Sequels to any movies come with a host of problems to overcome but these are particularly tricky and unique when the first film was a romantic-comedy. Most romantic comedies end in “happy-ever-after” and the idea of finding out what happens next isn’t a new one but still feels quite novel. In this case, what happens when Bridget Jones finally gets her Mr Darcy? Unfortunately, it seems, artificial drama.
The first film worked because behind the slapstick, embarrassing moments and hopelessness was a person you could actually believe in and genuinely root for. Of course, Renee Zellweger has brought the same Bridget back but here her actions make her less like-able and in some cases infuriating.
This is because happiness doesn’t equal good drama. Conflict is needed in any story to make it compelling so to add some sort of tale to the Bridget Jones sequel, the writers had to break-up the happy-ever-after the first movie gave us. Unfortunately, in doing that we get the worst, most contrived and pathetic break-up ever, making the drama cheap and Bridget seem ridiculous.
The saving grace would have to be the comedy. Bridget Jones’ Diary was a funny movie, with Zellweger at the effective center of each slapstick scene. Luckily, aspects of that return but only when done in a plausible way. Bridget messing up a high-end “pub-quiz” or trying helplessly to get the right outfit with the help of a kind taxi-driver are great, realistic and relate-able scenes. The character being arrested and sent to a Taiwanese prison lacks the realism which made the original character work so well.
That is the issue with the sequel though. Sequels feel the need to build and get bigger, especially when the ingredients of the first film worked so well. That means we get random repeats of scenes from the first movie, almost pigeon-holed in for nostalgia’s sake. We get Bridget landing on her bum directly to camera, Jones ranting about a character while they are in ear-shot and another pathetic man-fight between Hugh Grant and Colin Firth.
Fortunately, Hugh Grant is a welcome return, even if this feels random as well. He is great as the “villain” and plays slimy better than most. Firth unfortunately gets little to do than look disapprovingly for most of the movie’s run-time.
Another welcome return from the first movie is the great soundtrack. The music captures the era in which the movie was made and some of the scenes are genuinely improved by the contemporary music they use to add effect.
The last pull-over from the first film is probably the strongest of them all – Bridget Jones herself. As much as the story lacks any depth and gets ridiculous at times, Zellweger’s heroine is a great character and makes the film very watchable. Even when she is being hugely unreasonable, stupid and irritating, you still want her to succeed.
Overall, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason suffers from many of the usual sequel pitfalls but luckily has a strong backbone, comprising of great performances from Renee Zellweger and Hugh Grant, a solid soundtrack and some funny, touching moments. Not enough to equal the first but good enough.
Rating – 3
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)