Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (6/10)

by Tony Medley

Bridget (Renée Zellweger) finally has a boy friend, the stiff, ever so perfect Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), an upper class human rights attorney, even if he does act as if he has a corncob up his rear end all the time. She’s also got a job as a TV journalist for an unsympathetic boss, Richard Finch (Neil Pearson). True to form, Richard pairs her up with her old nemesis, Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant).

Things don’t go smoothly with Mark or Daniel. The film has some terrific locations, like Tower Bridge, Oxford and Regent Streets, Piccadilly, The Temple (when I practiced law in London, my offices were in the Middle Temple), Chiswick, Hyde Park, the Austrian Tyrol, and many locations in Thailand, including the idyllic beach resort of Phuket, the 200-year –old Muslim village-on-stilts at Ko Panyee, the ancient Buddhist shrine at Nakornpathom, and an open-air Bangkok market.

Even though it was enjoyable, there are big holes in it. Zellweger, Firth, and Grant are very good, especially Grant. But there were some scenes that I found disappointing. After a very good start, one scene caused it to lose all the momentum it had gained in the first 35 minutes and crash precipitously. Bridget has a fight with Mark and storms back home. Upon arrival she has regrets, so telephones Mark. Mark’s not there so his answering machine picks up. As she’s leaving a message, her doorbell rings, and it’s Mark! Instead of letting him in, she tells him to hold on and goes back to her telephone to continue leaving a long message for him. While it’s true that Bridget is a klutz, when you see a scene like this, which is so divorced from reality, you wonder how any reasonable filmmaker could put it in a film. It took awhile before Daniel Cleaver enters the film in a substantial role and gets it back on track.

Another unbelievable scene occurs at the Austrian ski resort where Bridget is at a pharmacy asking for a pregnancy test. Nobody speaks English. Maybe this might have occurred in the ‘40s, but when I was doing a lot of traveling in Europe in the ‘60s (40 years ago for those of you who are a little weak in the math department), almost everyone spoke English, especially in an International resort. While it’s true that in France they might have pretended they didn’t understand you, elsewhere it was no problem. I find it hard to believe that Europe has regressed in 40 years to where nobody would speak English in an International ski resort.

Finally, there’s absolutely nothing that would lead anyone to believe that Bridget and Mark have anything in common. She has no clue how to act in high society, which is where Mark cavorts. They are miles apart intellectually. He’s sophisticated, she’s not. He’s handsome, fashion-conscious, and dashing; she’s fat, dumpy, dresses like a dope, and is relatively unattractive. There is nothing shown in the film why he would be attracted to her or why she would enjoy his company and vice-versa.

Grant is very good and so are Zellweger and Firth. Zellweger gained so much weight for the film that she ballooned from a size 6 to a size 14. She did most of her own stunts, including hanging from a parachute harness for much of a day, wallowing in mud with pigs, performing a vamping Madonna in a jail, and waddling across the room in a gold lame dress that restricts all hip movement.

A little trivia for you buffs is that the name of Firth’s character, Mark Darcy, is the name of the character he played in Pride and Prejudice, a 1995 miniseries. The fight scene between Firth and Grant was entirely ad-lib. Says Firth, “We made the decision right away this time not to stage anything. We simply showed up that morning and started pulling each other’s hair, kicking at one another, flailing about and complaining, and it all came completely naturally to me.”

Apparently the making of this film was not an enjoyable experience for anyone. Zellweger has said she wants time off and has nothing scheduled for the foreseeable future, after her appearance in Ron Howard’s The Cinderella Man due in theaters next June. Grant says he may never act again, and Firth says he has no intention of ever appearing in another Bridget Jones movie.

Despite that, If you can forget that in real life Mark and Bridget would probably never even talk to one another, much less become romantically involved, I thought the film was sometimes humorous and mildly entertaining.

November 10, 2004

The End