Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

Bridget Jones. The Edge of Reason.

I’ll be honest: I don’t like romantic comedies. I hate them. Especially if Richard Curtis has his hand in them. Notting Hill is possibly my most hated film that doesn’t star Meg Ryan. It was with some surprise that after watching the Curtis-penned rom-com Bridget Jones’s Diary (adapted from Helen Fielding’s novel) that I found myself warming to it. True, it had the hallmarks of the CurtisCom: posh people falling in love and/or falling over; posh people saying 'fuck’ a lot for supposed comic effect; a strangely ethnically cleansed London where the only minorities are disabled or gay; a dreadful bland-o-pop soundtrack; Hugh Grant. What raised Bridget Jones’s Diary above the rest of the dross was that Bridget was a character who garnered genuine sympathy from the (let’s be honest, predominantly female) audience. Here was a character who was clumsy, obsessed with her weight, drinks too much, smokes too much. This was a refreshing change from the dearth of squeaky-clean romcoms starring the likes of Sandra Bullock, Kate Hudson and lest we forget, Meg Ryan. You don’t get many anal sex gags in Meg Ryan films, that’s for sure.

It struck a chord with many women while simultaneously enraging some feminist writers who believed that this was a depiction of women that set the women’s movement back 30 years. I personally wouldn’t go that far, the film was a amusing piece of fluff which was notable for an excellent performance from the Texan Rene Zellwegger who made a decent fist of a home counties accent; and the first decent performance from Hugh Grant, who excelled as Cleaver the cad, a refreshing change from his usual stammering, bumbling upper-class-fop shtick.

Three years on we have the sequel, which lazily retreads the same ground as the first film. The problem now is that the jokes have worn very thin – how many more times do we need to see Bridget’s big pants? Is it really necessary for Hugh Grant and Colin Firth to have that slightly effeminate fight again? What passed for a plot in Bridget Jones’s Diary has been substituted for a series of allegedly comedic vignettes – Bridget skydives into pig slurry; Bridget embarrasses herself at a posh do; Bridget goes skiing with “hilarious” results; Bridget gets high on magic mushrooms; and, in an incredibly misguided, unfunny, and slightly racist scene, Bridget is imprisoned in a Thai jail.

As far as the acting goes, this is pretty much the Renee 'n’ Hugh Show as the supporting cast aren’t required to do anything – quality actors like Jim Broadbent and Shirley Henderson (one of the best character actors in Britain today) are completely wasted with about six lines of dialogue between them. Colin Firth has to be one of the dullest, least-sexy and least-charismatic love interests in cinema history and similarly has nothing to do other than have a stiff upper lip. Sally Philips, a comedienne best known for Smack the Pony and I’m Alan Partridge continues her role as Shazzer, a one-dimensional character whose trait is to swear a lot. Note to Richard Curtis: having a character saying 'fuck’ over and over is no substitute for comedy.

In this film Bridget has gone from kooky and insecure to downright annoying and desperate. We are told that she and Mark have been together for about a month and already she’s obsessing about marriage. Maybe the feminist critics had a point after all. As Bridget would say, 'Not v.g.’

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