Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
“What happens after the happy ending?”
This is the musing of one Bridget Jones at the start of the second film bearing her name. It is a ludicrous thought whose obvious answer (“Hopefully not a sequel”) evades the presumed intelligence of Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant and a slew of notable other actors hired by the equally cash-struck Universal Pictures and instead launches us in a tiring, insipid repeat of the chunky girl’s first meanderings out of the barn. “Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason” would be more apropos to its content if the word “Edge” had been replaced by “Devoid.”
In Part Two (dear God, let’s hope there’s not a third), the self-doubting, overly-cute, hyper-sensitive, extraordinarily uncoordinated Bridget (Zellweger) has chosen dull-as-dirt Mark Darcy (Firth) and spurned spicy philanderer Daniel Cleaver (Grant). Predictably, she begins over-analyzing Mark’s every statement, begins careering into embarrassing situations and romantic misunderstandings, and… oh hell. Girl has boy, girl loses boy, girl gets boy. Along the way girl fools around with boy who is actually cute and smart and interesting, but girl is too uptight to date someone who has a fascination quotient larger than his trust fund, and returns to her bland prior convictions. You know, the convictions propagated by movie producers that love is a black-and-white, totally honest, totally vanilla experience. You know, the convictions that movies have been glamorizing for decades. You know, the ones that have romanticized a narrow portrayal of love to the degree that its popularity has subsumed the word’s very definition.
Of course, these are faults carried over from the first film, which deftly swapped depth for hysterical cuteness. Bridget is not a slightly overweight woman who represents an identity coalescing around inner strength; she is merely a rather unintelligent, high-maintenance girl with a penchant for dressing badly and a demeanor that plays shamelessly for masculine strength when her own distrust doesn’t undermine her complete reliance upon it. Is this a reflection of the mainstream of femininity in this country? I certainly hope not, but it might be. Should we be proud that so many women apparently find a voice in this character? They apparently are.
In the interest of not provoking the predictable reaction for millions of “Oprah” fans – since the daytime diva has lauded the film, and as we all know, if Oprah says it, it … must… be … so – we could at least demand one novel thought from the film. But this is a complete contextual rehash of the original, beat for beat. Whereas the first film at least presented a new kind of hero – albeit an unusually flawed one – the second film merely presents the same hero with the same flaws making the same mistakes in the same situations. In the lexicon of the species, we understand that someone who makes mistakes, then learns from them and corrects them, is merely human.
But when she makes all the same mistakes twice? We call her a dumb-ass.