It’s hard to imagine a cinematic universe like Bridget Jones’s Diary, but here we are. A few decades out, it looks like Renee Zellweger’s launch vehicle pioneered the concept that Disney’s Marvel would later perfect. With no less than three movies in the saga, Bridget Jones certainly has a story to tell.
The only question is whether or not this is relevant for modern audiences. Basically, we are asking the age-old question about whether this has “withstood the test of time” or not. Here, the question might be best answered on an idiosyncratic basis.
Given that, we will try to present the story and film within the context of its time and highlight some things that were enjoyable and some that might give audiences pause.
How to Download Bridget Jones’s Diary
You can download or stream the film from a digital platform. Click on the Download button at the end of this review and make your choice. If you like romantic comedies, check out also The Lost City, Marry Me. Mr. & Mrs. Smith or Ticket to Paradise.
The Movie Review
The first thing that will give most modern viewers pause is that all of the film’s action seems to be kicked off by Mark’s low opinion of Bridget’s way of life. In this instance, we have him openly expressing his distaste for her and her behaviors and this apparently sets off a chain of self-reflective events that cause Bridget Jones to reevaluate her life.
It is important to note that she jots all of this down in her diary as well as the rightfully earned and deserved low opinion she has of Mark. This is important later in the story.
What unfolds is a tale of a woman changing herself to overcome perceived shortcomings outlined by Mark in the beginning and fantasizing about her boss, Daniel (played smarmily by Hugh Grant). Again, it is hard to imagine, from a modern lens, that this was the material that kicked off no less than three films.
Comical hijinks ensue, to one degree or another, and we find that Bridget Jones’ diary approaches relationships with a kind of disposability that is later undermined by the faux gravitas it attempts to imbue the characters with later in the film.
Without belaboring the plot or revealing too much, we find out that one guy is a total creep, the other guy “changes his mind” after Bridget Jones changes her ways, and none of it seems like it is going to work out. New jobs in exotic locales threaten to end budding relationships and the like.
If we were to award bonus points for reinventing the wheel here, we would have to withhold them as all of this is somewhat paint by the numbers and expected at this point.
And what do you know?
She realizes she’s fallen in love with the guy that absolutely thrashed her to his parents. What a message.
Naturally, he finds what she wrote about him earlier in the eponymous diary and, instead of having a moment of self-reflection and a thought of like “yeah I was kind of a jerk” he storms out into the snow, bound for an exotic locale and a new job with some woman to whom he is currently engaged.
Of course, said woman is named Natasha with all that brings with it from the 1990s. Our heroine chases after him, running out in the snow, bringing full circle her quest to appease this engaged man and his very specific needs for a partner. But, alas, she doesn’t find him, and the audience is left worrying about our heroine yet then he appears, with a new diary in hand signaling the time for a “fresh start.”
Don’t forget all of this is supposed to be a comedy instead of some kind of tragedy. What messages this has about relationships, gender dynamics, and the like for the modern era we don’t know but it seems like something of its time and it is probably best to take the film in that context.
- Some earnest attempts at slapstick-style comedy help alleviate the otherwise heavy romance elements
- Renee Zellweger really carries the film
- The world is fully developed and believable
- Somewhat dated notions of dating and how that all works
- Characters are often vehicles for stereotypes rather than being full actualized beings
- Can audiences fall in love with a man so free with his criticisms and so willing to ditch a current relationship for Bridget Jones?