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Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (15)

Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: One

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: 4 deleted scenes (with director’s introduction). The mini-break to Austria: Renée does her own stunts. Audio commentary with director Beeban Kidron. The Big Fight: Mark and Daniel at it again! 'Who’s your Ideal Man – Mark or Daniel?' hilarious interactive quiz type thingy. Bridget interviews the real-life Colin Firth (with director’s introduction). Mark and Bridget: Forever? Lonely London.

WELL, the pants are back and they're bigger than ever. But while audiences ought to be cheering the return of Bridget Jones - the nation's favourite singleton - they may find themselves groaning come the movie's end.

The Edge of Reason isn't so much a sequel as a re-run, with Renee Zellweger's neurotic, sturggling journalist still fretting about life and love, despite being in a happy relationship with Colin Firth's Mark D'Arcy, and seemingly determined to do all she can to spoil such domestic bliss.

After one argument too many, Bridget eventually finds herself back on the single trail, where she re-encounters Hugh Grant's rogueish cad, Daniel Cleaver, and heads off to Thailand for a TV travel show, only to wind up in a lot more trouble than even she could have bargained for.

Beeban Kidron's movie, while fun in places, and totally undemanding, is likely to upset viewers for a number of reasons, not least of which is the decision to change certain characters and key plot points from Helen Fielding's popular novel.

As such, the film feels like a lazy affair, content merely to recycle the same gags from the original, while discarding totally some of the novel's more popular aspects.

What's more, it seems to delight in making Bridget even clumsier, turning the character into a virtual caricature of the original, and thrusting her into all manner of embarrassing scenarios, most of which are too over the top to be believable.

Hence, whereas the blend of humour and tragedy was near-perfect first time around, with Bridget a believable and endearing character, The Edge of Reason reduces her to a cartoon heroine, who flaps, panics and over-scrutinises just about every situation she is placed in.

A skiing sequence, in particular, feels more like a Bond parody than anything else, while the singing sequence inside a supposedly terrifying Bangkok prison is, quite frankly, too excruciating for words.

Firth, too, suffers from the curious decision to turn his character into something of a wet drip and the archetypal bumbling Englishman. He only really displays any conviction when squaring up to Grant's womanising Cleaver, in another of the franchise's show-stopping fight sequences, but even his dashing bid to rescue Bridget from her Thai 'hell' is reduced to someone else's conversation.

Together, they are, quite simply, the world's most annoying couple, and you can't help breathing a sigh of relief when Bridget finally leaves him.

Thank God, then, for Hugh Grant, who virtually saves the movie single-handedly. Having captivated audiences first time around with his ability to play against type, he again revels in the chance to play the bastard, toying with Bridget's affections in a bid to get into those pants.

The film is at its funniest whenever he is on-screen and it's a shame that the makers couldn't use more of him, even though he doesn't figure that prominently in the novel.

Of the support players, there are welcome returns for all of Bridget's friends and family, as well as Neil Pearson's irresponsible boss, but none are really given any screen-time to make a particular mark, with Jim Broadbent, especially, feeling wasted as Bridget's father.

As a Friday night crowd-pleaser, The Edge of Reason will no doubt perform wonders at the Box Office, esepcially given the enduring popularity of the book and the original movie.

Yet the sequel pales by comparison to both and represents a very disappointing entry into Bridget's diary.

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