Much Less to Like the Second Time Around in "Bridget Jones"
- Annabelle Robertson Entertainment Critic
- 2004 11 Nov
Release Date: November 12, 2004
Rating: R (for language and some sexual content)
Run Time: 108 min.
Director: Biban Kidron
Actors: Renee Zellweger, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Jacinda Barrett, Jim Broadbent, Gemma Jones, Donald Douglas, Shirley Dixon
Oh, Bridget. Are you the new single gal? And if so, then where, oh where, did your self-esteem go?
For six glorious weeks, or 71 ecstatic “shags,” as she defines their relationship, Bridget (Renee Zellweger) has been dating (stalking) Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) and watching him like a hawk, while he sleeps and while he does business. You see, walking off into the sunset with one’s soul mate isn’t quite as perfect as one would have thought – especially when one Bridget Jones cannot keep her mouth shut at black tie functions, embarrasses herself ad nauseum at her job and with anyone she meets, obsesses about her looks and allows her jealousy to run rampant, to the point that she spies on her boyfriend, in his home, and bursts in on business meetings with international officials and declares her feelings for him. What’s an uptight, upper-class barrister to do? And what are these two doing together? Dear, oh dear.
When Bridget’s former flame, sexaholic Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) hits the scene, Bridget really starts to wonder. Perhaps she and Daniel are better suited for one another, despite their previous difficulties. After all, just because Daniel can’t stop thinking and talking about sex – or hanging out with prostitutes during their business trip to Thailand – doesn’t mean he’s lying when he says he’s changed and deserves another chance. Or does it? Besides, Mark Darcy has his long-legged, perfect legal intern (Jacinda Barrett) hanging all over him – even following them on their romantic ski holiday. Oh, the life of a singleton is very complicated, indeed.
Based on the book by Helen Fielding, this film boasts the same screenwriters as its successful predecessor, “Bridget Jones’ Diary.” But while Sharon Maguire, who directed the first film, did a good job, creating a funny if somewhat crass hit, her replacement hasn’t. Biban Kidron’s films, which include the 1993 “Hookers, Hustlers, Pimps and Their Johns” and the 1995 cross-dressing “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar” leave little doubt as to why this sequel dwells so much on Bridget’s sex life. In fact, hardly a scene goes by without people in bed or a reference to casual sex. Sometimes, it goes even further, including a lesbian kiss, a prostitute who interrupts Daniel’s seduction of Bridget in his hotel room, and a really disgusting question which Daniel poses to Bridget about Darcy’s sexual habits.
Zellweger does a very good job with the role – and the accent – just as she did with the original film, which won her an Oscar nomination. But her character is an embarrassment, and this time, we’re not sympathetic. She has a better job and wants to be a good journalist, but doesn’t even try. Why is she skydiving without an instructor, which lands her in the insufferable comedic standby, the manure pile? Why does her rear-end appear in front of the camera, yet again? And why does she act so childish? I realize that single women are supposed to relate to Bridget’s insecurities, but this is ridiculous.
Grant, Firth and Barrett all hold their own as well, but like Bridget, none of them can get away from the fact that their characters have evolved not one iota and are forced into the exact same jokes as before, such as another fistfight between Darcy and Daniel. Even the ending is the same, with Bridget braving the elements in order to reach Darcy. The dialogue has a few good lines, but is mostly recycled humor as well. “It was, as usual, crammed full of perverts disguised as close family friends,” Bridget quips, at her mother’s annual Christmas curry party (same as before) where she and Darcy again wear silly jumpers (same as before).
The only addition is when Bridget gets thrown into a Thai jail for smuggling cocaine (thanks to her best friend, who she forgives without any discussion, despite the friend’s questionable motives). Instead of using this to give the film depth, the screenwriters turn it all into a big joke, with Bridget comparing her problems with Darcy (he gets angry when she acts stupid) to the problems of the Thai prostitutes, most of whom have been abandoned, beaten and abused all their lives. Bridget-the-journalist’s solution? Teach them all how to sing Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” correctly. How noble. How professional.
Most of the film, however, revolves around casual sex. Daniel’s travel show is a sexual op-ed about various cities around the world. For example, he describes New York as “the city that never sleeps with the same person two nights in a row, and where ‘Sex in the City’ isn’t just a program – it’s a promise.” But even the fetching Bridget can’t define her relationships without counting how many “shags” (a crude British obscenity) they involve. It’s as if singleness can only be defined through the lens of sex.
This does a tremendous disservice to Fielding’s novels, which focus on the emotional and relational aspects of the protagonist’s life, even if they do include an overabundance of f-words, which are definitely mirrored in the film. Fielding does delve into Bridget’s sex life quite a bit, but Bridget is intent on marriage and children, something that is merely hinted at in this film, which instead chooses to portray sex as the epicenter of her life. Unfortunately, not even that is well done.
“Happiness is possible,” Bridget postulates, stating the film’s ponderous conclusion, “even when you’re 33 and have the bottom the size of two bowling balls.” What’s there, but the message that random ‘hooking up’ is not only normal, but the only way to ever get married – and find happiness? Certainly, in a society where dating rarely takes place within the accountability-laden parameters of family, church and community, we are all, like Bridget, blindly wandering to the altar, desperately hoping that we somehow get it right – and that somehow, miraculously, getting it right means finding our bliss. It’s tragic, really. But rather than highlighting the problem, even in a humorous way, this film normalizes it.
Whether you liked or disliked the last film, you’ll like this one much less. A big disappointment.
AUDIENCE: Adults only.
- Drugs/Alcohol Content: Extreme. Cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption repeatedly throughout film; characters eat “magic mushrooms,” with one becoming stoned & acting ridiculous; character goes to prison for unknowingly transporting drugs, which are revealed during search.
- Language/Profanity: Extreme. Approximately 40 obscenities (of which at least 20 are f- words), including some British obscenities (“shagging,” “bloody,” etc.) Additionally, approximately 20 profanities.
- Sexual Content/Nudity: Extreme. Repeated scenes throughout movie portray fornication; many innuendos and references (direct and indirect) to sex and sexual situations; multiple portrayals of prostitutes on streets, arriving in hotel room, ready to “work,” and discussion of same in other situations; multiple references to masturbation and homosexuality; one homosexual character; one woman professes love for another woman , then the two kiss; character fears that she is pregnant out of wedlock, buys pregnancy test, takes it, and is discovered by boyfriend, after which they argue.
- Violence: Mild. Character goes to prison, but sympathetic environment with no violence. Also physical humor like falling and tumbling.