J.D. Lafrance
Bridget Jones’s Diary: Collector’s Edition DVD Review

Bridget Jones’s Diary: Collector’s Edition

June 27, 2005

Director: Sharon Maguire,
Starring: Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Hugh Grant, Jim Broadbent, Gemma Jones, Sally Phillips, James Callis, Shirley Henderson, Embeth Davitz, Paul Brooke, Felicity Montagu, ,

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DVD Review

J.D. Lafrance

Before Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) was released in theatres, much was made of the casting of soft-spoken American (from Texas no less!), Renee Zellweger as the very British Bridget Jones. It was seen as almost heresy by fans of Helen Fielding’s very popular book of the same name. To almost everyone’s surprise, Zellweger pulled it off with a credible British accent and a real commitment to the role (she even put on weight). Now, on the eve of the new Bridget Jones movie—The Edge of Reason (2004), Miramax has gone back to the well with a brand new Collector’s Edition DVD that promises new extras but is it really worth the double-dip?

Bridget (Zellweger) is a sworn bachelorette. She has her family and friends but despite her defiantly single stance the biological clock is always ticking. Bridget finds herself looking for Mr. Right. She does fancy her roguish boss, Daniel Cleaver (Grant), but also finds herself strangely drawn to the repressed and distant Mark Darcy (Firth).

Bridget is not some ultra-thin model (or “American stick insect” as she calls the glamorous New York City career girl that Daniel cheats on her with) type but a full-bodied woman who sometimes acts awkward in social situations, including showing up to a party dressed like some kind of Playboy bunny. Bridget is instantly relatable and immediately gets our sympathy. We care about what happens to her and become emotionally invested in her and her world.

The film’s screenplay, co-written by Fielding and the always reliable Richard Curtis, offers all kinds of astute observations about single life and the pressure society and the media puts on us to find a mate and get married. Not to mention, the film is insanely quotable with many, many memorable bits of dialogue.

Renee Zellweger is willing to put herself out there, successfully embodying this British phenomenon. She is also willing to look silly and poke fun at herself. However, the way she is lit and the warm colours that surround her, highlight Zellweger’s luminescent, beautiful pink skin. Director Sharon Maguire champions her voluptuous physique and doesn’t hide how she looks. There are lingering shots of Bridget getting dressed, which is refreshing in this day and age. Zellweger is Bridget Jones and looking back at the film three years later, one would be hard pressed to think of anyone else in the role.

After being type cast as the meek nice guy in films like Notting Hill (1999) and Mickey Blue Eyes (1999), Hugh Grant is cast against type as a raunchy cad. It gives the actor a chance to poke fun at his own image and it gave his career a much-needed shot in the arm, allowing him to branch out and play more flawed characters, like his wonderful turn in About a Boy (2002).

At the time, Colin Firth was period piece guy. He shot to success as the thinking women’s sex symbol in A&E’s production of Pride and Prejudice (1995) and Bridget Jones firmly established him on the contemporary pop culture map. At first, Mark seems like a stuck up, cold fish but over the course of the film his true feelings for Bridget become apparent. Firth has an uncanny ability of conveying repressed, unrequited feelings. It’s all in his eyes, which are very expressive.

Special Features:

There is an audio commentary with director Sharon Maguire. She compares Zellweger’s physical comedic abilities with that of Lucille Ball. Maguire also mentions that she wanted Hugh Grant to play a “sexy bastard” because she never believed his nice guy roles. Maguire comes across as soft-spoken but delivers an informative track as she talks at length about making the movie, praises her cast and discusses translating the book to the big screen.

One of the new extras to this DVD is “The Young and the Mateless (an expert’s guide to being single).” It examines the single women scene with soundbites from successful stories, like the editor-in-chief of Allure magazine and a writer from Sex and the City. They talk about how single women are portrayed in popular culture and in our society.

“The Bridget Phenomenon” is another new extra that looks at the success of the movie and how it perfectly epitomized single womanhood. There are interviews with Maguire and the cast with footage from the new movie. This is a nice look at the appeal of the Bridget Jones character.

“Behind-the-Scenes Featurette” is a slightly cheeky take on the standard promotional press kit with interview soundbites from the cast and crew mixed with clips from the movie.

Another new extra is “Portrait of the Makeup Artist,” which features a profile on Graham Johnston who did the make-up for both Bridget Jones movies. He talks about the importance of what he does in the movies and, of course, the look he gave Bridget. He also dishes on what he uses to achieve her look.

There are also four TV spots advertising the movie which is new to this DVD.

Seven deleted scenes totaling 11 minutes in length include an embarrassing marketing presentation that Bridget does for a book. There is also a nice scene between Bridget and her dad (Broadbent). Also of interest is an epilogue of sorts that is a sly homage to When Harry Met Sally (1989).

There is also a theatrical trailer for the new Bridget Jones movie, The Edge of Reason.

Fans of the original Helen Fielding columns are in for a treat as a collection of several of them from various years are included. They range from originals that inspired the first movie to more recent ones that make up the bulk of the second movie.

A new extra to this DVD is “A Guide to Bridget Britishisms” that features clips from the movie explaining common British slang, like “fanny about”, “daft” and “wanker.”

Finally, there are five reviews of the first movie from the likes of Rolling Stone, USA Today and Roger Ebert.

Fans who have the first DVD that was released might want to hold on to it as the music videos by Shelby Lynne and Gabrielle are not included on this new one.

Bridget Jones’s Diary is much more than just the quintessential single woman’s survival guide. It is a funny and engaging romantic comedy that champions a more realistic image of women. Bridget Jones is the photo negative of The Sex and the City women. She is not like them, with their perfect shoes and witty repartee. Bridget would be watching that show and not be on it. And this is part of the appeal of this movie to the average woman. This DVD is quite good. The new extras are entertaining but probably not worth buying the DVD over again unless you’re a die hard Bridget fan.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance


Rating: 96%



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