A washed up singer is given a couple days to compose a chart-topping hit for an aspiring teen sensation. Though he's never written a decent lyric in his life, he sparks with an offbeat younger woman with a flair for words.
The story picks up four weeks after the first film, and already Bridget Jones is becoming uncomfortable in her relationship with Mark Darcy. Apart from discovering that he's a conservative voter, she has to deal with a new boss, strange contractor, and the worst vacation of her life. Written by
Starring: Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Jacinda Barrett, Gemma Jones, Jim Broadbent, Sally Phillips, Shirley Henderson
The opening of Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason just looks like it is asking for trouble. The first half hour features lame references to The Sound Of Music and The Spy Who Loved Me, and fails to recapture the magic of its forerunner's opening. Having Bridget sing All By Myself in Bridget Jones's Diary felt genuine; having her recreate THAT parachute dive (with Nobody Does It Better playing in the background) just seems desperate and obvious. But The Edge Of Reason does recover, and, in the end, provides warm enough entertainment.
What problems does Bridget (Renée Zellweger) actually have this time? Well, none. She's happy in her relationship with Mark Darcy (Colin Firth). And that's the problem. Everything is all too right. Several emotions, including jealousy, begin to surface when one of Mark's work colleagues, the exceptionally fit Rebecca (Jacinda Barrett) arrives on the scene. Bridget is also about to find her hands full thanks to the coincidental, but not surprising return of her former boss, Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant).
There's nothing particularly wrong with The Edge Of Reason, it's just missing the spark that nearly lifted our first encounter with Bridget up to the level of maximum marks. Thankfully, no amount of inconsistencies and unlikely happenings, coupled with a preposterous narrative that would make Love Actually seem coherent (Richard Curtis hasn't really learnt anything, has he?) can hide the fact that I left the cinema quite contented.
Renée Zellweger, though not quite as consistent with the accent this time, can play Bridget in her sleep. It's clear the role was made for her, and she doesn't need to do much. Alas, this is also a problem. She no longer has a point to prove, and as a result it looks like she literally IS sleepwalking through the role. It's a complacent performance that screams, "Look, now I've got an Oscar, so I can do this without trying too hard." Her heart just doesn't seem in it.
In fact, "heart" is what this film lacks as a whole. The warm glow of the previous film has been replaced by a decorated sitcom feel, with a fast, frantic pace that moves from one sketch to the next. The likes of Bridget and Mark don't feel real anymore; they're as deep as Bridget's friends, despite the actors' best efforts. The effortless charm of Bridget Jones's Diary is still here, but only in spurts.
What a relief the second half of the film is then. Perhaps this has something to do with the arrival of Hugh Grant, whose comic timing is as immaculate as ever. Just like one of the film's main subplots, his entrance may be incredibly contrived, but it has ENERGY something that is sorely missing from the film's opening half hour. As far as everyone else goes well, Colin Firth is as dependable as ever, but he does nothing to write home about here. But it is good to see Sally Phillips getting more screen time (even though Shirley Henderson and Jim Broadbent are both wasted), and Jacinda Barrett is irresistible in her small role. Rebecca actually hides a little secret that may be offensive to some, but hilarious to others.
I think the problem with The Edge Of Reason lies with Beeban Kidron, the director. Where the original's director, Sharon Maguire, gave us smart, unforced comedy with a feeling of novelty, Kidron piles on the slapstick so heavily to the point where what's on screen is only occasionally funny. I could also add that Kidron has not only added more slapstick to this film, but more product placement. (If Galaxy, Coke and Ben & Jerry's really are the answer to all the world's problems, I suppose it's not hard to see where Bridget gets all her weight from.)
The Edge Of Reason functions perfectly as a romantic comedy matinée, but it's kind of disappointing no, make that sad when a film you thought would be one of the real high points of the year ends up joining the list of disappointments. On this evidence, I can definitely wait for Bridget Jones to write another diary.
Rating: *** (out of *****)
10 of 16 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?