BRIDGET JONES: THE EDGE OF REASON - Blu-ray (Universal/Miramax, 2004) Universal Home Video
Hollywood hasn’t an original idea in its head…so the saying goes. To some extent, it holds true for Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004); a second trip to the well of delusional fun and confusion a la the very special claptrap that is Bridget Jones’ mind. This time around, director, Beeban Kidron assumes the creative reigns with series 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. Our Bridget (Renee Zellweger) is decidedly up to her old tricks, derailing her new relationship with Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) on a whim involving her former beau, Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant), who seeks a lemming to co-host for his successful travel program in Thailand. Wary of Mark’s seductive co-worker, Rebecca (Jacinda Barrett), Bridget accepts Daniel’s offer, then finds herself smack in the middle of a drug smuggling operation gone horribly awry. Very loosely adapted from Fieldings 1999 novel, The Edge of Reason is less fun than its predecessor, perhaps, because it strains much too hard to ‘find’ the laughter in situations that are genuinely un-funny at a glance. No kidding – our Bridget is prone to social faux pas and physical prat falls aplenty.
But this sequel is trying to take a simple dewy-eyed dreamer and make her over into something she is not. The situations our Bridget becomes inveigled in are not drawn so much from life as from caricature. We get a few drama-queen heartaches that leave Bridget’s relationship with Mark in question. But these are rather shamelessly dispatched in the one ‘actually’ funny scene in the movie – Bridget, incarcerated in a Thai prison with all manner of under-aged prostitutes who confess to her what the men (nee, pimps, abusers, and, reprobates) in their lives have made them do for love – sell their bodies on the street, take drugs, and endure physical assault. This revelation shames Bridget – as it should. She never had it so bad…or, in fact, quite so good as with Mark. Beeban Kidron is the wrong director for this material – totally lacking in any sort of proficiency for comedic timing, and, generally sidetracking the character traits that made Bridget Jones so appealing in the first movie. While Bridget came across as slightly kooky but cuddly in the original movie, in Edge of Reason she morphs into a shrewish fop with a sense of entitlement that belies the gratitude she ought to possess for having already found the right man.
Our story begins with Bridget – as ever – misguided and unwittingly eager to detour her own happiness. Seems after pitching the unscrupulous, Daniel Cleaver for Mark Darcy in the final reel of the first movie, Bridget has now 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 – a pretty clerk in his law 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 at a social gathering arranged for his firm, thereby affording Bridget the opportunity to generally make an ass out of herself, a quality for which our Ms. Jones excels. Determined to teach Mark a lesson, but also to 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. Seemingly a changed man, Daniel senses Bridget may once more be his easy mark. He pours on the charm and suggests, perhaps, they can at last be a couple - a fantasy Bridget briefly entertains before discovering 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 affair to end 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 the statue and smash it open, revealing it is full of heroine.
In Edge of Reason’s most hilarious sequence, unable to prove her innocence, Bridget is sent to a Thai prison where she befriends practically the entire female population in her cell, regaling them with tales of western decadence, her own miserable mishaps with Mark and teaching everyone to vogue and sing to 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 he has not directly come for her - a ruse that makes Bridget believe he no longer loves her; that is, until she returns to London and is told by Shazzer, Jude and Tom just how diligent and aggressively Mark has been working on her behalf to secure her release from jail. In a moment directly copied from the original, Mark confronts Daniel after discovering how 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 inside. Seems Mark is at the firm and ‘in conference’. However, the residual jealousy Bridget feels toward Rebecca is quelled when Rebecca reveals she is not 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 render Bridget yet another hot - and muddy - mess. Our story concludes 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.
Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason is not a terrible movie. And yet, it’s not a particularly good one either. Certainly, it comes nowhere near the joyous defeats and cute meets of the original. Most of what’s here has already been played out to perfection in the first movie. So, what we end up with is just more squabbling between Bridget and Mark, or, Mark and Daniel, or, Daniel and Bridget. However cleverly maintained – and, occasionally, it is – it still is just more of the same. The screenplay makes the most of these predictable circumstances. But apart from a few fits and sparkles, The Edge of Reason plays more like The End of Originality. While the original movie was released via Alliance Home Video, Edge of Reason arrives on Blu-ray via Universal Home Video. The image is not altogether pleasing, cribbing from older digital files, likely mastered at the time of the DVD release and not given any further consideration or a new scan since. It would have been rewarding to have a new master here. But no. So, colors again lag behind what the hi-def medium can offer. Flesh tones are pasty at best. Nothing pops as it should. Contrast is fairly anemic. There is also some minor black crush to contend with – intermittent, but present, as are age-related artifacts. Clearly, this transfer has been sourced from a print, rather than an original camera negative. Dumb, untidy little practice that, by now, ought to be antique. The 5.1 DTS soundtrack is adequate for this primarily dialogue-driven soundtrack. Extras include an alternate beginning, more deleted scenes and a rather benign ‘quiz’ for the ladies, to see whom they ‘fancy’ more - Mark or Daniel. There is also a brief featurette focused exclusively on the fight between Daniel and Mark, plus a pair of featurettes devoted to Zellweger and Firth. Bottom line: Edge of Reason is more for Bridget Jones’ completionists. Those who would prefer to remember Bridget in her prime need not bother with this sequel.
FILM RATING (out of 5 - 5 being the best)