Jonesing for laughs

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason

Ready for a break after making <i>The Edge of Reason</i>, Renee Zellweger spies Hugh Grant chowing down on the last Krispy Kreme doughnut.

Ready for a break after making The Edge of Reason, Renee Zellweger spies Hugh Grant chowing down on the last Krispy Kreme doughnut.

Rated 2.0

Poor Renee Zellweger. She had to eat pancake after pancake, hoagie after hoagie to reprise her role as Bridget Jones in the inevitable sequel to Bridget Jones’s Diary, and the result isn’t worth the strain on her little body. She’s made it evident with the press lately that she’s taking a break from acting, and that’s no surprise. Watching this subpar film with the taste of maple syrup still nestling in her binge-eating mouth must’ve given her one helluva stomach ache.

For those of you who aren’t keeping score, I wasn’t a big fan of the original film, so that doesn’t leave me in the best shape for Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. While I found the character of Bridget endearing in the original, her gigantic underpants shenanigans got a little tiresome after the first half hour. I dug the stuff with Hugh Grant’s bad boy character but thought Colin Firth’s Darcy was a drag. As for Zellweger, while she can be endearing, I’ve always felt a fine British actress deserved the role.

This time out, Grant and Firth are both enjoyable, and it’s Bridget herself who has become a monotonous drone. In this film, she is nothing but a punch line to bad slapstick. Director Beeban Kidron parades the character through an endless string of public embarrassments and sporting mishaps—she makes a big butt of herself skydiving and skiing—to a point that’s beyond ridiculous. By the time Bridget ends up in a Thailand prison and stages a performance of “Like a Virgin,” the humor has become painfully desperate, not to mention woefully lame.

The sequel picks up pretty much where the original left off, with Bridget in a relationship with lawyer Mark Darcy and bragging to everybody about it. They seem to share a confident, trusting relationship, but Bridget making an ass of herself one too many times in public leads to a split, paving the way for the Grant character to wind up back in her life.

The two go to Thailand as roving correspondents for a TV show. This provides a setup for jokes about Thai hookers who are really young boys and Bridget’s eventual prison stay due to her inadvertently arriving at the airport with a suitcase full of drugs. Yes, the whole Thai prison bit was in the novel that inspired the film, but couldn’t novelist and co-screenwriter Helen Fielding find a way to leave this banality out? It’s hard to work up any sort of good feelings when the protagonist is in a diplomatic nightmare. There’s really nothing funny about her plight. In fact, Brokedown Palace, a serious depiction of Kate Beckinsale and Claire Danes going through a similar predicament, was actually funnier.

After two films, I will come out and say, once and for all, that Zellweger wasn’t a very good choice for Jones. Her English accent sounds like there’s plenty of effort going into it, which is a more complicated way of saying, it sounds slow and fake. Also, watching her seesaw with the weight from movie to movie has become a little disturbing.

There are some laughs. Firth and Grant have a slap fight that comprises the film’s best moment when they both display a knack for physical humor. Bridget’s downhill skiing nightmare, though implausible, gets a few giggles. Overall, the film is not funny or romantic. Here’s hoping this is the last of Bridget, and certainly the last time Zellweger chooses to put her cardiovascular system through unspeakable hell.