Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason

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Bridget Jones 2 – A sequel beyond reason?

Nov 10, 2004 (Updated Nov 12, 2004)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Hopefully after this they’ll never get funding to make ‘Bridget Jones 3: Beyond all hope’

Cons:How not to make a sequel. Poor script, weak plot, thin characters (except our Bridget…)

The Bottom Line: A poor attempt to reproduce the same charm, humour and sentiment as the first film. Low on ideas, cliche-strewn and derivative. Avoid where possible!

‘Bridget’s back.. bigger, better, funnier’. Well, that’s what the trailers promised us. And I’d agree in part. The namely ‘bigger’ part.

As we join our love struck heroine she is still more or less where we left her – in the well toned arms of her darkly hansom hero. It’s about six weeks on from when we last left them in snow fallen bliss on the streets of London, Mr. Darcy, looking as devastatingly hansom as ever is asleep in Bridget’s bed, and Bridget, well, let’s just say she’s obviously been very ‘content’ over the last month, and has become estranged from her old friends the bathroom scales. Basically, she’s let herself go a bit. Mark hasn’t seemed to notice, but then he wouldn’t would he, being the perfect man and all. So Bridget seems to have it made, all she has to do is ‘not screw it up’ have a few dippy adventures and we can all go home with that warm festive glow in our hearts.

Clearly, it was never going to be that easy.

In my opinion, it’s never a good idea to start a film at the end, even if it’s the end of the last film, because invariably you have to go back to some sort of beginning, ie, disrupt paradise, so that you can eventually reach the end again (still with me?). You gotta loose paradise before you can find it again. And audiences don’t tend to like having their emotional equilibrium disrupted too often, so there’d better be a good reason for loosing this paradise which we all so eagerly willed you to win Ms Jones…

But that’s another trouble when you start with the perfect picture, just how do you mess it up? A plane crash? A terminal illness? The onset of Armageddon? No need my friends:

Queue Bridget, and her unwaveringly determined, almost clinical neurosis.

You see our narrator has become so embroiled in a life of constant uncertainty, hang-ups, insecurity and the sneaking suspicion that she’s really a bit too ‘normal’ to end up truly happy – that when she finds herself in the arms of the very epitome of happiness, she doesn’t know what to do. She’s so used to being neurotic, that the absence of any tangible cause for neurosis becomes, in itself an area of uncertainty, doubt, insecurity and fear. So much so that eventually the absence of a neurosis becomes it’s own twisted neurosis which manifests itself in her paranoid and irrational behavior towards a man who has shown her nothing but affection, love and loyalty. Bridget projects her expectation of disaster in such a way as it affects her actions and becomes her reality.

In short, she screws it up and drives away the only good thing that has happened to her in her short, podgy, calamity-stricken life.

Go Bridget.

And herein lies my first problem. It’s hard to have sympathy with the central character, when the first thing she does is ruin her own life. And if we don’t have sympathy for her cause, then it’s hard to root for her in the final scenes when she’s trying to regain the love she carelessly lost in the opening scenes. And that in turn removes most of the dramatic potential of the film, and to be honest, there wasn’t a lot to begin with.

To make matters worse, the director appears to have made the fatal assumption that because the vast majority of the audience will watch this film already holding a fair amount of nostalgic affection for our troubled heroine, he therefore needs to make no effort whatsoever to maintain, develop or build on this past relationship, and relies entirely on the characterization in the first film to get his poor protagonists through this shoddy ensemble of gags and trite romance.

All the quaint charm which followed the bumbling Bridget through her various misadventures with men and dating in the first film is instantly lost, and never regained. There was always the danger in the first film, that Bridget Jones would simply come across as being a bit stupid and a bit fat. And that’s why it worked, there was the constant tension that the audience may not fall in love with her straight away, and neither will her man. We willed her to succeed because she reminded us a bit of ourselves, well meaning but decidedly ‘normal’ and not the sort of people who are likely to ‘live happily ever after with Prince (or princess) Charming’. We laughed at her endeavors and cried at her heartbreak and walked away thinking, ‘maybe I won’t start that zero tolerance no calorie diet just yet’.. but now it’s the second film, she’s got her man, he’s in love with her, and the director assumes that we will fall willfully in love with her all over again.

Not so fast.

In the original movie Bridget was a little on the plump side, yet still decidedly cute and prone to spells of endearing ‘dippiness’. For the sequel, some misguided soul obviously reasoned “if we make her more dippy and slightly plumper the audiences will love her even more!”. Alas not. You simply can’t progress from plump to fat and dippsy to stupid and expect an increase in affection. My reaction to this incarnation of overweight neurotic idiocy would be a quick slap and the sharp instruction to ‘Pull yourself together woman!’.

Oooh how wildly un-PC……!

Don’t get me wrong here, I wanted to like her, really I did, but in the end she never managed to shake off that first impression, that she was, in all brutal honesty, just a bit stupid and fat. Now not that there’s anything wrong with being either, or both of those things (so you can put away your lynches) it’s just that, if they’re the core attributes of your character, I don’t really want to sit and watch you ponse about making a complete tit of yourself for an hour and half, and I’m not likely to believe that you’re going to ‘get the guy’ at the end of the film, or particularly want you to. And before I’m trampled beneath a stampeding mass of pro-feminist fury… my fiancee also said she looked ‘a bit too fat’ and that it ‘really didn’t suit her’ adding that ‘no one enjoys seeing someone they like let themselves go’….. so there.

And our leading lady really doesn’t do much to get beyond that first impression. On the whole there is very little in the way of character development throughout the entire film. In fact I’d almost go so far as to say that we actually see some ‘character regression’ in the film. Meaning that developments that appear to have been made in the first film are rapidly undone in the sequel, making you wonder if they ever actually happened.

And it’s not even as if there’s much of a plot to prop up this flailing female as she crashes from one self-made catastrophe to the next. At one point in the film it does seem as though the plot has taken an interesting and unexpected twist. Our Bridget ends up in a bit of a sticky situation and suddenly the dramatic potential of the plot increases tenfold. Is this the turning point? Is this the moment of revelation where Bridget Jones finally discovers a bit of backbone and makes a decent character of herself? Surely she can’t slip into tacky stereotypes and wishy washy, trite, self indulgent monologues here? You’d think so huh? Uh uh… this girl is uncannily adept at remaining shallow and superficial in the most dire of circumstances. Quite a gift, but extremely frustrating for the viewer. The scriptwriter and the director manage to turn the most potentially interesting, revealing and insightful moment of the film into a shambolic display of misjudged humour and blatant product placement for a chocolate bar which just happens to be sponsoring the film! But I won’t spoil the moment, I’ll let the film do that for you.

As for the rest of the unfortunate cast, Collin Firth seems to be squirming with embarrassment throughout most of the film, delivering his lines in a reluctant, almost sheepish manner, as if resentful of having to play such a poor caricature of his otherwise natural talents.

Hugh Grant is playfully revisiting his previous, villainous self, and does provide some much needed distraction from the dire state of affairs which is Bridget’s life, for at least a few minutes. Is he a changed man? Not bloody likely, and he doesn’t even make much of an effort to convince us of his feigned ‘reformation’ before he gleefully slips back into infamous womanizing. Entertaining but underused and a shadow of the menace he was in the first film. The only real moment of genuine, laugh out loud fun comes when Grant and Firth engage in a wonderfully girly catfight outside a London gallery. And this is where the film has a glimmer of it’s former glory, in it’s close observation of the inherent funniness of real life. That’s probably how two rather clueless men would really fight if they found themselves in that situation, and it’s this slapstick reality check that wins the audiences favour so quickly. Bridget herself was the main exponent of this in the first film, but sadly she fails to recreate that endearing ‘everywoman’ feel about her character this time round.

Bridget’s friends don't amount to more than a poor parody of well worn cliche too. In this film they provide little else then scene-filler and, occasionally a convenient way to advance the plot (not that it particularly has anywhere to go). As three dimensional as a cardboard cut out they persist in filling Bridget’s already troubled mind with the stupidest ideas, getting her into all sorts of trouble, but because they can all have a giggle about it later over a glass of champers they’re all bosom buddies? With friends like these who needs Daniel Cleavers?

And then there’s the painfully inevitable penultimate ‘dash in taxi to confess repressed love to estranged lover in embarrassing public setting’ scene which is so contrived, so overdone, so hackneyed as to almost be ironic.

What is it about British romcoms? Why are we so obsessed with rushing round London in taxi’s in the rain after our jilted lovers? Why the public declarations? Is it because it taps into the deepest fear in the heart of every Brit that one day we might be called upon to express our hearts desire in front of a crowded room full of important people? (Richard Curtis - you have a lot to answer for!) Either way, it’s now about as original as busting into a wedding and screaming ‘I love you’ from the balcony at the pivotal moment of the service.

The soundtrack is not just overbearing, it’s haphazardly arranged, often distracting and has all the subtlety of an F15 fighter jet. From the word go it was clear that the chief aim of the soundtrack was the money that could be made from the CD release (and I’m sure they’ve squeezed enough scraps in there to flog a second CD ‘Yet more songs from Bridget Jones 2’) – the film its littered with snippets of soul classics, and when I say littered, I mean littered in the annoying, messing up the general scenery sense. It’s as though they approached the film with a playlist and simply said ‘right, where can we fit all these in?’ and the answer, sadly, is just about anywhere, regardless of context or suitability, the end result looking and sounding more like ‘the film of the soundtrack’.

And if all that’s not quite bad enough, the film’s not even particularly well made. There’s a lot of shoddy camerawork, poor editing and a general lack of inspiration evident in the choice of sets and scenery. I know that Bridget is supposed to work for a low quality documentary TV channel, but there was no need to imitate the same lack of quality in the entire film. It felt as though the budget was cut dramatically before the first week of filming, and as a result they tried to do ambitious things without the resources and the end product is distinctly amateur. Another indication that this is a ‘sequel by numbers’ affair with little or no independent artistic integrity.

If you want a heartwarming chuckle this Christmas, watch the first film again!

Essentially this film is little more than stocking filler – it’ll keep you mildly amused for a while, but like a revolving novelty toothbrush, you’d be gutted if it was all you got this Christmas.

Recommend this product? No

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