Renée Zellwegger is irresistible as Bridget Jones, in this delectable romantic comedy with some sly references to that uber-romantic comedy, Pride and Prejudice. From the opening credits, when we see her singing along with the radio to “All By Myself” in her flannel pajamas, we know that she is destined to find someone who loves her as much as we do already, and that we will have a lot of fun on the way there.
Bridget wants to lose weight, stop smoking and drinking, and stop worrying about getting a boyfriend -– so that she can get a boyfriend. But we know that she is just fine the way she is, and suspect that in her heart, she knows that, too. The trick is finding a guy who knows it, and before she can figure that out, she has to get through the gorgeous cad stage. That means an affair with her workaholic, alcoholic, self-centered, needy, but witty and undeniably extremely gorgeous boss, Daniel.
Hugh Grant seems positively relieved not to have to be the stammering, adorable, truehearted “Notting Hill” guy anymore. He plays the part of Daniel, “a disaster with a posh voice and a terrible character,” with such relish that we enjoy seeing Bridget fall for him almost as much as we enjoy seeing her tell him off.
But being taken advantage of by Daniel is not the worst of Bridget’s trials. There is her mother, who leaves her father for an oily home shopping channel pitchman with a fake tan. There is showing up for a “tarts and vicars” party in a Playboy bunny outfit because no one told her that they had decided not to have the guests wear costumes after all. There is the rather stunning shot of Bridget from below as she slides down a fireman’s pole, broadcast throughout the country on television. And there is the stiff and disapproving childhood neighbor, Mark Darcy, now a divorced barrister, who always seems to be there just as Bridget encounters disaster.
Like his namesake in Pride and Prejudice, though, Darcy turns out to have more tenderness and humor than one would think. And so do the filmmakers. Colin Firth, who played Darcy in the television miniseries “Pride and Prejudice,” appears as this Mr. Darcy as well, and his sly and subtle variation on the character is another of the movie’s great pleasures.
Parents should know that this movie is rated R for strong language and for sexual situations and references. There is a very brief shot of a naked couple making love. Characters drink and smoke a lot.
Families who see this movie should talk about how we sort through all of the expectations of our families and our society in deciding who we will be and what chances we will take. What does someone have to know about herself in order to turn down a Daniel? In order to understand what someone like Darcy has to offer?
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Four Weddings and a Funeral” (rated R) and everyone should watch Firth and Jennifer Ehle in the miniseries version of “Pride and Prejudice.” The classic MGM version with Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson (adapted by Aldous Huxley) is also a treat.