out of Five
Running time: 115
Serviceable sequel that isn’t quite as good as the first film but won’t disappoint fans wanting more of the same.
Given the enormous success of 2001’s Bridget Jones’s Diary and the pre-existing source material in Helen Fielding’s follow-up novel, a sequel was nigh-on inevitable. Sadly, although it’s a pleasure to see Bridget back in action again, the plot is much weaker and the resulting film is little more than a rehash of all the best jokes in the first movie.
A Few Weeks After The Original
The film picks up just a few weeks after the events of the first movie.
Renee Zellweger returns (“wobbly bits” and all) as Bridget Jones, now happily ensconced in a relationship with Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) but still unable to believe her luck.
However, when Bridget becomes suspicious of a pretty colleague of Darcy’s, her insecurities get the better of her and she ends up putting their relationship at risk. As if this wasn’t bad enough, she gets sent on a business trip to Thailand with old flame (and grade A cad) Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant)…
It’s strange to think that in the three years between (ahem) “BJ 1” and “BJ 2” Renee Zellweger has slimmed down to the stick-thin size she was for Chicago and back up again, because she inhabits the part as if the films had been shot back to back.
She also completely nails the slightly posh English accent and seems to be relishing the opportunity to show off her skills as a physical comedienne. (Also, it has to be said, she’s a thousand times more gorgeous as Bridget than she was as Roxie Hart). The only problem here is the various hoops the script makes her jump through that turn her into a bit of a mentalist; she’s a little less sympathetic as a result.
The script is also to blame for the stiffness of Mark Darcy’s character, because if he was allowed to behave normally then everything would be cleared up within minutes and there wouldn’t be a plot; because of this, Colin Firth often looks understandably frustrated at having so little to do.
Grant A Brilliant Utter Bastard
However, the real joy of the film is in Hugh Grant’s performance – once again, he proves that he’s at his best when playing utter bastards. Unsurprisingly, he gets all the big laughs. As for the rest of the supporting cast, they barely register, though Neil Pearson stands out as Bridget’s editor and there’s an amusing celebrity cameo from, of all people, Jeremy Paxman.
Ultimately, the film is over-reliant on two things: re-hashing the best jokes from the first film (Bridget’s arse descending into view on a TV report; an admittedly hilarious replay of the girly-slap fight between Firth and Grant) and a soundtrack so stuffed full of current radio-friendly hits that there’s barely room for them all – it frequently seems as if someone is skipping through the prospective soundtrack album by jabbing at the button before the songs finish.
That said, there are enough comic set-pieces to keep the chuckles coming. Highlights include: the aforementioned Grant/Firth slapdown; Bridget’s ill-advised skiing attempt; and Bridget teaching Madonna songs to the inmates of the world’s friendliest Thai prison.
In short, it’s a shame that the sequel couldn’t have deviated from the book a little more, because most of the faults lie with the source material. However, Zellweger and Grant are on top form and the film is unlikely to disappoint its target audience. Worth seeing.