Now living in the warmth of romantic comfort with Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) is trying to find peace within herself. Consumed with jealousy over Darcy's sexy and flirty co-worker (Jacinda Barrett), Bridget can't help but screw things up without even trying. When she falls back into the arms of Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant), Bridget must figure out what she really wants from love, and pursue it even if it means spending time in a Thai prison.
In 2001, "Bridget Jones's Diary" detailing the life of the world's most endearing spinster. Three years later, the question for the sequel is, can the material be funny now that Bridget has finally found love? The answer is yes and no, for this uneven sequel isn't afforded the rich opportunities for laughs that blessed the original. Much like Bridget's beloved cigarettes, "Edge of Reason" (IMDb listing) isn't terribly good for you, but it's pretty delightful while it lasts.
A big part of the charm in this follow-up is simply returning to these characters, with their mountains of quirks and peculiarities and their never-ending quest to ruin anything good in their lives. Bridget's journey as a single lady might have ended, but her insecurities and Chaplinesque buffoonery never will. The slapstick leads to big laughs, including a sequence set on a ski trip where Bridget has unfortunately forgotten to mention she can't ski. "Edge of Reason" isn't here to move the heavens. It's here to fulfill the dreams of fans who fell in love with these characters years ago and could spend hours watching them play Scrabble if need be. Besides, "Edge of Reason" gives us another sequence where Darcy and Daniel chase and fight each other. All by itself, that scene redeems many of the sequences that fall oddly flat. A long detour into a Thai prison with Bridget on drug smuggling charges comes immediately to mind as a new plot twist that goes nowhere and provides few laughs.
Just watching Renee Zellweger come back to this, the best role of her career, is enough to bring joy to the proceedings. Gaining back the weight for the role, Zellweger seems even more uncomfortable in her own skin, which adds to Bridget's dilemma of body acceptance. Perfection in a size 14, whatever nagging feelings of doubt were inspired by casting a Texan like Zellweger to portray a celebrated English character are erased this time out. Zellweger owns the role now, and just seeing her onscreen again, clowning it up and beaming the entire time, injects a huge sense of happiness that filmmaker Beeban Kidron (replacing Sharon Maguire) isn't always able to muster in her direction.
There is also help from Colin Firth and especially Hugh Grant as the objects of affection and sometimes repulsion. Firth is always reliable when a character calls for restraint and quiet desire, but he also manages a sly way around a joke. Grant leans in heavily with his trademarked (and spotless) cad persona. The film is uneasy writing a substantial role for Daniel, but Grant's slinky, smutty appearance is just what the film needs, regardless of the messy means it takes to get him in here.
"Edge of Reason" goes down smoothly and should please fans looking for another Bridget fix. Even though this sequel is scraping the bottom of the creative barrel trying to tie all these characters up again, I can't help but hope for more adventures for Bridget in the future. It could go as long the "Police Academy" series, except with British sex jokes, obscure cultural references, and Darcy and Hugh fighting each other into cinematic history.
Filmfodder Grade: B+