Lest my frequent readers fret, in the uncharacteristic delay between opening weekend of this film and the review, please know it was not hesitation as to my thoughts on the film! I saw BJD twice opening weekend and again just this past weekend, and I am certain it will wend its way into my DVD collection ere long. So yeah, I liked it. My constant readers know that I am not a Renee Zellweger fan, but I am a fan of the book, and so I eagerly anticipated the release regardless of my hesitations about the star. I was delighted with the result. I also hope that Colin Firth will finally get a proper following here in the States beyond all of us geeks who watch and rewatch the A&E/BBC Pride and Prejudice (now available on DVD). Thank goodness the screenplay was partially written by the book’s author Helen Fielding, because the ruination potential for such a book, with such a following, is quite high. Few are the ladies I know who have not read it and loved it. Did I mention I saw it twice opening weekend?
Never mind all the attendant press about how Miss Z (my height) bulked up to *my* weight (with considerably more prominent breasts I might add) in order to play the part – I still admire her work in this film. She’s very brave, by Hollywood standards, which means all of us who are not 5’5″ and 80 lbs. as Hollywood seems to expect are also equally brave, just for living our daily lives! Bonus points for the gals watching. Renee’s portrayal of Bridget, with all Bridget’s insecurities, faux pas, bad habits, and sad, solo comforts was humiliatingly real. She was pathetic, she was sturdy of spine, she was utterly comprehensible, and, bless her Katy, TX, heart, her accent was just fine. So if you’ve not seen it because of her, get over *that* right away.
Enough about her. She’s the star, she’s getting all the press anyway. We love her friends: not enough of them. We love her parents; lovely casting for all of the above. Excellent choices were made on when to keep the book’s content and when to utterly digress from it. Fans will be delighted by the “new” scenes, because of course they too are utterly plausible in the world of the story. My character expectations for Natasha and Sit Up Britain’s Richard were elevated too high by the spectacular book on tape, narrated by Tracie Bennett (and how funny is THAT – the Bennetts were the main family in P & P), but what twaddle to complain of in the face of such a triumph of book-to-movie. Perhaps more diary would have been fun, but I didn’t feel the film lacked for missing the “Telling self to stop obsessing v. foolish. Will do no more of same.” tone of the book. The dialogue (no doubt largely thanks to Fielding) is true, the awkwardness and tension is palpable, and Renee has duly portrayed that new literary icon of us all.
Real Bridget fans have of course been gushing hysterically to confused fellow movie audiences about the delicious irony of casting Colin Firth as Mark Darcy. Never mind that BJD is a thinly veiled update of Pride & Prejudice (much as Clueless updated Emma), and how delectable it is that Firth played Mr. Darcy in the aforementioned miniseries of the same book – it is also super-delicious that the very characters of the book would watch the miniseries on video obsessively, crooning over Firth as Darcy. It’s the best serendipitous (by design) casting since – since (multiple brains and search engines probe for an answer) – since ever! Mmmm Darcy.
I love Hugh Grant. I can’t help it. Even his detractors concede that his casting as Bridget’s charming, disarming boss Daniel Cleaver is perfect. The first shot of Grant, on the elevator, says it all. Grant non-fans should also allow that this role is utterly different than that which he had in Notting Hill, proving that he is indeed versatile. Grant fans will enjoy his chest. And even guys have enjoyed this film. Sadly, like Working Title’s last Grant foray, Notting Hill, the score is amusing, but the soundtrack is equally obvious and tiresome, taking all the fun out of running out and buying it. Go see it, as if you didn’t already.
MPAA Rating R- language, sexuality
Release date 4/13/01
Time in minutes 94
Director Sharon Maguire