Comedy sequels are always a tricky thing, especially when your first one was such a success. 2001’s “Bridget Jones’ Diary” was beloved by a lot of people, especially women, because quite frankly it was funny. Renee Zellweger gave her best performance to date as a woman in her early 30’s whom many of us can easily sympathise with because most of us are like her.
Someone who’s a little overweight, at times clumsy, indulges in a lot of bad habits, dreadfully insecure about everything and most of all – looking for that certain someone to sweep us off our feet and make all right with the world. Combine that with the frankness and more biting humour endemic to British cinema and the result was simply a great light comedy.
The sequel however is not so glamorous. Attempting to broaden the laughs has resulted in a comedy that when it’s not repeating the gags from the first film, is instead finding itself mired in attempts to do bigger and sillier gags that end up undermining the central premise of the “Bridget” universe and feel out of place.
Unlike the first film’s ‘cinderella’ style subplot about self-acceptance and ‘getting the guy’, most of this film revolves around forced attempts to break them up before the obvious recompence. Whereas Bridget’s insecurity in the first film comes off as reasonable and easy to empathise with, here it borders on paranoia and severe mistrust which is not so endearing.
This turn from cute to a somewhat borderline psycho lead and much of the early part of the film meanders around her and Firth getting into arguments over the silliest things, including a tired ‘hot secretary’ subplot, that any logical person could sort out in a minute. When the action shifts away from the melodramatics, we take a welcome break in Thailand with the film’s only real strong point – Hugh Grant.
Grant’s sex-obsessed naughty boy Daniel Cleaver routine is great fun and both he and Renee’s early scenes together where they consider a holiday shag are the film’s funnest scenes. Still, his character is played with a little too much negativity this time, unlike Firth who’s impossibly good Mark Darcy is way too gentlemanly to be real.
Then the movie veers off into a bad “Bangkok Hilton” ripoff with Bridget in prison teaching Thai hookers Madonna songs. At this point the film has gone completely off the rails and is hopelessly unrealistic.
The action back in London doesn’t help either with an entirely predictable conclusion and another Grant/Firth fist fight which, whilst brilliantly clever in the original, is just tired and overdone this time around. Beeban Kidron’s direction has a few good moments such as a long shot of couples throughout London’s apartment windows making out, but struggles to handle the more fantastical elements of the story. One diary not worth keeping.