Movie Name: Bridget Jones’s Diary
Release Date(s): April 4, 2001 (Premiere)/April 13, 2001
MPAA Rating: R
It is a new year and after a disastrous party at her parents, Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) intends to make the most of it by turning her life around and writing it down in her new diary. When her boss Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) makes a move on her, Bridget starts a surprise relationship. Unfortunately, Bridget also keeps running into an old childhood neighbor Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) who she doesn’t want to see. Bridget is changing her life, and she’s going to choose the direction that she was to head.
Directed by Sharon Maguire, Bridget Jones’s Diary is based on the hit 1996 novel by Helen Fielding. The film caused controversy for casting American Renee Zellweger for what many felt was the quintessential modern English woman but ended up winning audiences and critical acclaim. Zellweger received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for the role.
Bridget Jones’s Diary is one of those “chick flick” movies that doesn’t feel as “chick flick-y” despite being one of the ultimate examples of the genre. The movie is basically a modern Pride and Prejudice (admittedly so by Fielding) with Bridget choosing between two guys with qualities that opposite but it does it with a lot of humor and modern appeal.
The story in that sense is rather goofy and cliché. The character has this desperate need for companionship that feels a bit beneath her independent nature. The difference is that she’s choosing her own path, but she does come off as someone who’s rather desperate. You can basically guess who she’s going to end up with at the onset of the film, and it is kind of irritating that you have to stand by and watch her screw up until she gets it right in her head.
What makes the silly story work is the cast. Renee Zellweger put on weight for the role, got the accent down, and is genuinely charming (harkening back to her Jerry Maguire days). She has that thing that is attractive so you could see her winning both very different male leads. Hugh Grant and Colin Firth are also aptly cast with Grant playing the reckless and carefree choice and Firth playing the responsible and safe character. There is also a nice supporting cast with Jim Broadbent, Gemma Jones, James Callis, Shirley Henderson, and Sally Phillips with cameos by authors Salman Rushdie and Jeffrey Archer (Honor Blackman also cameos in the movie).
The movie also benefits from nice shooting. It is a pretty standard comedy, but it looks good. This always adds to a comedy film. Something like Bridget Jones’s Diary just looks classier than something like American Pie…it has more style.
Bridget Jones’s Diary is one of those movies that everyone can find something about it to enjoy. The movie is worth seeking out. With the success of the film and a sequel written by the author, a sequel was destined to happen. Bridget Jones’s Diary was followed by Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason in 2004.