An amiable sequel to a popular hit, Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason coasts on the charisma of Renée Zellweger. The American star once again excels as the British everygirl torn between the dashing Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) and dependable Mark Darcy (Colin Firth). It's just a pity her performance isn't matched by any originality in the script, which recycles the first Diary's jokes and flashpoints - the fight, the silly jumpers, the big pants - to diminishing effect. It's chucklesome but strained.
The low point is surely a stopover in a Thai jail where - for reasons not worth going into - Bridget bemoans her rocky relationship with Mark. The battered prostitutes around her exclaim, "What your bad boyfriend do?", which puts her problems into perspective but is an unbalancing reminder of non-romantic comedy reality. It highlights how silly and trivial our heroine is being, and makes the film feel silly and trivial, too.
"LACKS THE ELEMENT OF SURPRISE"
And you have to feel for Firth. An actor whose considerable abilities were showcased in Trauma is given a character so repressed and uptight, you don't want him to get the girl. In contrast, Grant once again steals every scene he's in - his old school cad IS cheeky, shameless, and gleefully un-PC (never mind another Diary: how about Daniel Cleaver's Journal?).
The script shows a keen sense for social embarrassment, whether Bridget is revealing intimate thoughts on speakerphone or insulting blue-blooded Tories. The trouble is that in the original, these faux pas were endearing. Here they begin to grate. It has become harder to see the attraction of Jones: the character has become something of a cartoon. It's testament to Zellweger's likeability and skill that the film is still enjoyable, but it lacks the element of surprise. The Edge Of Reason is rather blunt.