Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000 to 2009.
Casting Colin Firth as another locked-in, prissy bloke named Darcy solidified all parallels between Bridget Jones’s Diary and Pride & Prejudice. But this romantic comedy featuring a woman learning to love her flaws as much as someone else’s operated at a higher level of sense and sensibility.
Converting chick-lit phenomena like Bridget Jones’s Diary into films often fails. Look no further than 2004’s Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, an ill-advised continuation of Bridget’s adventures that led her to, of all places, a Thai prison.
However, director Sharon Maguire applied the right light touch in this 2001 introduction to Bridget with memorable sequences and secondary plotlines — Bridget’s disastrous costume at a tarts-and-vicars party, a hilarious kick-slap ninny fight between Firth and Hugh Grant (never more wolfish) and a touching subplot about Bridget’s parents splitting.
Bridget is a lonely heart with a New Year’s resolution to turn proactive about her love life. Her potential suitors are Daniel (Grant), her lothario boss, and Mark (Firth), a priggish, but well-meaning, barrister.
Casting the American Renee Zellweger as this British icon drew plenty of flak. But the Oscar-nominated Zellweger proved impossible to not root for while flashing a sweet smile, bunching her body up in a “right-o, old chap” shoulder shrug and waddle-walking in severely unflattering panties and girdles.
Bridget’s romantic gestures weren’t grand, but gradual. Watching her choose not to romantically “save” the wrong person but complement the right one offered an emotionally empowering respite from the usual romantic-comedy sap.