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BRIDGET JONESíS DIARY
Reviewed November 11th, 2001 by Brian White

 

Yes, yes. I KNOW itís a chick flick. Letís get that right out into the open: Bridget Jonesís Diary (shouldnít that be Jonesí?) is a chick flick. I gotta say though, itís a really funny chick flick. Itís almost like British chicks find things funny that North American chicks do not. This ainít Beaches, baby. Think a little closer to Sex and the City. Bridget Jonesís Diary is a very clever, heart-warming movie about a thirty-something single woman living in London. It boasts great performances, and the DVD is very well done.

So whatís the story? Like Oliver Twist, Bridget Jonesís diary started as a series of columns in a British newspaper before being combined into a best-selling novel. Unlike Oliver Twist, Bridget Jonesís diary boasts the liberal use of the word ďfuckĒ and references to all kinds of nasty business between the sheets. The movie is a year in the life of Bridget, who seems to be the poster child for the new wave of single, professional women in their thirties that have infested London (according to the smug married couples in the film), not unlike the characters in Sex and the City. Bridgetís life parallels the story of Pride and Prejudice, as she meets both an appealing scoundrel, and a boring curmudgeon. Bridgetís dizzy misadventures entertain us and reveal so much heart that youíll want to fight over her as well.

In a casting choice that really pissed off the greater British public, the role of Bridget, the quintessential modern British woman, was given to Rene Zellweger, the very American actress. Zellweger brought a mass audience to this very regional fare, and director Sharon McGuire comments in the included featurette that Zellweger also brings an honesty and vulnerability that Bridget requires on screen. Other than a great performance, Zellweger pulls off the accent quite convincingly. Some other interesting casting includes Hugh Grant playing a nasty bastard. Itís great to see him play something with a little more range than what weíve seen of him up until now on this side of the pond. Grant admits that author, Helen Fielding, took something he said to her once and put it into her book, so the character he plays is based on him in a very small way. The funnier casting choice is Colin Firth as Mark Darcy. He played Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, which was on British television (and A & E) around the time that the book was written. His character in Bridget Jones is based on his Mr. Darcy. Hilarious, and ironic.

This is intelligent, but accessible stuff. Bridget Jonesís diary is a great date movie, that wonít put you to sleep or have you reaching for a barf bag. I found this a very entertaining film.

The DVD, in 2.35:1, anamorphic widescreen, looks very good. This is an expensive British movie, and the transfer we have here shows that quite well. It stacks up with big-budget American comedies in the visual department, but there is the addition of some lovely photography done around England. The DVD contains a colorful and detailed transfer.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is also quite good. I noticed quite a bit of split-surround effects from the music that is mixed into the film quite well. Again, this is a big-budget film, and the sound mix makes that obvious. Music is also jazzy cool in on the hip menus.

For Extras, you get a great featurette about the Bridget Jones phenomenon, and its transition to film. The beginning of the featurette sets out its goals as ďto be not too boringĒ and ďnot too promotional.Ē I really wish that other DVD featurette makers could adopt that principal before sticking those GODDAMN HBO promos onto their discs. Also included are a number of deleted scenes. I found these quite entertaining, and was pleased to find them in 5.1 Dolby Digital, and in 2.35:1, anamorphic widescreen to boot. The extras look as good as the film! You also get a feature-length commentary by director Sharon McGuire. McGuire is intimate with many details of the book, as it appears that one of Bridgetís friends is based upon her. She lovingly recounts her experiences on the film, and her opinions about this and that. McGuire is quite an animated character, and I found the commentary quite entertaining. It even earned a disclaimer from the studio! Another great extra on the disc are the Bridget Jones columns that spawned the book, and the movie, and the DVD, and this review.

 

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