Fri, Dec 03, 2004 - Page 16 News List

Bulking up for Bridget

Bridget Jones shows some extra kilograms in what seems like the director enjoying the sight of her star on an ugly day

By Manohla Dargis  /  NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE

Renee Zellweger reprises her role as Bridget Jones. It couldn't have been easy but she was well paid for it.


Weight: unknown (i.e., none of your business); alcohol units: 2 (red wine); cigarettes: 0 (Hello, I live in Los Angeles); calories: who counts calories? It's all about carbs and they're none of your business, either.

Actresses watched today: I finally saw Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and, man, does this one make the first movie look like a masterpiece. What was Renee Zellweger thinking? It can't have been fun to put on all that weight, especially for a film as ghastly as this, and it sure won't be fun taking it off again.

I haven't always been a fan of the actress, but I have begun to thaw. Or maybe this movie just made me feel sorry for her. I liked her a lot in White Oleander, a ludicrous movie where Michelle Pfeiffer shouted out to the homegirls in prison while flipping her blond tips. There was something so needy and true about Zellweger's character that I wanted to throw a big afghan around her and hustle her to a 12-step meeting for women who feel too much.

Characters loathed today: What is the appeal of Bridget Jones? More to the point, what is the appeal of laughing at her swishing thighs, her lack of both charm and obvious intelligence?

At the screening a lot of women were cackling lustily every time the camera zoomed in on Bridget's bulbous posterior, which of course looks much like the posterior of most women who don't live for Pilates and in Beverly Hills. The film's director, Beeban Kidron, took obvious delight in this unhappy view, too. She either really disliked her star or thinks humiliating other women is great sport.

Whatever the case, you have to wonder why all these women (you go, sister!) relish the spectacle of a normally well-coiffed, highly paid Academy Award-winning actress, who dates rock stars no less, looking so bad.

Film Notes

Directed by: Beeban Kidron

Starring:Renee Zellweger (Bridget), Hugh Grant (Daniel), Colin Firth (Mark), Jim Broadbent (Dad), Gemma Jones (Mum) and Jacinda Barrett (Rebecca)

Running time: 108 minutes

Taiwan Release: Today

In tabloids and on Web sites and television you can see photographs of people, and not just the famous, looking their very worst -- they're too thin, too fat, too wrinkled, too gray, too puckered and, really, just too human. Reality shows speak to our narcissism.

With celebrities, though, it's not just the routine matter of watching our idols fall and dancing on the broken pieces; it's as if we want to actually consume the pieces, absorb these once-perfect bodies into our own in some demented pantomime of communion. By blowing up like a balloon in the Bridget movies, Zellweger successfully bypasses the humiliation of the "gotcha" moment visited on actresses who are caught, via some paparazzi telephoto lens, shoveling Oreos in their mouths. Is this smart or stupid?

Unlike Sharon Maguire, who directed Bridget Jones's Diary, Kidron goes out of her way to make the character unattractive, sticking the camera under Bridget's chin and doing nothing nice with the lighting. Bridget is pleasantly plump in the first movie, as plush and appealing as an Eiderdown comforter, but here she's a greasy, bumbling, waddling train wreck.

Doesn't the poor thing read fashion magazines or go shopping in London's boutiques and groovy outdoor markets? Doesn't she wash her hair? There's an ugly and telling scene early in the movie when Bridget, who's a television host on some idiotic British show, parachutes out of a plane while on camera and lands smack in the middle of a pigsty. The metaphor is slammed in your face like a two-by-four.

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