Main cast: Renée Zellweger (Bridget Jones), Colin Firth (Mark Darcy), Hugh Grant (Daniel Cleaver), Jim Broadbent (Colin Jones), Gemma Jones (Pamela Jones), Celia Imrie (Una Alconbury), and James Faulkner (Uncle Geoffrey)
Director: Sharon Maguire
I actually thought Helen Fielding’s 1997 book of the same name tolerable when it came out. I thought it was a satire on the female magazine/beauty industry’s image of a “modern woman” – man-mad, neurotic, and having a self-esteem so shredded that only by having a full-blown shopping spree every day could her life be complete. Then came the book’s success, and how every female author that emerge from the British pop lit scene is yet another freaking Helen Fielding clone. The whole Bridget Jones phenomena becomes an affirmation of the very image I thought the book intended to skewer, celebrated by the very female magazine and beauty industry as the woman to love and celebrate.
The filmmakers of Bridget Jones’s Diary also, alas, buy the hack theory that women are supposed to aspire to be like Bridget Jones, a woman so desperate to have a man so that she wouldn’t be a spinster like that Glenn Close woman in Fatal Attraction. She is also twenty pounds overweight – trust me, if you think Renée Zellweger is fat in this movie (a term that can only be applied in Hollywood, I tell you), you have no chance. Best eat those chocolates now; you’ll never have a chance to be thin.
Where was I? Oh yeah, this movie. It’s about Bridget who wants her boss Daniel (Hugh Grant looking as if he has been through the paper shredder several times) when the movie keeps throwing Mr Right Mark on her face – and mine – again and again. Girl gets the wrong man, gets treated badly, and runs in her underwear to chase Mr Right, hoping that maybe they can start something good. They’d better, for by then Bridget has been reduced into a complete laughingstock minus dignity and self-esteem.
If this is a satire, it works beautifully. But the moviemakers want me to go, “Yeah, I wanna be just like Bridget Jones – modern and independent and man-mad!” In an attempt to Americanize this movie, much of the cutting wit has been removed and Bridget’s best friends are reduced into mere mirrors of Bridget’s neuroticism. Thus, while the book at least is funny, the movie is not. The horrible sappy soundtrack only reinforces the idea that this movie is koochie-koochie romantic. It only works if people think Ally McBeal is the ideal woman. Me? You see this finger of mine?
Come to think of it, this movie is redundant. There’s Ally McBeal, who is the American Bridget Jones minus the witty British humor. Indeed, this movie, minus the British wry humor, only proves one thing: even when it comes to neuroticism, British do it better. They’re funnier.