Bridget Jones's Diary

Anyone whose response to the casting of Renée Zellweger as the irrepressible and irreducibly British heroine of Helen Fielding's enormously popular Bridget Jones's Diary was knee-jerk negativity followed by a list of actresses who should have had the role owes Miss Zellweger an apology. Armed with a flawless London accent and 20 extra pounds to round out...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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Anyone whose response to the casting of Renée Zellweger as the irrepressible and irreducibly British heroine of Helen Fielding's enormously popular Bridget Jones's Diary was knee-jerk negativity followed by a list of actresses who should have had the role owes Miss Zellweger an apology. Armed with a flawless London accent and 20 extra pounds to round out her frame, Zellweger simply is Bridget, the slightly zaftig, thirtysomething "singleton" with a ticking biological clock and a terrible fear that if she doesn't drop the weight and land a boyfriend soon, she'll die alone and be devoured by ravenous dogs. So with that crucial bit of casting so triumphantly in the bag, why is the movie such a let-down? Maybe because the real pleasure of Bridget Jones is purely a literary one — the naughty fun of paging through a stranger's diary, punctuated by horrifying but hilarious moments of self-recognition. Fielding, who adapted the screenplay with co-writers Andrew Davies and Richard Curtis, tries to hold onto the diary conceit, delivering the action in bite-sized chunks spiced with Bridget's own hard-won wisdom in voiceover. But the plot soon dwindles down to little more than a flimsy, Austen-esque comedy of circumstance: Marriage-minded heroine must choose between dashing bounder (Hugh Grant of SENSE AND SENSIBILITY) and rich but stiff barrister (Colin Firth of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE) — named Mr. Darcy, no less — who appears not to care for said heroine, but is secretly mad about her. The film marks the directing debut of TV producer Sharon Maguire, a friend of Fielding's who served as the model for one of her most caustic characters: Bridget's friend "Shazza," a boozy, outspoken feminist. But Maguire does little with her friend's juicy material: She relies too heavily on a trite soundtrack for emotional uplift ("Ain't No Mountain High Enough"? Please.); where there should be heat, there's a cold, dead space between Zellweger and Firth; that never-ending brawl between Firth and Grant is a terrible idea; and surely Bridget herself would sniff at the film's soppy sentimentality.

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