|Filled with an equal amount of neuroticism as the first episode, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason is a sequel that is usually worthy of its adoring fans, though the film is missing a small amount of the innocent glee Diary projected with such ease. Boasting an identical cast as the first film, Reason is the lucky recipient of more comedic talent than any one film deserves. A vivid example of the desperation single women in their early thirties are seemingly forced to exhibit, Renee Zellweger fills Bridget's shoes with a natural non-grace for a second welcome time.|
Although she is burdened by a sometimes less than sparkling script, Renee is still able to infuse her character with an easy charm that should appeal to most audiences. In the comically demanding roles of her combative lovers, Hugh Grant (playing Daniel Cleaver) and Colin Firth (playing Fitzwilliam Darcy) once again come to fisticuffs over Bridget and like Diary, they perform beautifully in their noodling hand-to-hand combat. The film also boasts several other hilariously worthy performances, with Gemma Jones, playing Bridget's mother, "mum," with as much or more enthusiasm than any actor in the film.
Again in the role of Bridget's dad, Jim Broadbent also gives the talent factor of the film an impressive boost, as does Jacinda Barrett, who plays Colin Firth's beautiful assistant, “Rebecca,” who frequently gives Bridget heartburn over her boyfriend's fidelity. A large part of the success of the Bridget films is their casting. While the script of the first film was more cheeky than Reason, the filmmakers have used the same basic formula for this movie, simply pushing it into a more kinetic fervor in order to "up the ante."
While some films quickly wear out in unneeded sequels, the story of Bridget Jones still has charm and hilarity in it that bears seeing up on the big screen. An impressive amount of the wit and charm of Helen Fielding's novels has survived intact in these feature film adaptations of her novels and though some of that success should sit at the screenwriters’ door, Renee Zellweger is nothing less than an inspired choice for the role of Bridget (and one must question the need for four credited screenwriters on this film). If not for her hilarious yet vulnerable portrayal of the British "singleton," the first Bridget movie would not hold up so well under repeated viewings (not only a hit in theaters, the first film also had a healthy rental shelf life).
It's doubtful Reason will enjoy the same sort of runaway success that the first film garnered and fans of the first film will probably find the most value in viewing the movie on the big screen. As far as raking in new viewers to the series, it might bode well for potential audience members to watch the first film before falling into Reason. A lot of the already established relationships are not explained at length in the movie and without that prior knowledge of characters' relationships, some of the jokes and innuendo might pass by without a laugh.
But not all of the laughter in the film comes from what the characters say. A lot of it comes from what they do. Especially when they fight. The ear tugging, face slapping, and generally sloppy fight between Grant and Firth's characters in the first film was a scene destined for greatness as soon as it was filmed. In Reason, the two again come to blows over Bridget and the scene is just as much a delight as its predecessor. Seeing two actors who have made portraying the staid English gentleman into a career slap each other around with the finesse of a couple of twelve-year-olds bears repeated viewing.
Bridget Jones herself also deserves some credit for raising the bar for physical comedy. Whether she is tumbling down a ski slope at breakneck speed, is finding herself drenched by a cascade of puddle water thrown from the wheels of a passing vehicle or wobbling along the beach in a drug induced stupor, Renee Zellweger is not afraid to throw herself completely into the trips, falls, and foibles of portraying her character. This willingness to make a buffoon out of herself combined with her affability and charm regarding the dialogue allows her to completely embody the crazed woman.
The one thing that Reason falls short on is the "fresh" factor. Taking the same formula for a formulaic redux is a difficult (though depressingly common) task for the filmmakers of Hollywood driven sequels and it's only because the overall formula is such a giddy one that this film has sturdy legs. There are instances when a film's formula can be its downfall, but there are also times when that formula will work time and time again if its execution is kept tight and exciting. The makers of this movie have certainly put great effort into making an engaging and diverting film and despite some shortcomings in some snippets of dialogue that don't quite squarely hit the mark, the movie can be considered a worthy sequel.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.