No, this movie doesn’t hold a candle to Sharon Maguire’s Bridget Jones’s Diary. Did anyone honestly think it would? But neither is this sequel the atrocity so many seem to want to brand it as.
It seems that too many people are going into Edge of Reason quite determined to hate it and tear into its inferiority. Why? Perhaps some folks just resented the fact that they were unable to dislike a — heaven forbid — romantic comedy the first time around and were waiting to get even.
The sequel definitely lacks the element of surprise that made the first film such a delight, and it tries much too hard to duplicate the first film rather than extend it. The results feel a little too much like the movie version of a “greatest hits” package — only with the originals replaced by engaging but uninspired cover versions of all the songs.
The real problem may be that there’s simply nothing more to Bridget’s story — at least nothing terribly interesting. Bridget (Zellweger) is fun when she’s dueling with the caddish Cleaver (Grant), and she’s appealing when she’s awkwardly chasing after the dullish Darcy (Firth), but once she and Darcy get together, his innate dullness affords little in the way of opportunity for laughs or much of anything else.
What worked about Darcy in the original — what seemed so fresh — was that it came as a genuinely blissful moment when this guy with a stick the size of Nelson’s Column up his backside told gawky, klutzy Bridget that he truly liked her just the way she was. The problem is, this deliriously romantic bit only works once. With Bridget and Darcy in happily-ever-after mode, you’d have one pretty deadly movie.
So what to do? Well, of course, you could have Bridget put Darcy’s claim to like her just the way she is to the test. And that’s what this sequel does — a lot. In fact, the movie does it too much, portraying Bridget as less of a social disaster than a woman who’s clingy to the point of codependence. Bridget calling up and embarrassing Darcy is funny when it happens once. Bridget being unable to keep from calling him every five minutes is not.
Because of the theme’s limited mileage, it proves necessary to reintroduce Cleaver. But there’s no logical way to bring Bridget and Cleaver back together, so the film neatly pretends he’s no longer a high-powered publisher and mystifyingly gives him a job hosting lecherous-minded TV travelogues. The switch isn’t bad (“New York, the city that never sleeps — with the same person twice.”), but it doesn’t make a lot of sense, except for the fact that it’ll put him in contact with TV journalist Bridget. (Now, if the film had the wit — or the temerity — to examine whether Cleaver really wants to “shag” Bridget so much as he wants to sleep with Darcy’s wife/girlfriend a second time, it might have been onto something.)
Edge of Reason is consistently amusing, even if it’s rarely hysterically funny. However, the brilliantly applied pop-music soundtrack of the original seems too contrived in the sequel. While in the first film, Zellweger was famously largish but still very attractive, this time she often looks downright frumpy (mostly blame the costume designer). And this time, both Bridget’s friends and her parents seem a little minimized, though the ever-reliable Jim Broadbent, who plays her dad, gets the movie’s best line (a line that warmed the heart of this nicotine addict). A sequence in a Thai prison is a bit awkward and has been much-criticized, but I hardly think it merits the socially-conscious lambasting it’s received.
Director Beeban Kidron lacks the precision of Sharon Maguire, but she does pull off one absolutely marvelous shot that travels from Bridget’s window across the London skyline and down into Darcy walking along the street. It’s a little bit of magic in a film that could have used a good bit more. This sequel’s entertaining enough, but unlike the original, it’s not likely to make too many 10-best lists.
– reviewed by Ken Hanke