Bridget Jones’s Diary

Rated: R
Stars: Renée Zelleweger, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth
Director: Sharon Maguire
Screenplay: Helen Fielding, Andrew Davies, Richard Curtis

Charm, delicious wit and a fairy tale ending make for good naughty fun with Bridget Jones’s Diary, a film from the same producers and in the same vein as the smash hit Notting Hill from two years ago.

Based on Helen Fielding’s international best-seller Bridget Jones’s Diary, Renée Zellweger stars in the title role as the adorably chunky heroine with a penchant for alcohol, nicotine and the ability for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Add to that her label as a loser-spinster and you’ve got a good idea of the sad and lonely life Bridget leads while working as a publicist for a London publishing company.

At the start of the new year, 32-year-old Bridget decides it’s time to take control of her life. She vows to begin a diary to keep track of her weight loss and alcohol and nicotine consumption while working on ending her spinster status. And it is that device that allows us to see her progress or lack thereof.

On the frontlines of the manhunt are her charming scoundrel of a boss Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant, always wonderfully effective) and childhood acquaintance Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) who’s now a prominent attorney. It’s a sprouting love relationship with the dashing Daniel and a fairly hateful one with Mark. Every time Bridget makes a public appearance she manages to bump into Mark and make an ass of herself. It’s something at which Bridget is quite adept. But, regardless, she sure knows how to pick herself up and brush off the embarrassment. Resilient is how you’d describe her. Still, there’s something about Mark that interests her. But how does someone as screwed up as poor Bridget manage to land two high caliber men such as Daniel and Mark, in the first place? Only the screenwriters know for sure because in the real world, Bridget’s the type of girl who would live long into spinsterhood and eventually die a horrible death by wild dogs much as she fantasizes for her own end in the film.

Hugh Grant does a marvelous job playing a darker version of his gallant self. He oozes charm in every scene even when he is brushing off Bridget as nothing more than a short-shirted office girl. And Firth is as right as British rain portraying the uptight barrister. But the film owes its wonderful magic to Zellweger, the pouty, pudgy babe who’s not afraid to look at her worst sporting an extra 20 pounds for the part and clothes not even many old women would be comfortable wearing. The only thing I have to admit minding was her abundantly put-on British accent that irked a bit. As for the story – improbable, absolutely, immeasurably funny and quaint, most definitely.

Also features: Jim Broadbent as Papa Jones, Gemma Jones as Mama Jones ((both excellent) and Embeth Davidtz as Natalie, Mark’s finacé.

Reviewed 4/13/01