BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY
Review by Ed Nguyen
Renée Zellweger, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Jim Broadbent
Director: Sharon Maguire
Audio: Dolby Digital Surround 5.1, French Surround 2.0
Video: Color, anamorphic widescreen 2.35:1
Features: Director commentary, behind-the-scenes featurette, two music videos, original Bridget Jones columns, deleted scenes
Length: 98 minutes
Release Date: October 9, 2001
seem to go out of your way to make me feel like a complete idiot every time I
see you, and you really needn't bother; I already feel like an idiot most of the
first glance, Bridget seems a most peculiar young lady around whom to construct
a romantic tale. For one thing, she
is the very antithesis of glamour. Bridget
is a tad on the frumpy side, with a decidedly lackluster sense of fashion.
Her weight oscillates around the unmentionably-highs.
She is an appallingly poor public speaker.
She sings like a strangled cat. As
a cook, she barely achieves blue soup and marmalade omelettes with any degree of
sincerity. And though she endeavors
to present a cheerful face, somewhere underneath her outwardly brave persona, we
sense that she is lonely.
you see, is a single woman in her early thirties. She is at that sensitive age when most of her friends have
married, and her parents, with their not-very-subtle aspirations of becoming
grandparents, have started to become meddling nuisances.
They hope, improbably as all parents do, that marriage for their single
daughter is not far off. In other
words, Bridget Jones's Diary, which chronicles Bridget's woes, is just the
sort of film to which single young women, with resigned smiles, might relate.
Bridget Jones's Diary, Bridget is warm
and kind and is able to laugh at her misfortunes. She is far from perfect, but her faults make her a real
person, not the plastic Barbie of typical Hollywood romantic comedies.
The original Bridget Jones was the heroine of a popular British newspaper
column which routinely chronicled her daily insecurities, her desires, and her
successes and failures. The column,
written in the style of diary entries, rapidly became quite popular particularly
among young British women who embraced Bridget Jones the way young professional
women in America relate to Cathy Guisewite's Cathy
a film adaptation of the Bridget Jones column was first announced, there was
widespread speculation over who would play the endearing female pop icon.
The role of Bridget's slippery-slimy boss, Daniel Cleaver, would
naturally go to Hugh Grant, a perennial presence in British comedies nowadays
(although he is hilariously cast against type this go-around).
Colin Firth would occupy the role of Bridget's other love interest, a
dull barrister. However, who would
play Bridget Jones? The search for
the right actress was a long and exhaustive one that finally concluded with....a
diminutive, skinny American actress with a Texan accent and a frankly weird name
- Renée Zellweger. She was hardly
the sort of actress indignant Britons envisioned portraying their beloved
Renée Zellweger, after winning the prized role, had to muddle through a rather
uphill battle for public approval. But
in the end, she gave her heart to her performance and proved that she was indeed
right for the role, even famously putting on several dozen pounds for the sake
of her craft to portray the overweight Bridget Jones.
Jones's Diary may
use the popular British column as a source of inspiration, but it is really a
liberal adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride
and Prejudice. One need look no
further for proof than the casting of Colin Firth as Mark Darcy, one of
Bridget's love interests. For
anyone not in the know, Firth also played a Fitzwilliam Darcy in the acclaimed
1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice!
So there you are. Hence, anyone vaguely familiar with the Jane Austen novel
will already know the general storyline to Bridget
the film commences, Bridget Jones, having returned from yet another disastrous
New Year's Party, has resolved to change her life. She begins a diary to chronicle her resolution to shed some
pounds, to quit drinking, and to find a decent man to marry.
Daniel Cleaver be just such a man? Daniel
is Bridget's boss and editor-in-chief at her publishing company.
However, he is a bad bad boy, and his introduction is one of the film's
comic highlights. Immediately after
Bridget has listed all the things she hates most in a man and which are so
completely embodied in Daniel, the film switches to a shot of the smirking
Daniel as elevator doors open, the soundtrack blaring away to Aretha Franklin's Respect ("What you want, baby I got it...").
course, Bridget naturally finds herself strangely attracted to this slimy,
two-legged reptile (why oh why do women always fall for bad boys and never the
Darcy is one of the nice ones, although he's a bit of a cold fish at first.
He also doesn't think so highly of Bridget after their initial encounter,
whom he likens to "a verbally incontinent spinster who smokes like a
chimney, drinks like a fish, and dresses like her mother."
Ah, such charity, but he'll change his mind soon enough! Anyway, apparently some long-standing animosity exists
between Daniel and Mark, and the nature of this mutual distaste will become more
apparent as the film progresses. It
also serves to confuse Bridget even more while she tries to decide which man is
better for her. Will Bridget go for
the rascally and uncommitted cad, Daniel, or will she choose the stiff and dull
Mark? Or, perhaps should she just
take off for a vacation in Paris with her equally eccentric friends?
three lead actors are very good in this film. Renée Zellweger is quite a riot as Bridget, and it's easy to
see why she earned an Oscar nomination for her performance.
Every time Bridget commits a social faux pas, whether it's mutilating
karaoke songs or crashing her derrière into a live TV camera, we laugh at her
woes yet we also love her all the more for them.
Hugh Grant has an uproariously good time as the roguish Daniel.
And Colin Firth is very funny in that British dry humor sort of way.
Excellent as Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, Firth is still very good as Mark Darcy in Bridget
Jones's Diary, too, despite his relative lack of screen time.
any regard, viewers familiar with the Jane Austen novel should be able to
foresee who Bridget ultimately picks and for what reason, too, but not before
watching Bridget bounce back and forth like a ping-pong ball between her two
prospective suitors. It all makes
for a lot of light-hearted fun!
is presented in an anamorphic widescreen format.
The colors are bright and cheerful, and the picture is generally sharp
with good details. There is a bit
of dust at the beginning of the film but otherwise this is a fine transfer.
sports a 5.1 Dolby Digital audio track, with an optional 2.0 French track. Most of the dialogue and sounds are mixed to the front
speakers, although the surrounds do get occasional usage. This being a romantic comedy, the sub-woofer does not get
much of a vigorous work-out except in a few of the song excerpts on the
soundtrack. All in all, this is a
pleasant enough audio.
like the Doris Day-flavored menus for this disc! They have a light, breezy quality to them that is perfectly
in sync with the comic tone of the film itself.
Happily, there is a motley collection of extra features on this disc.
First of all, for anyone unfamiliar with Helen Fielding's popular Bridget
Jones columns, a few excerpts have been reproduced for the DVD.
They are funny and reflect the witty and sarcastic humor that has
transformed Bridget into England's pop culture darling.
for the film itself, director Sharon Maguire offers a feature-length commentary
track. Also available are seven
deleted scenes. For the most part,
they are actually quite good, and considering the film's relatively short
length, needn't have been removed from the theatrical cut. Nevertheless, here they are for the viewer's perusal.
"Behind-the-scenes" featurette (9 min.) is as one would expect - a
montage of interview clips, scenes from the film, and videos of the actual
production. However, true to the
spirit of the film, this featurette possesses a wry, tongue-in-cheek humor that
makes it a blast to watch!
DVD contains two music videos. The
first one is "Killin' Kind," by Shelby Lynne.
I could have sworn that she was a country music star, but she gets a
seductive pop tart-makeover here. The
second video is "Out of Reach," a love ballad sung by Gabrielle.
I could have sworn that she was a hip hop singer!
This DVD is certainly all about casting against type, isn't it?
there is an extensive sneak peek section with seven entries.
One is for the Bridget Jones soundtrack, which coyly concludes on a funny
clip of Bridget Jones singing atrociously (don't worry, she's mercifully not
included on the actual soundtrack CD). Another
entry is a brief series of short clips from various noteworthy Miramax films.
The remaining selections are assorted trailers for Shake Rattle and Rock (also starring Renée Zellweger), Chocolat
(with Juliette Binoche), About Adam
(with Kate Hudson), Robert Louis
Stevenson's St. Ives (with English cutie Anna Friel), and Blow
Dry (with Rachel Leigh Cook). If
you have not already guessed as much, these films are all romantic comedies.