2½ stars (out of 4)
It really was simple back then: We fell in love with Bridget Jones because Bridget Jones was a lot like us. She had a weakness for cocktails and cigarettes, a misguided fashion sense, wasn't too prim, wasn't too popular and, famously, wasn't too thin.
The trouble with Bridget redux, "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason," is also simple: Thai jail.
Instead of dirty e-mailing her boss or dressing like a Playboy bunny, Bridget finds herself at the center of an international drug smuggling operation and, eventually, in a Thai prison. This is not a lot like us. (Although I did have this friend once who oh, never mind.)
The second coming of bloated Renee Zellweger begins six weeks into Bridget's relationship with Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), the square human rights lawyer who made hearts melt the first time around with the line, "I like you just as you are." Turns out, he doesn't. Bridget's bleeding heart and busting seams don't exactly play in stuffy Lawyerland or on an Austrian mini-break. And Mark's meticulously folded undergarments, fondness for balding conservatives and Eton pedigree aren't a match for Bridget's fly-by-night foibles.
News flash: Love ain't easy.
Of course, thirtysomething singledom is worse, so Bridget suppresses hang-ups (though jealousy, which runs rampant whenever Mark's leggy coworker Rebecca appears, drives her to climb balconies and hang from shingles) and buckles down at work. She's now, if you'll recall, a serious journalist on the "news" show, "Sit Up Britain," which airs on the same network as a new travel program, "The Smooth Guide," starring everyone's favorite lout, Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant, still scrumptious the second time around).
With London being such a small hamlet and all, Daniel, Mark and Bridget can't help but bump into each other every other second, so it's no wonder that soon enough Bridget and her accident-prone bottom are tapped to co-host "Smooth Guide" with self-proclaimed snake-no-more Daniel (who, for newbies, is Bridget's ex-lover and ex-bosswho slept with Mark's ex-wife, if you must know).
The show lands Bridget and Daniel in Thailand, where, after Bridget waddles through a hackneyed mushroom trip and star gazes with the reformed slimeball, her aforementioned narcotics incident ensues, as does a jaw-dropping scene involving the Brit, her bra and a chorus of imprisoned Thai girls performing Madonna's greatest hits. As in the original, pop music is an integral storytelling device. Sade is to Bridget as Barry White was to Ally McBeal.
Working from an adapted version of Helen Fielding's chic-lit sequel, director Beeban Kidron has the unfortunate job of widening scope, taking Bridget away from her London comfort zonewhere quirks and everygirl insecurities remained wholly urbanand forcing her specific brand of deliciousness into the world at large. (Remember when the Muppets went to Treasure Island? Bad idea.)
Strip away this supplemental buffoonery and you're left with, again, a love triangle, one not nearly so charming when Firth's squeamish affection looks a lot like disdain and Zellweger's regained plump looks a lot like a thyroid disorder."Edge of Reason" only rises above the schlock when it recalls the charisma of "Bridget Jones's Diary." Our friend is best guzzling Chardonnay in the corner, sneaking a drag and cuddling with friends Ben and Jerrynot misinterpreting a cliched answering machine message in Mark's stainless steel kitchen like another Meg Ryan.
Sadly, it seems, we've grown apart.
'Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason'
Directed by Beeban Kidron; screenplay by Andrew Davies, Helen Fielding, Richard Curtis and Adam Brooks; based on the novel by Fielding; photographed by Adrian Biddle; edited by Greg Hayden; production designed by Gemma Jackson; music by Harry Gregson-Williams; produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Jonathan Cavendish. A Universal Studios release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:47. MPAA rating: R (language and some sexual content).
Bridget Jones - Renee Zellweger
Mark Darcy - Colin Firth
Daniel Cleaver - Hugh Grant
Dad - Jim Broadbent
Mum - Gemma Jones
Rebecca - Jacinda Barrett