Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason

For fans of “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” the sequel, “The Edge of Reason” (whatever THAT means), will feel like a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy of a good picture. It falls into the traps that imperil almost all movie sequels: re-staging the same key moments, over-doing the things that were subtle the first time, and re-making all the same mistakes.

The hair-pulling sissy fight between Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) and Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) was one of the first film’s high points — so why not have them fight again in the sequel! (To be fair, it IS funny a second time.) Bridget (Renee Zellweger) was occasionally tongue-tied around Mark before; so now that they’re dating, let’s have her say the wrong thing ALL the time! And remember how the first film dragged out its obvious resolution for five minutes longer than it needed to? In the sequel, the same obvious resolution is dragged out for 15 minutes! Hooray!

Bridget and Mark have been dating for six weeks now, their relationship defined by her constantly saying obnoxious, rude things in public settings and then wondering why Mark is miffed with her. They break up, I don’t know, maybe a hundred times over the course of the film, and it NEVER GETS OLD. (Until the second time.)

In between all that, Bridget does a lot of wacky things like skydiving, going skiing, accidentally taking drugs, and going to prison in Thailand. She also runs into Daniel Cleaver again, as caddish and glib as ever, just as she’s on one of her post-Mark rebounds.

Hugh Grant, it must be said, is the single most entertaining thing about the film. He’s looking every day of his 44 years — a life of whores and stammering has aged him, apparently — but he remains a charming, rakish presence, perfectly suited to this type of role.

Firth, of course, can do this kind of thing in his sleep, and his character seems flummoxed most of the time by Bridget’s behavior. You wonder what he even sees in her, so ditzy, outlandish and awkward is she.

Zellweger herself is not as lively or committed as she was the first time around, and the film matches her step for mediocre step. It all just feels so … obligatory. There is no new character development, and the screenplay — written by the same crew as the first film and adapted from Helen Fielding’s novel — is only weakly funny. If this were the first film in the series rather than the second, there wouldn’t be a second.

C+ (1 hr., 48 min.; R, a lot of F-words, plenty of vulgarity, some nude paintings.)