Bridget Jones’s Diary [retro review]

“Bridget Jones, wanton sex goddess”

The Scoop: 2001 R, directed by Sharon Maguire and starring Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, and Hugh Grant

Tagline: Uninhibited. Uncensored. Unmarried.

Summary Capsule: Thirtysomething Brit singleton seeks love between two twits

Justin’s Rating: Oh, bludy el.

Justin’s Review: This movie was terribly close to hitting my panic button. This is a largely imaginary button that I have that allows me to bail on a film should it be way too chick-ish for my tastes. You know, a two hour in-depth exploration of feelings, relationships, and makeup coordination with a number of Lilith Fair bands headlining the soundtrack. All I have to do is hit the panic button, and I am instantly ejected from EstrogenZone to a land full of milk and honey and numerous grenade explosions. Bridget Jones’s Diary came close, but scratched my itchy trigger finger enough so that I stuck it out.

Maybe this is my way of telling you guys that BJD isn’t half-bad, for a chick flick.

First off, Renée Zigazigaha is a cutie, and with the much-ballyhooed extra weight gained for the role, she actually looks like a normal, attractive human being without protruding bone corners that look extremely dangerous to be around. Bridget (Renée) is also British, which means she has this accent I could listen to for hours on end. What is it about a foreign accent in a member of the opposite sex that is so incredibly sexy, I ask you? And how come it doesn’t work for me? I can’t go to, say, France and start talking and have women swooning at my feet due to my exotic Indiana accent. The turnstiles just don’t swing in my direction, I guess.

Bridget is smack dab in the middle of Singleness Hell, signified by her lack of a stable dating life, family and friends constantly harping on her to get hitched, and (in what may be the best in-joke of the film) a growing affinity for the film Fatal Attraction. Most of this commentary on singlehood life didn’t exactly relate to my line of gender. I suspect that girls have it much worse than guys when they’re single and everyone around them is attached. However, I was incredibly loving the film’s jabs against couples. I have nothing personal against couples. Heck, I’m glad when people hook up and fall in love and become mutual parasitic partners.

But I have had enough of the tendencies for couples to be extremely condescending toward single people. If I have to hear one more person in a current relationship verbally pat me on the head by saying, “Oh, it’ll happen, Justin. Just give it time. Don’t try to make it happen, it just will,” I might have to start drinking blood or something to gain unholy powers. Just because you’re in a relationship and we’re not does not give you ultimate authority to judge our (lack of) love lives and nod with Ghandi-esque wisdom as to our assured future. Just leave us alone, and we’ll stop stealing your firstborn in exchange for spun gold, okay?

So anyway, I was definitely cracking up at Bridget’s inner monologue that attacked, shredded and raged against family and friends who unwittingly compounded her personal worries. Under the guise of writing daily diary entries, she exposes the audience to extreme British vocabulary (big words in foreign accent is also mucho sexy). It boils down to a choice between Hugh Grant and this other stuffy unknown Brit guy, and I think I speak for the rest of us when I say I’m surprised she didn’t start looking at sheep in a new light at this point.

Guys, I know Hugh Grant scares you. Rest assured, he gets punched multiple times in the face in this movie. That should be enough to comfort you.

BJD was consistantly funny, playing fast and loose with inner monologue and Ally McBeal-style fantasies. My favorite moment came fairly early on, when Bridget was caught in a lie by her boss. Dumbfounded on screen, a single word epithet played out in subtitles, stretched from left to right. Small, but man did I laugh. Also, she dresses as a bunny prostitute, which is another fine reason to give Renée an Oscar.

It’s not perfect. The laughs die down toward the end, and we’re duped into another extremely typical onscreen relationship conundrum. But take some time to admire how cool the streets of London look, and write to Santa this Christmas for a Bridget Jones of your very own.

Clare’s Rating: v.v. good

Clare’s Review: All right people. Let’s get this straight. I am not a girlie girl. I have some girlie tendencies and certainly have all the right girlie equipment, but by and large I don’t subscribe to most of the major girl stereotypes. So I figured that this movie, based on a book with the same title, about some whiney Brit who can’t think of anything but her weight and sex would be a tedious exercise in how lame women can be. Then I read Justin’s review and decided that if he found something redeeming about it, maybe I would too.

The fact of the matter is that I didn’t know Bridget Jones’s Diary was just a retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice set in modern times. If I had, I would have seen it in the theaters. I found Renee Zelwhatever to be charming, funny and realistic. Plus, she did all sorts of embarrassing things both publicly and privately that I, queen of falling down at inopportune moments, found truly hilarious. I hate Hugh Grant, but actually liked him in this because he didn’t play the same goofy grinning pile of boredom and stammering that he usually does.

Lots has been said about how Renee Zelwhatever gained (gasp!) 25 pounds to play Bridget. She looked perfectly normal to me and healthier than I’ve seen her looking as of late but I come from a place called reality where the average woman is a size 12 and weighs between 130 and 150 pounds. Either way, Bridget’s granny panty dilemma is one that most women can relate to and is also one that provides one of the funnier scenes in the film.

So basically, if you feel like you’re way too macho for a girl movie or if you feel like Bridget Jones’s Diary looked really stupid and unwatchable from the previews, I would implore you to rethink your decision and give this one a gander. I was surprised by how much I liked it, and I think you probably will be too.

Andie’s Rating: I wish it would start raining men….maybe I could get a date.

Andie’s Review: I went out and saw Bridget Jones when it was first released in the theater. I knew from the previews that I was going to enjoy it, but I had no idea how much I would absolutely love it. And I went back and rented it the other day and fell in love with it all over again. I can identify with Bridget Jones SOOOOO much it’s scary. I mean, I don’t ever have two guys as cute as Hugh Grant and Colin Firth fighting over me, but other than that we are one and the same.

Bridget Jones is your average, run of the mill girl who is attractive, but not traffic-stopping. Her personality, however, makes her more attractive the more you get to know her. She works at a publishing company and starts to have an affair with her boss, Daniel Cleaver, while also constantly bumping into a boy she knew when she was little who has grown up into a handsome man named Mark Darcy. The two men have a troubled history and end up literally fighting over Bridget, but everything works out in the end.

I love everything about this movie. I love that Renee Zellweger put on some weight to play Bridget so that she actually looked like a normal human being and not a lollipop. I love that she lip syncs to All By Myself because I do that sort of thing all the time. Except that I’m not lip syncing, I’m actually singing and I’m very loud and obnoxious. I love that her three best friends are a neurotic girl, a gay man and a girl who swears like a sailor. I love that just after she describes to her diary what kind of man she won’t go out with anymore, Hugh Grant is the next shot we see. I love that she can’t cook and serves her friends blue soup. I love when she gets caught lying and a word that I can’t put in this review scrolls across the screen with an exorbitant number of U’s in it. I love that Mark and Daniel have a knock-down-drag-out fight over Bridget while “It’s Raining Men” plays in the background. And I especially love that she goes tearing down the street in zebra print panties and a cardigan, in the snow, to chase the man that she loves.

To me, Bridget Jones’ Diary is a realistic love story. It’s realistic because it is not a straight line of her getting together with her man. It’s realistic because she’s not perfect, she’s a complete mess and he loves her anyway. So obviously I love this movie. And it’s not a chick flick, I know a lot of guys who were forced to see this and ended up really liking it. So go check it out. “It’s rainin’ men! Hallelujah, it’s raining men! Hey hey hey”

You are now sterile for having seen these

Intermission!

  • Bridget Jones’s Diary bears certain resemblance to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and also features a number of veterans of Austen film adaptations
  • The Japanese are a cruel race.
  • The Peter Gunn theme as Bridget is getting ready for her date
  • The film has different end credits in different countries. In America, end credits show a young Bridget and Marc Darcy running around the backyard and paddling pool in a home video; in Australia, a montage of stills is shown, plus “interviews” about Bridget and Darcy with Daniel Cleaver, Marc’s parents and Bridget’s boss.
  • Actress Renée Zellweger gained a reported 25 lbs. to play Bridget Jones. She actually worked at a British publishing company for a month in preparation for the role. She adopted an alias as well as her posh accent and was apparently not recognized.
  • Renée Zellweger smoked herbal cigarettes rather than tobacco.
  • Both leading actors’ names, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant, are mentioned in the book. The first on “Tuesday 24 October” and the second on “Wednesday 16 August”. Colin Firth is himself a featured character in the book’s sequel, “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason”. While filmgoers were eager to see Hugh Grant play a character opposite to his usual type-cast, it is ironic that original author Helen Fielding describes him, in real life, as being more like Daniel Cleaver, than any of his “normal” roles.

Groovy Quotes

Bridget Jones: This calls for some really tiny knickers!

Bridget: [to Daniel, as she is quitting] If working here means I am within 10 yards of you, I would rather wipe Saddam Hussein’s arse!

Interviewer: What do you think about the El Niño phenomenon?
Bridget Jones: It’s a blip. Latin music’s on its way out.

Bridget Jones: [answering phone] Bridget Jones, wanton sex goddess, with a very bad man between her thighs. …Mum!

Tom: Whose side are we on?
Shazzer: Mark’s of course. He did leave Bridget for a naked American!
Bridget Jones: But he did run off with Daniel’s fiancee and left him broken-hearted.
Tom: You’re right, it’s such a tough one to call!

Bridget Jones: Here is the man we like to call Mr., uh, [to herself] Titspervert! Titspervert! [to audience] Fitzherbert. Because… that is his name.

Mark: Alright Cleaver, outside.
Daniel: Outside? Should I bring my dueling pistol or my sword?

Bridget: It’s only a diary. Everyone knows that diaries are full of crap.

Mark Darcy: Mother, I do not need a blind date. Particularly not with some verbally incontinent spinster who drinks like a fish, smokes like a chimney and dresses like her mother.

Bridget: Daniel, what you just did is actually illegal in several countries.
Daniel: That is one of the reasons that I’m so happy to be living in Britain today.

Bridget: It is a truth universally acknowledged that when one part of your life starts going okay, another falls spectacularly to pieces.

Bridget: Bridget Jones, with Sit Up Britain, looking for the tuna!

Daniel: Oh this silly little black dress, these silly little boots and these silly li…Panties! They’re enormous! Just look at these enormous panties!

Bridget: Now, I’ll go home and de-bunny.

Mark: Natasha, this is Bridget Jones. Bridget works in a publishing house and she used to play around naked in my paddling pool.

Bridget: My mum, a strange creature from the time when pickles on toothpicks were still the height of sophistication.

Bridget: Hi, you like me just the way I am.

Richard Finch: Why do you wanna work on television?
Bridget Jones: I’ve got to leave my job, because I shagged my boss.
Richard Finch: Fair enough. Start in Monday.

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • Jerry McGuire
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Cruel Intentions
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13 Comments

  1. Just a couple of pieces for Intermission:

    1) the Pride and Predjudice similarities aren’t a coincidence. Helen Fielding wrote a large part of BJD while watching a landmark TV mini-series adaptation of P&P. She actually based the character of Mark Darcy on Mr Darcy, who was played by none other than Colin Firth. An actual case of Dream Casting.

    2) There’s an absolutely delicious in-joke that not many people outside Britain would pick up. When Bridget goes for her interview at the TV station, Richard Finch is played by Neil Pearson. One of Pearson’s most famous roles was in the critically worshipped (for good cause) comedy series Drop the Dead Donkey, set in a TV newsroom. He played news editor Dave Charnley, who was such a rampant man-ho that he made Daniel look like a amateur (several episodes every season had a cast member looking around the newsroom and seeing anywhere from three to six staff members whose wives Dave had slept with). So when Pearson tells Bridget that no one ever gets in trouble at the TV station for sleeping with the boss, anyone who’s ever seen DTDD would have been rolling on the floor laughing.

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