Not since the late 1970s and early 1980s, when Star Wars, Rocky, Smokey and the Bandit, and Superman first spawn sequels, has the feature film follow-up dominated the box-office quite like it does today. Between Shrek 2, Spider-Man 2, and The Bourne Supremacy, it’s been a stellar year for sequels. That is, until now.
Fresh off her Oscar-winning performance in Cold Mountain, a full figured Renée Zellweger returns to the silver screen as Bridget Jones, the chain-smoking singleton torn between love, lust, and insecurity in the inane Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Picking up where the original left off in 2001, The Edge of Reason begins six weeks later as Bridget (Renée Zellweger) and Mark (Colin Firth) embark on a romantic odyssey that spans two continents.
Unfortunately, unlike its quirky predecessor, The Edge of Reason features a storyline constructed entirely around a series of mind-numbing mishaps, strategically placed to keep Bridget from finding true love. For example, when Bridget suspects Mark of having an affair with a beautiful barrister named Rebecca (Jacinda Barrett). Instead of asking him about a suspicious message she hears playing on his machine, Bridget immediately dumps Mark, heads for Thailand, and begins snogging her old boyfriend, Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant).
As if that weren’t bad enough, once Bridget comes to her senses and heads back to England. She’s arrested at the airport for smuggling cocaine – a mishap caused by a luggage snafu – and taken to a Thai prison, where she deals with her sudden incarceration by leading a throng of prostitutes in a rousing rendition of "Like a Virgin."
Of course, all these superficial shenanigans do little to bolster The Edge of Reason’s razor-thin plot, resulting in a film that’s as campy as Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde. Most of the blame for this comedic chaos falls squarely on the shoulders of screenwriters Adam Brooks, Andrew Davies, and Helen Fielding – author of all three Bridget Jones books – for failing to produce a script free of recycled material. From the childish fight between Daniel and Mark to the embarrassing phone call in which Bridget proclaims her admiration for Mr. Darcy’s derrière to a roomful of lawyers, everything about Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason is a rip-off of the original, including the never-ending butt shots.
Although, the real problem with Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason isn’t that it suffers from an unmistakable form of déjà vu, but that it turns the character of Bridget Jones into someone the audience hardly recognizes. Sure, Bridget is still the same chubby blonde with cheeks the size of giant Gobstoppers and an ass as big as two bowling balls, but now she’s so obsessed with becoming Mrs. Mark Darcy that she’s completely lost her sense of humor. Before what made Bridget Jones such a charming character was her ability to laugh at herself no matter what kind of awkward situation she managed to get into. Now, instead of being a sassy, self-deprecating singleton, with a penchant for cigarettes, granny panties, and the occasional early morning shag, she’s become an uptight, self-centered nitwit, who’s so consumed by love that she can hardly function. Let alone be herself.
Everyone involved in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason seems out of place, with the exception of Hugh Grant, who steals the show, thanks to a hilarious scene in which his character, the naughty but not so nice Daniel Cleaver, gets caught in a compromising position with a Thai call girl, whose name might as well have been Devine Tan. As for Renée Zellweger and Colin Firth, they’re far less believable in their roles as the would-be couple separated by a series of unfortunate misunderstandings, and even appear to have lost some of that magnetic chemistry they captured in Bridget Jones’s Diary. Despite Zellweger’s prowess for physical comedy and Firth’s uncanny ability to maintain a stiff upper lip without being completely pompous, the two sleepwalk through most of Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, proving once and for all that in Hollywood, a successful sequel is about as likely as Bridget Jones losing 10 pounds, marrying Mark Darcy, and living happily ever after.