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Friday Film Review: Bridget Jones’s Diary

Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Grade: B

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.

~Jayne

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

27 Comments

  1. Lobo
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 05:01:59

    The film is so nicely done and does justice to the book and have it’s very own uniqe moments and phrases we can repeat over and over again. If we have a free evening and nothing to watch I do not need to persuade my man to grab Bridget Jones and put it in the player. So even a man can enjoy this film (we even went to the movies together when it first came out and he read the books too)
    And I just cannot believe that Hugh Grant and Colin Firth both are turning 50 in these days.
    I must watch this again this weekend so thanks for the reminer :)

  2. Jayne
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 05:09:07

    @Lobo: Grant’s initial appearance in the film – and the music it’s set to – always cracks me up.

    And the fact that Mark Darcy is willing to wear that jumper his mother gave him (and later on the tie) out in public says a lot about his character.

  3. Mina Kelly
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 05:18:06

    Bridget Jones actually began as a diary series in one of the UK newspaper (I can’t remember which one, but there’s more info in the extras of the UK DVD). The book is very obviously a retelling of Pride & Prejudice, which the film plays down a little.

    I enjoyed the book despite disliking this kind of chick-lit, which ticks so many of my do-not-like boxes (the diary entries demonstrate it perfectly, as her weight as recorded is pretty healthy as it stands). There’s something about having Jane Austen as source material that can lend charm to any adaptation!

  4. Sandy James
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 05:23:28

    I RARELY say this, but I liked this movie so much more than the book! I agree with your assessment, Jayne. Straight down the line. That final exchange of dialogue melts me every time. :)

  5. Marianne McA
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 06:12:21

    @Mina – it was the Independent, I think. I always thought the P&P theme was added by the writers of the screenplay, rather than true to the book.
    I read the books the wrong way round – the second before the first, so that might colour the way I remember them, but I don’t really think there’s a lot of plot in the books: it’s all so episodic – observational comedy rather than coherent narrative.

    Still, I enjoy both books, and this adaption of the first. (Wasn’t a fan of the second film.)

  6. Jayne
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 06:24:30

    @Marianne McA: From the reviews I’ve seen of it, I think I’m going to skip the second film.

  7. Julie L.
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 07:17:10

    I love this film! You’ve made me want to watch it over again this weekend, it’s been a while since I’ve seen it, and I used to watch it over and over again at one point – so many good parts, and yes the music is great! I have the soundtracks and used to listen to them over and over in my car – I know them all by heart. Love Shelby Lynn’s song at the end, and what’s his name’s version of “Have You Met Miss Jones.” I thought the film was very well done and it’s the movie that made me fall for CF, I fell for him as this Mr. Darcy first before seeing the ’95 version of P&P. I agree, that last kiss – yowza! I also love the almost kiss in her apt. as she dodges him to go and get on some “genuinely tiny knickers!” Sigh. I love this movie, one of my favorites!

  8. Jayne
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 07:30:39

    @Julie L.: Listen to the director’s commentary when you watch the film. She discusses how the male crew members didn’t “get” genuinely tiny knickers vs grannie panties and how she had to show them a collection of little silken nothings vs industrial strength cotton numbers before the “aha!” light dawned.

  9. Lexxie Couper
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 07:46:38

    I think this is the perfect time to say (brag?) my husband looks like a Spanish Colin Firth. True story :)

  10. Christine M.
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 07:47:09

    @Julie L.: It’s Robbie Williams who sings that version :)

    Thanks for the review Jayne, I love this film, very much enjoyed the sequel, and loved both books. I can’t believe it’s been that long since it was first released. Also if you ever watch the sequel, one of the moments that always makes me laugh is when Mark asks Daniel to “step outside, please”.

    That and the fact that they fight like girls. *g* (No offense ladies!)

  11. Jayne
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 08:11:30

    @Christine M.: Again with the commentary to the film, the director also thought it would be hilarious for the men to fight so badly complete with “owie” moments.

  12. Kim in Hawaii
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 09:11:43

    This film will always make me laugh! It is especially fun watch for its references to British pop culture! The kicker is, of course, that Colin Firth portrays Mark Darcy – a surname that made him famous in a BBC mini series of Pride and Prejudice. And the book version of Bridget Jones interviews the real actor Colin Firth, so it has to be deleted from the movie.

    I stumbled across the making of Edge of Reason, the follow up book/movie. Colin Firth and Hugh Grant were filming the “fight at the art gallery – stumble into the fountain” scene in Hyde Park. Onlookers were kept at a distance but we could see them complete the scene and jump into the hot tub to keep warm. I wanted to jump into the hot tub with them!

  13. Julia Rachel Barrett
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 09:22:37

    I found the movie entertaining and I felt it broke new ground for women – Renee Zellweger’s character seemed especially real. It’s nice to see an American playing a Brit for once. It’s usually Brits or Aussie’s playing Americans!

  14. Darlynne
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 09:50:49

    I listened to this book on tape way back when, my first venture into audio performances. What a hoot, one I highly recommend for any drive in the car.

  15. Miranda Neville
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 11:49:30

    Loved the book, loved the movie. And in the DVD of one of the two movies they did Renee, as Bridget, interviewing Colin Firth.

    I thought Renee did a great job and got the accent perfectly. My one gripe was that she put on *too much* weight and looked too frumpy. If you read the weights at the beginning of each chapter of the book, Bridget’s not really that heavy, merely not modelishly thin. It’s her own neurosis that she’s huge. (At least, that was my reading).

  16. Susanna Ives
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 14:20:23

    The Diary of Bridget Jones is one of my all-time favorite books. Unfortunately, the movie lacked some of my favorites parts of the book: the daily calorie, alcohol, cigarette, fuckwit count and the drunken diary entries that made no sense. That said, Renee really has great comic flair. One of the things she captured about Bridget Jones was that Bridget had a great sense of fun and doesn’t take herself too seriously. It’s perfect that Colin Firth plays Mark Darcy as the author visualized him from the start. (Even better is the in second book when Bridget interviews Colin Firth…I digress)

    Hugh Grant is such a great cad. I loved him from the moment the elevator opened. His delivery is perfect…especially asking Salman Rushdie where the loo is.

  17. Lynette
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 14:25:59

    I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Bridget Jones’s Diary. I don’t think you’ll miss much by skipping the second movie/book. I personally didn’t like either of them. But loved the first book and the first movie!

  18. Jenny
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 14:34:38

    This is one of my favorites and one of the only movies I actually really like Renee Z…plus how can you resist Colin Firth?

    Here’s Bridget Jones interviewing Colin Firth…makes me laugh every time: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLDzdSZaQ10

  19. Isabel C.
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 14:51:29

    I don’t generally like romantic comedies, but I love BJD. I think it’s because it presents Bridget’s missteps and moments of embarrassment as just that–rather than charming quirks–and as things everyone does on some level.

    People act, and react, like people. Plus, Colin Firth! And the fight scene: hee!

  20. Jayne
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 18:38:26

    @Jenny: LOL, thanks for posting that link. Hilariously funny.

  21. Jayne
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 18:40:33

    @Susanna Ives: “Hugh Grant is such a great cad. I loved him from the moment the elevator opened. His delivery is perfect…especially asking Salman Rushdie where the loo is.”

    That and the naughty limericks while rowing.

  22. Meg
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 23:08:28

    Colin Firth has done a wonderful job at turning playing Darcys into a cottage industry, and I mean that sincerely.

    I think I need to pull this movie out again.

  23. Kim in Hawaii
    Sep 11, 2010 @ 04:35:08

    @Susanna Ives: Regarding Hugh as the cad, that’s just part of the movie’s charm. At that point in his career, Hugh Grant had played the lovable Englishman. He broke his own sterotype in BJD.

    @Jenny: Thanks for the link – I enjoyed watching the clip!

  24. pooks
    Sep 11, 2010 @ 08:23:47

    I, too, loved this book more than the movie. The ending worked better, and the fight scene is brilliant.

    However, you must read the book so that you can read the sequel, which I actually thought was better than the first book. However, the second movie was not; in this case the book was far superior. One notable sequence could not be filmed at all: when Bridget gets an assignment to interview Colin Firth. I laughed until tears rolled down my cheeks.

  25. Julie L
    Sep 11, 2010 @ 08:57:37

    @pooks: I too liked the second book more, it was funnier in many ways, hilarious when she is putting her make up on in the car and winds up putting “whiskers” on her face! I had the tears rolling down my face at that part! As much as I loved book though, the 2nd movie was a huge disappointment!

  26. Susanna Ives
    Sep 11, 2010 @ 14:18:56

    @Kim in Hawaii: That’s right! My favorite Hugh Grant movie is “About the Boy.” In that one, I think he is part cad and lovable Englishman.

  27. Kelly C.
    Sep 11, 2010 @ 15:51:12

    The fight scene was hilarious due to the fact that both Daniel and Mark fought like girls! ;-)

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