Heere we are again, at the base of Sequel Mountain, preparing to climb. The movie is Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, the anticipation is slim to none, and yet, we take that first step that all higher-ups in “the Biz” want us to take. We buy a movie ticket or DVD to watch their sequel.
Before we get into the meat and potatoes of Miss Jones, let me say this. The problem I have with sequels is that most of the time they are made to jump on the bandwagon of a successful first movie and take as much money out of fans’ pockets as they can before we forget about the film (cough, George Lucas, cough). Most sequels are poor in quality compared to the original, lack depth of character, and barely carry any type of plot from beginning to end. Sequels exist only for us, the fans of an original, to see our “hero” again. We sit there, yearning to know what happened next, and Hollywood comes up with the answer. The answer, however, leaves us feeling like Kathy Bates in Misery when we learn that the next chapter never turns out the way we hoped and we begin to wish all sequels and prequels could be erased from our minds.
The driving force with Bridget Jones falls onto the shoulders of two things. The first being Renee Zellweger’s weight gain for the part, which she did for both movies while being skinny in between the two. I’m on the fence about whether this is a positive aspect or not. Is it good that we show actresses as real, so we the “normal” people feel represented in films? Or, is Hollywood trying to take our money because they know we like to stare at car wrecks and in the same way will gawk if an actress is willing to de-beautify themselves for a role? Just look at Charlize Theron in Monster, Salma Hayek in Frda, Hillary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry. Are they breaking the mold for films by delving into reality, or are they holding out their hands for us to “step right up” and see the anti-Hollywood actress at work?
The second aspect is the character of Bridget Jones herself. She’s extremely quirky and consistently says the wrong things at the wrong time in the wrong place. She’s insecure yet confident, overweight but feels no pressure from her “normal” weight friends (which is good in a way), and she walks funny, kind of like Miss Piggy probably would if she weren’t a puppet. Not to mention the plethora of facial expressions Renee Zellweger brings to the table, thus making her character that much more real, animated, and alive. These are all beautifully carried out and come across the screen in such a touching and genuine way that we really see Bridget and not Renee. Anyone that’s seen a film with Zellweger in it knows her ability to disappear and let the character take over. Yay for her!
But this is a sequel, and you know what that means. There’s really no story to flow throughout the film. Yes, there are little moments of tension that jump from one to the next, but no constant plot or direction. With The Edge of Reason there’s a huge lack of depth. Everything that’s funny is all surface humor, physical comedy or one-liners. In one scene Jones refers to the parts of her body as “wobbly bits”. That’s really good and not cliched, but that’s five seconds of funny and this movie is 108 minutes long.
The character is there though - something nice (and rare) for a sequel. Bridget Jones is alive and real on the screen. Zellweger works her tail off in an excellent performance, always just a little over the top. The real problem is there’s nowhere to take it. After an hour there are some funny moments when she’s fed mushrooms and trips out for a while, and later thrown into a Thai jail for a few weeks. That was funny. I was wondering how she’d get out, but then she did and it was done. Those things happened over halfway into the film though and didn’t relate to anything that preceded those scenes. And, like all good girls that are told to play with dolls and pretend to be housewives for fun, in the end, all she’s waiting for is a proposal. Not very liberating for such a liberated character on all other fronts, but maybe that is what it is to be a woman.
The Edge of Reason really is the edge of going too far. Women (and some men) everywhere have been conned into spending money on Zellweger’s ability to literally work when she has nothing there to work with. For the most part, the film is used as a tool to create a soundtrack and, odd for a British story, it’s mostly American music, most of which you can’t hear the dialogue over anyway. If you truly have nothing better to do, watch it, but, if there’s any chance your diary is more interesting, which it probably is, read that instead.
First things first. Right there staring at you on the outside plastic is a stupid sticker that says “We love sequels. Better first dates. More second dates. Yahoo! Personals”. And I say, get a life Yahoo! Not everyone that buys this film is immediately looking to shag someone else. I know everything in the world has to get paid for somehow, but I already see enough spam like this in my junk mailbox. I really don’t want to see it when I buy a DVD.
On the disc there’s a “Who’s Your Man?” Quiz, which you can play separately or during the movie. This type of thing is really geared toward single women. It really wants you to decide if you are more attracted to Colin Firth’s character or Hugh Grant’s. My results: it told me I’m not right for either one and that I’m okay with myself and dating a lot. It said I’m not ready to settle down, get married, and have babies. Funny, since I’ve already settled down, gotten married and had a baby. That quiz was about as accurate that first pregnancy test before having said baby.
Next is “The Big Fight,” which, like most of the extras on the disc, is only about five minutes long, and talks about Grant and Firth's on screen brawl in which they purposefully made it look weak and humiliating for both of the characters. Then, of course, there are the deleted scenes. Only three of them, each having an introduction for what it’s about, where it would have come in the film, and why it was cut. These were pretty good.
After that is the “Mark & Bridget: Forever?” section, again, five minutes long. It's kind of cute, and does give a deeper look at Bridget Jones’ character, so it’s okay. The next five minute chunk is taken from a scene in the book where Bridget Jones interviews Colin Firth (which is interesting because how do you make Colin Firth himself and not his character in the movie), however, it is really pretty boring and, while it adds a nice twist, it's not worth it. “Lonely London” is only about three minutes long and goes into the CGI effects and blue screen work used for a shot that pans out from Jones, sad at her window, flows over the rooftops of London and ends with Firth’s character walking alone. This was an interesting moment, and at the time I watched the film I did think it added some visual depth. More shots like that one could have helped a little.
There is, of course, a cast and filmmakers section. This has a lot more people included in it than you usually see on a disc so I do think that’s a plus here. Finally, the commentary with director Beeban Kidron is great. Not only is there a discussion about scene setups, what day of shooting it was, etc, but there is also some discussion about each character and how really getting into the minds of these characters was important - why they do what they do, or think what they think. If those aspects were as clear in the final product as they are in the commentary it could have the film more fun to watch, but then again, it was a sequel, so perhaps that's too much to expect.