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Bridget Jones's Diary

Starring Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant
Screenplay by Richard Curtis and Andrew Davies
Based on the novel by Helen Fielding
Directed by Sharon Maguire

IN SHORT: A fun, and flat out funny, dateflick for grownups. [Rated R for language and some strong sexuality.]

If you're a male under 30, the initial reaction will be to regard Bridget Jones's Diary as a mere chick flick, in which case you should lug your dates and be surprised at how relatively "un-chick flick-y" the film is. If you've made it into your 30s, male or female and still single, there's way too much here that should ring bells regardless of your sex. BJD is one of those remarkable, simple movies that's made for us grownups. It's funny and occasionally saucy and, yes, has the required happy ending -- this is the movies, after all. So, while we fester in our miserable lives, for a hundred minutes in the dark or so, there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

Tell us if you've heard this one, say, in the last two or three weeks: Single Thirtysomething femme with a decent job and no great dating prospects finds herself with two men in her life. One is Mr. Right, who may turn out to be Mr. Wrong and the other is decidedly Wrong, which may mean that, ultimately, he is Mr. Right. From the same school of critical analysis that noted that "they" had to do the adult into little kid body three times before they got it right with Big, we shower accolades on Bridget Jones's Diary, which puts similarly themed stories like Someone Like You to shame. It isn't just that the film is set in England. It is that we care about and like the title character almost immediately and continue to do so even as she puts on awful clothing and/or gets stinking drunk and/or makes a total fool out of herself on television.

That's a lot of the comedic charm of Bridget Jones's Diary. Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) is the real deal. She's soft and round; maybe 20 on the heavy side of being stylish but far short of the "needs two seats on the subway" wide. She speaks her mind. She smokes two packs a day. Vodka is almost but not quite her best friend and she spars with her boss via instant messaging in the office of Perlee Publishing, where she writes press releases ... on the days that she shows up on time (it's that hangover problem...) and fully clothed (you'll have to see that joke for yourself). Boss Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) is the perfect man of Bridget's dreams. Successful, gorgeous, great sense of humor and prime studmuffin material. Bridget has a different vocabulary to describe him but it involves four letter words and we can't use it here. Their developing relationship is as unlikely as it is endearing. Well, until the inevitable. If Bridget can't land the Boss, is she doomed to spinsterhood? Or is there something even worse in store for her?

Mark Darcy (Colin Firth is the lawyer that Bridget's mom wants to fix him up with. He has lousy taste in clothes. He doesn't have much of a personality and when the dame on his arm, another attorney named Natasha (Embeth Davidtz) snaps her fingers, he goes running. There's a term for that, but we can't use it here, either.

The film of Bridget Jones's Diary doesn't leave much to the imagination in the way of where the story is going to go. The reason Diary works is that Zellweger works. Her Bridget is immediately likable. Just overweight enough to be "real" but not too fat that her amorous encounters with Grant are unlikely. The two actors play off each other well, and while Zellweger uses the twenty extra pounds she gained for physical humor, Grant delivers self-deprecating zinger after zinger. He's a cad, but damn he's funny.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Bridget Jones's Diary, he would have paid . . .


The guy kidlets aren't going to buy this but they aren't the target demographic. Zellweger's performance continues a fine run begun in Jerry Maguire and continued in Nurse Betty.

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The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.