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Bridget Jonesís Diary (Collector's Edition) Print E-mail
Tuesday, 09 November 2004

Bridget Jones’s Diary (Collector's Edition)

Miramax Home Entertainment
MPAA rating: R
starring: Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant
film release year: 2001
DVD release year: 2004
film rating: Four Stars
sound/picture: Four Stars
reviewed by: Dan MacIntosh

Don’t let Renee Zellweger’s Texas upbringing deter you, because she is perfectly cast in “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” a silly film about the dating ups and downs of a single British woman. After a while, in fact, it’s nearly impossible to think about the character Bridget Jones, and all her trials and troubles, without also picturing this particular actress’s face front and center in the mind’s eye. And since Zellweger is thankfully not just another pretty Hollywood face, she is able to naturally bring out all the contradictory insecurities of the single life through her performance. Much of the time, “Bridget Jones’s Diary” plays out just like an actual woman’s diary, with its inherent soap opera-like wild mood swings from day to day. But no matter what happens to Ms. Jones, and no matter how deep a hole she digs for herself, the audience cannot help but pull for her and side with her in nearly every argument or conflict. That’s because Zellweger makes her just so darn likeable and knockdown funny.

As the story goes, Bridget Jones is desperately seeking companionship. This tangible desperation leads her right into the oncoming paths of two seemingly inept, semi-available males. One is Daniel Cleaver, who is quite appropriately named, since Jones needs multiple bandages to help heal the wounds he leaves on her. Played by the permanently grinning Hugh Grant, Cleaver is Jones’s philandering publishing house boss at a workplace where she unenthusiastically toils as a publicist. Both Cleaver and Jones break the longstanding taboo about keeping work and romance separate by establishing a sexual relationship.

It’s during this couple’s first brief vacation together that Zellweger has one of her funniest scenes in the film. It’s a sight gag, granted, but a darn good one. After her scarf flies off during the top-down sports car drive to their destination, Zellweger can be heard in a voiceover bragging about how this trip is her glamorous Grace Kelly moment. But when the scene cuts to the couple checking in at the hotel, it’s obvious that Jones did not end up with anything close to a beatific, wind-blown look. Instead, she walks through the lobby oblivious to her disastrously bad hair moment. The contrast between her obliviousness and that furry-looking head is priceless.

This hairy scene is played out before the introduction of Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), an old childhood friend of Jones’s who is coincidentally staying at the very same hotel and eventually becomes Jones’s other love interest. For about the first half of the film, Jones engages in nothing but embarrassing encounters with Darcy. These situations range from an awkward moment at one of her mom’s Christmas parties to an equally uncomfortable meeting at a book release function. But these embarrassments don’t seem to even bother her since she already feels like Darcy thinks her the fool. Secretly, though, he is actually falling in love with her.

Although Jones has two love interests in this film, this is by no means another one of those “torn between two lovers” chick films. Instead, it has much more to do with Jones and her undying quest to find personal fulfillment. The title of the film comes from Jones’s obsession with her personal diary. So Jones’s constant voiceovers during the movie, naturally, come out like daily diary entries. This way, you not only meet the various people in Jones’s life, but you also hear exactly how she feels about each of them.

For example, Jones’s matchmaking mother (Gemma Jones) is oftentimes a human object of confusion to Jones. Although she dearly loves her mum, she doesn’t always appreciate the men mom endlessly tries to bring into her life. When her mum has an affair with a TV informercial host, even co-hosting his TV sales program with him, such bizarre circumstances extend far beyond Jones’s comprehension. Perhaps she has so much trouble with this phony new man in her mom’s life because her dad (Jim Broadbent) is such a true-blue and loveable character, undeserving of such betrayal.

Just as men are a bit of a mystery to Jones, her career is equally an enigma. When our story begins, she’s obviously a real go-getter as a publicist, she neither appreciates nor understands the fiction works she’s paid to promote. This naiveté is brought to the fore when she runs into the famous author Salmon Rushdie (playing himself) at a book release party; since she cannot think of even one intelligent topic to discuss with him, she asks him for directions to the bathrooms, instead.

After her affair with her boss Cleaver ends, Jones must obviously either find a new place of employment, or a different career track altogether. She goes for the second of these two options by trying her hand at television reporting. After many failed job interview attempts, she winds up as a field reporter on a morning chat show. It is while on this new job that she is unflatteringly filmed – from the bottom looking up -- sliding down a firehouse pole, where her backside is almost fully exposed to the TV-watching public. It makes her the laughingstock of the nation, which causes her to strongly question this second career move.

Whenever Jones fails at something -- relationship or other -- she finds herself questioning all of her personal behaviors. For instance, her diary constantly monitors her diet, alcohol and tobacco usage, and exercise regiment. She is – like all of us -- engaged in continual war against a culture that makes people feel guilty for not being completely happy and fulfilled, both at work and at home. It’s a culture which suggests that if people would only exercise more, quit their bad habits, eat right, land that dream job and met Mr. or Ms. Right, they’d be truly happy. But as Jones exemplifies throughout the film, getting an “A” for effort doesn’t automatically lead to winning the happiness prize. Sometimes the harder we try to get ahead, the further behind we become. And it just makes you just want to give up sometimes.

The pat answer is that we should all just try and be content with the hand that life has dealt us. But that game analogy is a whole lot easier said than done, and “Bridget Jones’s Diary” proves this point with hilarious results.

This DVD includes a few choice bonus features as well, such as one called “The Young And the Mateless,” which explores the modern-day dating scene in some depth, balancing the film’s comedic take on the singles scene with a slightly more serious short documentary about troubles associated with singlehood.

The hazardous world of dating will always be with us, which makes it an excellent comedic breeding ground. But since “Bridget Jones’s Diary” takes place in England, this film gives the topic a whole new spin. It’s a little bit like that old TV series, “Love American Style,” only with a brash British accent.

more details
sound format:
English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
aspect ratio(s): 1.85:1, Enhanced for 16x9 Televisions
special features: The Bridget Phenomenon; The Young And The Mateless; Portrait Of The Makeup Artist; Domestic And International TV Spots: Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason Theatrical Trailer; Bridget Jones’s Diary Reviews; A Guide To Bridget Britishisms; Feature Commentary With Director Sharon Maguire; Behind-The-Scenes Featurette; Deleted Scenes; Over 100 Original Bridget Jones’s Diary Columns
comments: email us here...
reference system
DVD player: Kenwood DV-403
receiver: Kenwood VR-407
main speakers: Paradigm Atom
center speaker: Paradigm CC-170
rear speakers: Paradigm ADP-70
subwoofer: Paradigm PDR-10
monitor: 43” Sony KP-43HT20

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