Sunday, May 31, 2009

BRIDGET JONES: THE EDGE OF REASON (Universal/Miramax 2004) Universal Home Video

Hollywood hasn’t an original idea in its head…so the saying goes. To some extent, the phrase holds true for Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004); a second trip to the wellspring of delusional fun and confusion a la the very special claptrap that is Bridget Jones’ life. This time around, director Beeban Kidron assumes the creative reigns with creator Helen Fielding, Andrew Davis, Richard Curtis and Adam Brooks primping up what is essentially a remake rather than an addendum to the first movie.

Seems after pitching the unscrupulous Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) to the wolves for Mark Darcy in the final reel of the first movie, Bridget has begun to have second thoughts about where her relationship with Mark is going. Even though he treats her with kid gloves and more than a modicum of respect (which, arguably, she may or may not deserve) Bridget begins to suspect Mark of cheating on her with Rebecca (Jacinda Barrett) – a pretty little clerk in his firm who just happens to turn up one night at his home.

Furthermore, Bridget becomes more than slightly annoyed with Mark after he essentially leaves her on her own at a social gathering arranged for his firm; thereby affording her the opportunity to generally make an ass out of herself; something our Ms. Jones is eternally good at. Determined to teach Mark a lesson and reassert her importance in his life, Bridget and her friends Shazzer (Sally Phillips), Jude (Shirley Henderson) and Tom (James Callis) escape to Thailand for a holiday.

Unhappy chance for all concerned that upon their arrival Bridget learns Daniel is also in Thailand – having become a news reporter in town to cover a story. Seemingly a changed man, Daniel senses that Bridget may once more be his easy mark. He pours on the charm and suggests that perhaps he and Bridget can at last become a couple; a daydream Bridget briefly toys with before discovering that Daniel has – in fact – not mended his wicked and promiscuous old ways.

Meanwhile, Shazzer has taken up with another ‘tourist’ in their hotel, Jed (Paul Nicholls); an association that will turn out badly when Jed gives Shazzer a statue – presumably as a gift – to take back with her to Britain. Unable to fit the large object into her luggage, Shazzer gives it to Bridget instead.

At customs, the Thai authorities confiscate and smash the statue, revealing that it is full of heroine. In one of the film’s most hilarious sequences, unable to prove her innocence, Bridget is sent to a Thai prison where she befriends practically the entire female ward by regaling them with tales of western decadence, her own miserable mishaps with Mark and through teaching everyone to sing Madonna’s ‘Like A Virgin’.

Learning of Bridget’s imprisonment, Mark arrives in Thailand to spring her from the big house. And although he obviously still has affections for Bridget, Mark pretends that he has not directly come for her; a rouse that makes Bridget believe he no longer loves her until she returns to London and is told by Shazzer, Jude and Tom just how diligent Mark has been in securing her release from jail.

In a moment directly copied from the original film, Mark confronts Daniel, having learned that he deliberately left Bridget behind in Thailand. The two engage in another all out brawl, this time at a public museum that ends after both sissy fighters fall into a public fountain.

Arriving on Mark’s front porch to personally thank him for her release, Bridget discovers Rebecca waiting inside. Seems Mark is at the firm and in conference. However, the residual jealousy Bridget feels toward Rebecca is quelled when Rebecca reveals to her that she isn’t in love with Mark but actually with Bridget instead. Apologizing for not being a lesbian, Bridget rushes off to the firm to beg Mark’s forgiveness. It is granted, but not before several hilarious vignettes renders Bridget a muddy mess.

The film ends with Bridget’s mum and dad (Gemma Jones and Jim Broadbent) deciding to renew their wedding vows with Mark and Bridget standing up for them at the ceremony.

In general, there’s nothing particularly lacking with this second installment to the Bridget Jones saga except that most of what we see herein has already been played to perfection in the first movie. More squabbling between Bridget and Mark or Mark and Daniel or Daniel and Bridget – however cleverly maintained – is simply more of the same.

The screenplay makes the most of weaving predictable sets of circumstances into a generally pleasing mélange – but apart from a few fits and sparkles, The Edge of Reason plays more like The End of Originality.

Universal Home Video’s DVD is not quite up to the impeccable transfer standards set by its predecessor. The image is not nearly as sharply focused and color fidelity is rather suspect in spots – lacking the visual punchy flair of eye-popping colors. Flesh tones appear more pasty than natural. Contrast levels are slightly weaker than anticipated. Blacks are usually more deep brown than black, while whites tend to adopt a slight blue tint. Sonically, the film is more secure with the 5.1 Dolby Digital audio delivering a fair kick to the speakers.

Extras include an alternate beginning sequence and more deleted scenes; a rather benign quiz feature to learn whether you ‘fancy’ Mark or Daniel, a brief featurette on the fight between Daniel and Mark, an two more featurettes featuring Zellweger and Firth. Recommended, I suppose.

FILM RATING (out of 5 - 5 being the best)



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