In Bridget Jones's Diary (2001), the gaffe-prone protagonist negotiated an obstacle course of minor humiliations before she could scramble over the rainbow with her white knight. Improbably, the sequel only ups the ante on its predecessor's comedy-of-embarrassment quotient. Bridget skydives into a pigpen. Bridget slides off a skylight. Bridget arrives at a party unwittingly slathered in blusher. Bridget falls off a ski lift. Since none of her slapstick blundering can darken the fond gaze of new beau Mark Darcy—the "total sex god and human rights lawyer"—Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason strains to justify its existence and sow the necessary discontent between Bridget and Mark (Renée Zellweger and Colin Firth). She finally wipes that indulgent smile off her swain's gorgeous mug after he admits to their respective parents that, actually, no, after less than two months together, they're not exactly thinking about marriage yet. According to Bridget, Mark's inability to make out the sound of wedding bells in the near distance indicates he will "never muster the strength to fight" for her.
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That's quite literally untrue—Mark inevitably dukes it out with rival Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant), the handsome bastard with the rapier wit. Then Bridget learns an important lesson about relationships when she lands in a Thai jail on a mistaken drug charge: Upon hearing about her fellow prisoners' travails with boyfriends who beat them up and pimp them out, Bridget comes to the hard-earned realization that matters romantic with Mark can't be so very bad after all, and leads her new, funny-accented friends in a rendition of "Like a Virgin." (Edge of Reason teems with mallet-to-skull song cues: "Everlasting Love," "Crazy in Love," "I'm Not in Love," etc.)
Everybody loves Bridget. Undaunted Mark adores Bridget. His colleague Rebecca has the secret hots for Bridget. Cleaver says Bridget is the best shag ever. Bridget's friends rotate like moons around Bridget's sun, emitting Nancy Reagan lunar beams of encouragement Bridget's way. All this unaccountable admiration is bestowed upon the ne plus ultra of the regressive rom-com heroine, a thirtysomething who displays the rudimentary motor functions, raging id, and darling pucker of a cuddly infant. She could coo and squall and spit up on herself, and her inner circle would rush to give her a bath and some fresh jammies, warm from the dryer.
I look forward to Bridget Jones: Face-First Into the Wedding Cake and Bridget Jones: Dropping the Baby.
BRIDGET JONES: THE EDGE OF REASON WAS DIRECTED BY BEEBAN KIDRON; PRODUCED BY TIM BEVAN, ERIC FELLNER AND JONATHAN CAVENDISH; WRITTEN BY ANDREW DAVIES, HELEN FIELDING, ADAM BROOKS AND RICHARD CURTIS; AND STARS RENÉE ZELLWEGER, HUGH GRANT AND COLIN FIRTH. NOW PLAYING COUNTYWIDE.