Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)

Review

Bridget Jones's Diary

I’m used to the e-mail: You’re not a cheerleader so you shouldn’t review Bring It On! Or If you don’t like boring movies about Iraqi Kurds you shouldn’t review A Time for Drunken Horses! Or If you’ve never heard of Reinaldo Arenas you shouldn’t review a movie about his life (Before Night Falls)!

Sorry, folks, I don’t buy it. Do I need to be shot into space to review Apollo 13? A movie should stand on its own whether you’re familiar with the subject, whether you’re fond of the topic in question, or whether you’re a member of the demographic that the film is about or is targeted at. If it especially appeals to a certain group (and what film doesn’t?), well, good for you. But I’m going to review whatever I want — and if you don’t want to hear what a white guy in his late 20s has to say about cinema, well, that’s just to bad.

So with that lengthy disclaimer understand that this review of the celebrated adaptation of the novel Bridget Jones’s Diary is written by a non-British man who’s never read the book. Deal with it. You’ll also have to forgive me for not writing this review in the ‘v. Bridget’s diary’ style that I guarantee every other one you read will be written in….

The story of Bridget Jones’s Diary tracks our title character during the 32nd year of her life, one dominated by menial work, too much drinking/smoking/eating, and most notably, the lack of a meaningful relationship. Renée Zellweger has clearly and bravely gained the 20 requisite pounds to play the chubby-cheeked Bridget, who repeated resolves to get her life in order — and pretty much mucks it up miserably every time.

Central to her woes are her rakish boss Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) and her childhood friend Mark Darcy (Colin Firth). Oddly, while Bridget professes romantic woes, she soon finds herself with the two men to choose from. Hence the dilemma, and hence the need for a diary.

Hugh Grant’s role as her scoundrel of a boss is quite delicious, showing us some of his inner rogue that was responsible for memorably getting he and Divine Brown together a few years back. The humorless Firth, however, is another matter. Meant to be a rather stiff antithesis to Cleaver’s carefree loony, he comes off as unlovable and never makes a case for why Bridget would genuinely be interested in him. Students of Hollywood won’t find much surprise in the resolution, though, no matter how thick the accents used to mask the movie’s origin.

Fortunately, Bridget Jones elicits a frequent giggle as it sets up jokes and invariably pays them off, relying on Zellweger to deliver a bravely out-there comedic performance, the talent for which she must have picked up during her time as Jim Carrey’s squeeze. She shows up as the only one in a hooker costume at a ‘tarts and vicars’ party. She runs through a snowstorm in leopard-print panties. Nice. Zellweger isn’t afraid to show us her (expanded) skin, and she deserves credit for it. So much so, that I’ll go out on a limb here and predict she’ll win at least one People’s Choice Award next year!

But Bridget Jones isn’t Annie Hall. She’s an archetype for modern singles, sure, but her predicament is somewhat inaccessible while it strives to be universal. Her goofy antics are hilarious slapstick, and I figure that’s all the producers ever intended. And that’s fine with me. Even though I didn’t read the book, it just goes to show that even a v. married Yank can enjoy a little something silly about a troubled, single British gal.

On DVD, Bridgephiles will find even more to like — including a few deleted scenes (more racy wackiness), a commentary from director Maguire (the panties were hers), and a few other odds and ends. Notable is the inclusion of some of Helen Fielding’s original newspaper columns wherein Bridget was first conceived. An altogether v. v. nice package.

The Collector’s Edition DVD adds to the original disc a few more extras, namely a handful of making-of documentaries and the trailer for the film’s sequel.

Z and Bridget Jones.