- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 11, 2004

“Bridget Jones’s Diary” merited a sequel for two pretty solid reasons. The author of the source material, Helen Fielding, wrote one, and even if she hadn’t, you could never be sure our sassy London lass would live happily ever after.

It’s in Bridget’s nature to bollix things up, and in “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason,” she tries, in her nobly neurotic way, to do just that, with a little help from her best girlfriend and…Thai customs agents.

TV director Beeban Kidron assumed the reins from Sharon Maguire for this half-satisfying follow-up. “The Edge of Reason” is all too content to carbon-copy “Diary’s” punch lines. That doesn’t mean they’re not still funny — what would a “Bridget Jones” sequel be without a knock-down, drag-out between Colin Firth and Hugh Grant? — but “Reason” needed a larger dose of originality.

The 2001 original, which cleverly brought to life the book’s catty interior humor, left things with boring barrister Mark Darcy (Mr. Firth) winning Bridget’s love from Mr. Grant’s wily sleaze, TV journalist Daniel Cleaver. Here, weeks later, Bridget (played once again by a slightly puffy Renee Zellweger) is going steady with Darcy.

Things are going jolly well for Bridge. Disaster must not be far behind.

Darcy is forgivingly in love with the same Jonesian foibles we love: class anxiety, ease with trash culture, awkwardness at dinner parties and a severe case of foot-in-mouth disease. Wealthy, handsome and successful in a guilt-free field — he’s a human rights lawyer, for crying out loud — Darcy is what every English, for that matter, every American, girl dreams of marrying.

Yet he’s got a common man-problem: marriage phobia. On a Continental ski vacation gone wrong, an impatient, proposal-fishing Bridge springs it on Darcy that she may be pregnant, and, in one nervous smile, Mr. Firth nails the twin emotions of his character’s response: surprise and relief. He’s potentially off the hook from making the big decision. However, the test comes up negative, so we’re back to the noncommittal do-si-do of modern couplehood.

Betrayals to watch out for: A certain smashing brunette, Rebecca (Jacinda Barrett), may be in Darcy’s picture. And Cleaver may be, if not back in Bridget’s picture, then just outside the frame.

Cleaver is somewhere north of Alfie on the cad meter and zeroes in on Bridget when she’s most vulnerable, offering her a slot for his TV travelogue in Bangkok when things go sour with Darcy. Mr. Grant oozes a sexy intelligence, and it’s easy to see how a woman who should know better might nonetheless fall into his trap.

Unfortunately, “Reason” is robotic in the way it moves from one set piece to another, from a black-tie gala on the Thames to umbrella drinks and mushroom highs on the Chao Phraya. Each new locale is eye candy for talky scenes that could take place anywhere and nowhere.

Still, Miss Zellweger is as likable as she was in the first and for the same reason. We all know a Bridget Jones: the not particularly brilliant metro-30-something who is fun at happy hour and whose professional stagnation can’t be blamed on the glass ceiling.

With her uncanny faculty for knowing the wrong thing to say, you’d feel a little sorry for Bridget Jones — if you weren’t so busy laughing at her.


TITLE: “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason”

RATING: R (Profanity; sexual content)

CREDITS: Directed by Beeban Kidron. Produced by Tim Bevan, Jonathan Cavendish and Eric Fellner. Written by Andrew Davies, Helen Fielding, Richard Curtis and Adam Brooks, based on Miss Fielding’s novel. Cinematography by Adrian Biddle. Original music by Harry Gregson-Williams.

RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes.


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