Much better than Bridget Jones’s Diary. This is coming from someone who hated the first film, so the improvements I see are probably correcting elements that fans of the original liked, so therefore the won’t like the new version. But I did.
Both films celebrate the tragedy of social embarrassment, as if that’s such a great problem that it deserves several movies and books devoted to it. Nothing Jones goes through, no matter how humiliating, amounts to anything more than a laugh that everybody else would just get over. She’s not important enough for people to really cultivate her follies. If real people obsess like this, you tell them to get therapy, but if a movie character does it, it’s somehow adorable. She wore a costume to a straight party, somebody saw her big underwear, she skydived into pig crap and she couldn’t hold a political conversation with lawyers. You know, in an action movie, you have to give the hero insurmountable odds, like 20 terrorists in a building, but in a romantic comedy, people accept this as conflict.
But towards the end of Edge of Reason, Jones finally gets a real problem. Maybe it’s completely inappropriate in tone to the rest of the movie, but it’s a real problem. She goes through a real life crisis that puts things in perspective. It’s not pig crap, big underwear or bunny costumes. It’s borderline Midnight Express, but at least it’s something that matters to a person’s future.
Until then, it’s more of the same. Now that she has a boyfriend, she does just about everything to drive him away. And he puts up with a lot. He humors her through a lot of obsession. It’s only when she puts him in an unwinnable situation, where she’s set him up so no matter what he says, he loses, that he gives up. The implication is that he should have asked her to marry him in that scene. As an audience, we’re supposed to feel bad that he didn’t go there, but let’s remember that the film repeatedly reminds us that they’ve only been together 6-8 weeks.
But friends and family plant the seeds in Jones’s head that she should expect a proposal. I don’t care how lofty a proposition romantic comedies may be, but on what planet, in what time period, and in what magical gender are people encouraging that kind of commitment so soon? I get dumped for being too serious when I suggest being exclusive after three dates. Seriously, I wouldn’t have a problem with this if any society resembling the one in the film practices any such speed-marriage. Even arranged marriages take months and years. And whether or not the two were family acquaintances before the 6-8 weeks, they still didn’t develop any kind of relationship to warrant taking the next step. I’ll go with just about any gap in reality for the sake of a movie, but when you talk about commitment, you’re in my territory, and I’ve been persecuted all my life for going too fast. I even waited a year to propose to my fiancé.
It doesn’t help that Jones’s insecurities are more painfully obvious than ever. It is so abundantly clear that Rebecca is absolutely no threat to her. From a plot standpoint, from a character standpoint, from a human perspective, there is no way on earth that this guy has a thing with Rebecca. And at the end of the film, that conflict resolves itself in a surprising way. Another point in the sequel’s favor.
Here’s the thing. Let’s go with the gross insecurity and obsession for a bit. Let’s say that these are acceptable conflicts for a movie. They’re not, but let’s go with it. Will Jones at least learn her lesson? In the first movie, she really didn’t. She went with an A-hole who viciously ridiculed her the entire film. It was the Reality Bites syndrome. So in Edge of Reason, she’s forced to finally face her insecurities.
Colin Firth, who came across like such an A-hole in the first movie that it seemed appalling for her to end up with him, actually carries the charm of this film. He’d have every right to reprimand her on a number of occasions but instead he sweet talks her.
Hugh Grant, who was the most charming character in the original, relishing in his own sleaze, is a bit less endearing here. In trying to act like he’s changed, he’s actually far less interesting. He still injects random flirts into things, but perhaps he’s being too nice.
Renee Zellweger is still cute as Bridget. She looks great in these movies. She actually has curves and they suit her perfectly. I’d love to see this character go through some better material, but everyone involved seems just happy to go through the paces until the third act.
The film’s soundtrack sounds like they’re trying to meet a quota. It’s just packed with songs from love rock to disco to hip hop. One love song during a sad moment in the film sounds like it belongs in Team America: World Police. It actually says everything that’s going on on screen, only it’s actually serious.
All this said, I liked the film. A lot of the gags were funny, like the jellyfish and the male fight scene. And it finally relieved my frustration with the first film. I truly feel released now that Bridget Jones has had to face reality.