the terms” cop-out” and “forced” to describe them, but that would be uncharacteristically kind).  So, Mark and Bridget get back together, signaling in the end of the movie and, well, you know how the rest ends most likely. 

Hmmmmm…gee diary, THE EDGE OF REASON is a tough film to hate under most circumstances.  I liked a lot of it (Zellweger’s performance is still a delight, even if she comes across more as a broad caricature than a real woman this time), some of the jokes are well placed, especially during one scene where Bridget calls Mark at work to tell him what a great butt he has only to realize that she is on speaker phone and the rest of the foreign dignitaries in his office can hear her.  I especially loved the moment where Mark and Daniel fight it out (again!) over Bridget, and to say that it’s a wonderfully prissy fight would be broad understatement.  I love the way that an actor like Hugh Grant is not afraid of losing any dignity by looking like such a two-faced jerk.  Actually, I think that Firth and Grant steal the show – they are kind of indicative of how well the Brits are at comedy; they don’t work too hard for a laugh when only the slightest verbal or physical gesture or reaction suffices. 

You know diary, in the end, I just can’t wholeheartedly recommend this film as a worthy successor to the brilliantly funny original.  Yes, I laughed during THE EDGE OF REASON, and the characters are as amusing as ever, but the whole film just felt forced on me more than I would have liked it to.  The film also takes awkward and ill-timed excursions into the outlandish and bizarre (Bridget in a Thai jail…c’mon!!??) and the whole story felt like a series of weakly cobbled together comic sight gags and pratfalls that soon began to wear out their welcome.  This new film just lacked the spark, inventiveness, and cleverness of the original, and it seems to make the mistake of allowing viewers to laugh at Bridget instead of with her.  I guess in the end, the sum of its few funny parts do not make a meaningful and worthwhile whole, and the film commits a great sequel sin: it regurgitates elements of the original without going further with them and, most egregiously, just goes for cheap laughs instead of insightful ones.  Oh diary, I love Bridget Jones, but I just did not love THE EDGE OF REASON, as much as I wanted to....

...Oh well, on to the next film.”

  H O M E