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Put the diary down

Special to the DailyDan Thomas
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Bridget Jones’ journey to the edge of reason, unfortunately, goes across the line she toed in making “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” a chick flick that even dudes could dig.”Bridget Jones’s Diary” had the women-friendly equivalent of a British prep-school pedigree: Its source material was Helen Fielding’s fictional diary of a plus-sized but plucky heroine determined not to be a spinster, and Hugh Grant helped with the transition to the big screen.

But the first movie was as steeped in booze and cigarettes as afternoon tea, and it cribbed from “Something About Mary” as much as it did “Anne of Green Gables.”That represented near-perfect balance: not too touchy-feely for the guys nor too rough around the edges for the gals, kind of like Renée Zellweger’s haplessly alluring title character. To carry that analogy another couple of years and leaps of logic, Zellweger managed to make Bridget Jones chubby, deranged and very appealing in the first movie. The second installment, then, co-opts that appeal and attempts to bulldoze the audience with it – but whether it’s the actress or the script, Jones just isn’t as appealing the second time around.

There’s a compelling case for either the script or actress’ portrayal falling short. Zellweger certainly seems more comfortable as Jones, employing a spot-on accent and looking very much at home in the extra weight she packed on for the role. But maybe that isn’t such a good thing because part of Jones’ charm seemed to come from looking lost in her own skin, trapped among machinations of her own making.



Those pratfalls, too, don’t seem to come as naturally. Whereas “Bridget Jones’s Diary” made swinging London into a comic hell, the sequel ventures farther afield. The title character goes skydiving, skiing and to the beach before treading perilously close to “Bridget Jones and the Midnight Express” territory, which – while funny – seems forced after the down-to-earth goofiness of a girl and her diary.It’s not that “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason” doesn’t have its laugh-out-loud moments: the skiing scene might be even funnier for audiences in Aspen or Vail than London or Los Angeles, and a budding fistfight between two inept English gentlemen is hysterical.Certainly, the humor’s broader, and the Bridget Jones franchise seems slightly more comfortable with its heroine’s stature – both in weight and big-screen impact. But in becoming more comfortable, Bridget Jones seems to have lost her stature and her way to the viewer’s heart.


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