Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Surprisingly I’ve never read the book on which the movie is based and which spawned a whole new literary style. I’ve read plenty of other Chick Lit books and love the genre but, the grandmother of them all is still on my TBR list.
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Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) is a 30-some year old English woman living in London who has a crappy publishing job, a mother (Gemma Jones) who sets her up with losers, a group of 3 best friends with whom she smokes and drinks too much, a bounder boss Daniel (Hugh Grant) who is showing surprising interest in her and a stiff barrister named Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) in her life whom she’s apparently known since she went wading naked in his paddling pool when they were children.
After a disastrous Christmas party at home, Bridget resolves in the coming year to keep a diary, lose weight and find a man. But which man will she pick and will she pick and win the right one by the time the credits roll?
First off for anyone who’s going to try and give me grief about liking American Zellweger in this role may I say: Hugh Laurie in “House,” half the damn actors in “Band of Brothers,” about 1/3 of the actors in “Black Hawk Down,” Russell Crowe in several roles, Guy Pierce in “LA Confidential,” Jason Isaacs in “Brotherhood,” Peter Sellers in “Dr. Strangelove,” and…I could go on and on. So there.
I think the film makers got a great balance between the romance and the comedy throughout the movie. It’s never allowed to get too silly for too long nor is the pathos of Bridget’s drooping bunny ears stretched out. I also applaud director Sharon Maguire’s
decision to keep the movie at a running time of 1 1/2 hours. That’s about as long as a rom-com can keep going.
Bridget is made to look more than slightly foolish in various scenes but that’s the whole premise of the genre and despite how she shows up at the Tarts and Vicars party or the blue soup she serves on her birthday or what she overhears Mark tell his mother while he’s wearing that awful reindeer jumper, she always keeps her head up high and has a quip for the snotty, smug married couples dinner party.
Zellweger becomes Bridget and embraced the role enough to be proud of the cellulite, which she put on for her part, that jiggles and oozes through her fishnet stockings. Colin Firth channels Mr. Darcy in his initial disdainful comments about Bridget and his later bumbling attempts to convey to her how his feelings have changed. Hugh Grant is such a sleazy cad with a partiality for naughty limericks, while Gemma Jones and Jim Broadbent shine as Bridget’s parents who undergo their own marital trial by fire. I wish there had been more time and space in the film for the three friends played by Shirley Henderson, James Callis and Sally Phillips but they grab attention in all the scenes they’re in.
And I could go on about my favorite scenes in the film. The blue soup, the tiny knickers vs the granny panties, Bridget’s “take this job and shove it,” Bridget sliding down the fire pole, sliding around on snow covered streets on the way to the Darcy’s party and of course the “raining men” fight scene (It’s a real fight!) that takes over the Greek restaurant. I laugh out loud at Darcy and Daniel for apologizing for smashing up people’s dinners, halting to sing happy birthday then flying through the plate glass window. It also sets up a lovely epiphany for Bridget as to which man she can do without in her life.
As the movie progresses, Bridget gains in self confidence and learns from her mistakes otherwise the whole thing would lose half it’s meaning and be only a shallow bit of fluff. She finds the man who loves her “just as she is” and though we have to wait an hour and a half for the payoff kiss, when it arrives, it’s a wowzer! Plus Mark’s last bit of dialogue shows he isn’t the stuffy, sexually repressed Englishman he might appear to be. Oh, and I love the music used throughout the film. B
Bridget: Wait a minute… nice boys don’t kiss like that.
Mark Darcy: Oh, yes, they fucking do.