Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason

Year: 2004
Cast: Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent
Movies have long been the place for social comment - even more so with the rash of Michael Moore-inspired works with their blazing attacks against the right wing.

So this review is going to start with a short rant; every media outlet from the national monthly womens' mags to the chat shows to our very own West Australian have picked up on just one selling point of the Bridget Jones franchise; the fact that Renee Zellweger put on 'extra pounds' to suit the role (it's another story that she lost it just as quickly - forget that Hollywood stars have all the free time they want when they aren't working and can afford to surround themselves with small armies of dieticians, nutritionists, personal trainers and chefs).

When Renee Zellweger puts on 'extra pounds' she looks like most women you can see walking around the streets of Perth (along with the rest of the Western world), but it still makes headline news. The fact that women with real shapes are so absent from mainstream media was even the subject of a movie earlier this year (Real Women Have Curves) - isn't saddling poor Bridget (or indeed, Renee herself) with some sort of media icon status just because of her 'extra pounds' the sort of thing women were fighting against in the 1960s, dismissed as hairy-legged militant man-haters for their struggle?

Although in all possibility the extra pounds are the only thing worth fixating on in the Bridget Jones franchise, having run out of steam to some extent, not offering much more than the first film did. It's pretty much Bridget Jones as her fans know and love her; neurotic, willpower-free and terminally single (despite having the dashing Mark Darcy as her boyfriend, her single-girl-terrified-of-her-use-by-date mythology is very much intact).

Most of the film is given away in the trailer pitch; 'a new year, a new boyfriend, what could possibly go wrong'. Of course, being Bridget, everything does.

Blissfully happy (some thirty odd shags into her new relationship) with buttoned down human rights lawyer Mark (Firth), everything goes swimmingly until Bridget's innate talent of stuffing things up comes into play and she convinces herself Mark is having an affair with a nubile paralegal from his practice.

Egged on by her stereotypical gossipy girlfriends (including the token male girlfriend), Bridget gets up to her slapstick hijinks to try to find Mark out, the misunderstandings, accusations and self doubt leading to them breaking up.

'Promoted' to co-host on a misogynistic travel show with none other than old flame and career cad Daniel (Grant), Bridget finds herself with him on the sun-soaked beaches of Thailand where he starts to work his old magic again. The film takes a bizarre turn when Bridget's arrested at the airport for drug smuggling and gets tossed into a hellhole prison. It upsets the whole light-hearted rhythm and suddenly you think it's going to turn into The Bangkok Hilton II. It does serve the story in a roundabout way though - prompting a romantic but predictable rescue by the one person she thought she couldn't count on.

Helen Fielding is now officially the J K Rowling of the chick lit set, with a string of books all compounding on each other's success and a movie franchise based on her famous character. Possibly at odds with the books, the films have a decidedly American feel despite the British dialogue, cast and crew (with the exception of Zellweger, who does one of the best British accents ever by an American actor).

But if you liked the original, you'll like Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason just as much, and even non-fans will get plenty of giggles, but don't expect more than the same easily digested bits of Brand Bridget. There's nothing too heavy (except - if you believe the media - Renee's 'extra pounds').

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