Bridget Jones's Diary on DVD
Renée Zellweger, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Gemma Jones, Jim Broadbent, James Callis, Shirley Henderson, Sally Phillips. Directed by Sharon Maguire. Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 (anamorphic).Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby Digital 2.0 (French). 98 minutes. 2001. Disney Studios B00003CXT7. R. $29.99.
Based on Helen Fielding's best-selling novel, Bridget Jones's Diary humorously explores one oddball singleton's quest for love. For all their contemporary flair, novel and film both are loosely based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. The novel consists of Bridget's (Renée Zellweger) irreverent and witty diary entries, the tone of which the filn strives to capture. This comes across when Bridget confesses her fear of dying alone and being eaten by Alsatian dogs, while resenting the "smug marrieds" she encounters at various dinner parties.
In a world in which romance is a religion, thirtysomething Bridget is tired of being single. Living in London and working at a publishing house, she finds herself getting older but nowhere closer to having a committed, functional relationship. Starting off the new year with a new diary, Jones vows to cut down on drinking and overeating and to avoid becoming a "tragic spinster."
At a New Year's turkey-curry buffet, Bridget meets the taciturn Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), a human-rights barrister, and manages to blather her way through the introduction, utterly disgusting Darcy, whom she later overhears calling her a "verbally incontinent spinster." No matter—Bridget has her eye on her playboy boss, Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant), and flirts her way into a fling with him. For once, Hugh Grant plays a slimeball, and he's fabulously devious. When things go bad with Daniel, Bridget chooses "vodka and Chaka Khan."
Texan Zellweger created a stir when it was announced she would be playing the beloved Brit, but her English accent has been called "spot on." She also gained 17 pounds for the role, to be true to the character's obsessive weight complex. As for her acting, she shines at self-deprecation, whether subtle or outrageous.
Colin Firth gives a strong but understated performance, conveying Darcy's passion for Bridget through his smoldering looks. Jane Austen's Mr. Darcy was also aloof—and was also played by Firth, in the 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice.
Bridget's parents (Jim Broadbent and Gemma Jones) provide a humorous side plot: feeling neglected at home, Bridget's dingy mother plays the field. Bridget lends an ear to her parents, but we sympathize with her when her mom admits, "Given my chance again, I'm not sure I'd have any [children]."
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is average for a romantic comedy, but nothing special; it consists mostly of dialogue with few surround effects. However, the British accents sound crystal clear and the soundstage is very warm. The anamorphic presentation is very clean, without noticeable flaw, and the lively DVD menus are fairly simple. The bonus materials are "v. good," as Bridget would write. A 15-minute behind-the-scenes featurette provides background information about the casting and filming, plus comments from Fielding. Also included are two music videos: Shelby Lynne's "Killin' Kind" and Gabrielle's "Out of Reach." A few of the original Bridget Jones newspaper columns, which provided the springboard for Fielding's book, can be read on screen.
Director Sharon Maguire's commentary track offers amusing details about the project—such as the fact that Maguire is a longtime friend of Fielding's, which made the film close to her heart. Best of all are the seven deleted scenes, most of them incredibly funny. The American and British endings also differ—we get to see a bit more of Hugh Grant in the British ending. V. good DVD.