She's back. Renee Zellweger has piled on the pounds, slapped make-up on her face with a trowel and assumed her best British accent to reprise the role that made the original film a worldwide success in 2002. And yes, they are back as well. Colin Firth returns as the suave and slightly uptight lawyer Mark Darcy while Hugh Grant reassumes the mantle of England's smarmiest writer, now efficiently scaled up into a tv travel reporter with a roving eye. The trouble with The Edge of Reason, based on Helen Fielding's second Jones novel, is that it's almost impossible to tell it apart from the first film.
So we have a film which essentially takes all of the memorable moments from the original and repackages them with remarkable similarities. Bridget makes a fool of herself on live television. Bridget phones Mark to leave a naughty message only to be put on speakerphone in his crowded office. Mark still wears fluffy jumpers provided by his mother. And of course, Mark and Daniel have another attempt at an inept fight.
The sequel picks up six weeks (and 71 ecstatic shags) after the first film, with human rights lawyer Darcy now sleeping over regularly at Bridget's. Of course, trouble can never be far from the surface, and as Bridget begins to question how her life has suddenly become so perfect, the cracks begin to appear. A beautiful female lawyer threatens to take her man away, Daniel returns to the scene as a journalist (and needless to say she is still slightly smitten by him), and her friends urge her to dump Mark unless he behaves as the perfect gentleman.
It's a comedy of misunderstanding where all of the jokes are now somewhat jaded and inevitably make you ask if you have seen the same gag before. The real problem with the film is Bridget herself: whereas her situation and character in the first film do provoke some sympathy, we now have a completely different reaction. She stares at Mark continually while he sleeps, and after eight weeks is already contemplating marriage and children. No wonder he begins to get itchy feet, as his perfect girl turns out to have bunny boiler tendencies.
A few extended gags try to alleviate the situation, but the skiing hi-jinks as well as an excruciatingly bad scene in a Thai women's prison only serve to make the whole thing even more preposterous than it actually is. Performances are generally one-dimensional, but it's hard to criticise the actors given the lack of something decent in the script department. Unless Fielding decides to resurrect her most popular character, this is one series that should be put swiftly to death.