Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

bridget jones's diary IMDb

This is the movie that ended up becoming more about Renee Zellweger’s yo-yoing waistline than the actual movie. The movie is actually not that bad. This was one of Sally’s films recently brought over by her visiting parents which is why we are watching it late. My only real issue with the film is that Bridget Jones is meant to be a tad overweight, I’m not seeing this from Zellweger. Just because Zellweger put on a few pounds to not be the stick thin waif she normally is does not mean she can be called plump. It also bothered me a little bit that they cast an American as Jones. Were there no mildly overweight British actresses lining up for this role? Zellweger actually does a passable English accent, but it does bother me that she was cast at all. Although the Brits have certainly got their revenge– nearly every big name Yankee role being cast these days is filled by a foreigner.

So the movie is the story of Bridget Jones (Zellweger) and her attempts to find a man. She has a brief fling with her womanising boss (Hugh Grant), but eventually must decide between him and the chivalrous Mr. Darcy (Colin Firth). Who will Jones choose? It is up to her and her collection of alcoholic friends to help her pick, leading to a very amusing dueling climax. She chronicles this year of searching for love in a personal journal.

Now I don’t love this movie, but it isn’t terrible. I actually used to own it, but leant it to someone and can’t remember who. I stopped caring when I heard Sally also owned this film. The movie has its moments. Hugh Grant is great as the terrible philanderer that Bridget can’t say no to. He was known more for playing foppish English duds when this film was released, so it was good to see him trying something new and being really good at it.

Of course, the film would not have worked at all without the performance of Renee Zellweger. She earned an Oscar nomination for the role, and she is a lot of fun as the hard drinker, just looking to find a decent guy to get her overbearing parents off her back. Bridget makes a lot of mistakes, but Zellweger is so likable, it is hard to really hate her. The audience wants her to find happiness and this is all due to Zellweger giving such a good performance.

Bridget Jones Diary is not my favourite rom-com, but it is entertaining enough.

Rating: C+

I’m not a fan of romantic comedies in general, but there are a few that I absolutely love. Bridget Jones’s Diary is one of these. I’ve easily seen this movie 50 times, and that’s probably a low estimate. If it’s on TV, I’m watching it. If I’m bored on a rainy day, I’m watching it. If I need a palette cleanser after a string of uninspiring stories, I’m reading the book. This is right up there with Back to the Future on my list of movies I know word for word.

I don’t really know why I was first drawn to this movie. I’ve never really been single for more than a few months, preferring to be in long term relationships. Social anxiety makes the prospect of a first date especially nerve wracking, so my dating days were short lived. The singleton lifestyle depicted in Bridget Jones is not one I can personally relate to, though I can relate to her quest for coupledom to some extent. Having a boyfriend doesn’t make you immune to people wondering aloud when you’ll marry. And being married tends to invite questions of when you’ll have kids. Women really can’t ever win.

Where I really identify with Bridget are in her struggles to get her career on track. Jones tries to be taken seriously, but doesn’t always do herself favors in this regards. She takes personal calls at work, acts embarrassingly at the office Christmas party, sometimes dresses inappropriately, and has an affair with her womanizing boss. I mean, who hasn’t made at least one of these mistakes in their career? Where Bridget finally shines is when she takes a leap of faith and switches jobs. She’s still struggling to be taken seriously, sure, but at least it’s finally on her own terms.

Of course, Bridget Jones’s Diary is also hilarious and perfectly casted. Rene Zellweger is Bridget, adopting an excellent English accent and gaining 20 pounds to fit the role. This is probably her best known role, and for good reason. I can think of no one else who could have brought such charm and humor to the character. The same is true of the two men in Bridget’s love triangle. Hugh Grant is the smarmy, womanizing Daniel Cleaver. This is definitely a case of real life influencing casting choice. Grant has a bad boy reputation, but it only makes him seem even more perfectly suited to this role. In fact, I can’t imagine him ever playing a good guy, which is part of the reason why I’ve not watched films like Four Weddings and a Funeral. Of course, the real favorite is Colin Firth’s Mark Darcy. This was my first introduction to the actor, and I’ll see just about anything he’s in thanks to this movie. Oddly, the one Firth production I haven’t seen is the BBC adaptation of Pride & Prejudice that strongly influenced Bridget Jones’s Diary. I’ll have to check Netflix for that one asap.

Bridget Jones’s Diary is probably in my top 10 favorite films list. I really do love it that much, partly because it’s such a “go-to” movie for me. It cheers me up when I’m sad, it makes me laugh when I’m bored, and it never gets old. I highly recommend the movie and the book. I also recommend the book’s sequel, but not the movie sequel (Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason is a spectacularly terrible film.). And no, I have not read the most recently released book, because I know the basic plot and the thought of it makes me sad. I’ll just stick with this one for now.

Rating: A

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