Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)

BRIDGET JONES' DIARY, based on some book, is a wry, randy, and pleas-
antly realistic, London-set romantic drama about an oft-soused, ter-
minally single, thirty-something frump (Renee Zellweger, heavy) and 
this journal she's started.  (And excerpts from which are read in a 
believably British voice-over.)  A cheerily cynical lass, Ms. Jones  
spends the film recording both her fluctuating vitals (weight, alco-
hol intake, etc.) and the ups, downs, and *devastating* downs of 
Dating Hell.  As when her heart is expectedly broken in mid-movie.  
(As *always* happens in movies like these...)  In addition to diary 
entries, we're also privy to the character's louder thoughts, such 
as how she'd *really* like to introduce an otherwise loathed co-
worker at a company function.  (Jones is a lower-level paper-pusher 
at a London publishing house.)  The spoken/thought/spoken/thought 
flip-flopping isn't overused, nor are the shaggy-dog, "fantasy out-
comes" depicted earlier in the film.  Used together, however, they 
hang that "imagine or real?" question over the entire movie, making 
it harder to accept later dramatic climatic moments at face value.

The title character's misadventures include a fling with her boss, 
played by Hugh Grant with an uncharacteristic dashing sort of sleaze.  
Their awkwardly exciting romance is rendered both realistically *and* 
in a sexually frank fashion.  As are *most* of the relationships in the 
movie, like a left-field subplot involving Jones' mum and a Shopping 
Channel host she's off with.  The situations are often *funny*, too, 
with a pronounced slant toward sillier slapstick.  Witness Zellweger 
wrapped around a fire pole while later employed as a television re-
porter.  Or, groan, during a disastrous cooking sequence, complete with 
exploding food processor.  [ Insert own eye-rolling ]  The pratfalls 
pass quickly, thank goodness, so even the most obvious bits are over 
before the laughing is.  Smashing dialogue, too, from Richard Curtis 
and Andrew Davies' screenplay.  Plus some wonderful throwaway gags, 
like a series of increasingly hostile, male-bashing book titles.  Hi-

While well-stocked in the casting department-- other actors include 
Jim Broadbent and Gemma Jones as the title character's parents, and a 
trio of younger thespians as Ms. Jones' FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL-
style drinking buds-- this is Zellweger's vehicle.  (Grant is present 
for maybe two-thirds of the movie; Colin Firth, as Love Interest Number 
Two, for maybe half.)  And like Grant's portrayal of an unkempt rogue, 
Zellweger also plays against type.  Wearing ten extra pounds, at least, 
the actress is a svelte, self-destructive presence.  (It's a comfort-
able performance, without *too* much sadness or despair.)  Plus, what 
are the chances we'll see her wearing a Playboy bunny suit again?  Or 
standing in the middle of a snowy street, at night, wearing only sneak-
ers, a sweater, a tee-shirt, and... leopard-pattern panties.  (In addi-
tion to the pleasingly plump "ampleness," the extra tonnage also ren-
ders those goofy lips of hers' normal-looking for the first time in her 
screen career.) Kudos to cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh and art direc-
tor Paul Cross, too, whose stunning exterior snowscapes recall the win-
try wonderlands of Tim Burton.  e.g., BATMAN RETURNS, EDWARD SCISSOR-
HANDS, et al.  Gorgeous.  With  Crispin Bonham-Carter, James Callis, 
Shirley Henderson, Celia Imrie, Sally Phillips, the lovely Embeth Da-
vidtz, and ol' Pussy Galore herself, Honor Blackmon as "Penny."  (Rated 
"PG"/95 min.)

Grade: B

Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

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Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros -Movie Hell™ is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros