There are few cinematic events in recent years that've caused much of a fuss. Pictures are greenlighted and although there hits, there's also a lot of pictures that really don't connect. Yet, with nearly all major literary-to-screen efforts, there is often a fuss about casting and other story elements. Such was the case with "Bridget Jones's Diary", which caused an uproar when young Texan beauty Renee Zellweger ("Jerry Maguire") was chosen to play the title character with a British accent and a few more pounds.
The star and filmmakers were able to prove themselves well, though. "Bridget Jones's Diary" is easily one of the most appealing romantic comedies that I've seen in quite some time. Again, Zellweger stars as Bridget Jones, a 30-something young lady who works at a publishing house and drinks too much, smokes too much and hasn't found the right man to spend her days with.
She's fallen for her boss, Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) and the two eventually start up an office romance. Also coming into her life is childhood friend Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), who also begins to fall for young Bridget. The audience obviously know where the film is heading, but there are some great elements that keep our interest, even when the film sticks to a somewhat conventional romantic plot.
Zellweger is nothing short of brilliant in the lead role. Sweet, lovable, engaging and showing a flair for comedy, she's perfect. Some have said that she shouldn't have gained the 15-20 pounds that was needed for the role, I actually think that she looks better with a more natural and curvy look. Hugh Grant is also clever and charming in a very funny performance as Cleaver. The only one that I never really cared for was Firth, whose performance seemed a bit too somber to be interesting.
If anything, at only 98 minutes or so, "Bridget Jones's Diary" walks the line between being pleasantly quick and not wearing out it's welcome and not providing quite enough story and character details. Still, "Bridget Jones" first-time director Sharon Maguire has done a fine job bringing enough energy to the proceedings to skip over the film's slight concerns. Smart, charming and clever, "Bridget Jones's Diary" really works succeeds with a fantastic performance from Zellweger - easily her best since "Jerry Maguire".
VIDEO: "Bridget Jones's Diary" is presented by Miramax in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. As with the movie itself, the transfer is a pleasant, enjoyable and often terrific effort from the studio. Although there were a few minor and rare blemishes, I didn't see anything that would cause definite concern. Sharpness and detail were actually quite strong, especially during some of the brighter outdoor sequences, which showed a fine amount of depth to the image.
The only problem that I noticed, unfortunately, was the existence of some minor edge enhancement in a couple of scenes. These were not what I would call very distracting, though. I didn't see any instances of pixelation and the print used was very clean - I only spotted a speckle or two. Colors were lovely and well-saturated, appearing bright and nicely rendered, with no smearing. Black level was strong and flesh tones looked accurate and natural. "Bridget Jones's Diary" looked gorgeous; a really nice work from the studio.
SOUND: Although the image quality was generally very enjoyable, "Bridget Jones's Diary" doesn't present much of an audio experience, which is generally to be expected from the material. A dialogue-heavy picture, the only element that really lifts it out of the usual "comedy" audio presentation is the music, which is nicely presented by the front speakers and occasionally re-inforced lightly by the surrounds. Other than that, there's little in the way of ambient sounds and the film often folds up into simply dialogue. Still, audio quality is generally quite good as the music comes through cleanly and warmly and dialogue sounded natural and clear.
MENUS:: Very enjoyable animated main menu, with score in the background. Takes a little longer than I'd like for the selections to come up, but otherwise very nice.
Commentary: This is a commentary from director Sharon Maguire. Maguire provides a fun and enjoyable track as she chats about what it was like to cast Zellweger in the lead role, as well as what it was like as a first-time director working on a project with such high expectations behind it. Some pauses of silence throughout the track, but overall, Maguire is light and provides some enjoyable tidbits about the production.
Deleted Scenes: 7 deleted scenes are offered in 5.1 audio and 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. These sequences are likely cut out for pacing reasons, but there is no optional commentary to discuss their actual reason for being deleted from the film. Still, there are a few funny moments here and the scenes do present worthwhile viewing for "Bridget Jones" fans.
Featurette: Opening with a too-funny list of things the featurette will or will not do ("will not be overly self-promotional"), this is a slightly less than 10 minute look at the making of the movie, with interviews from the author, director and cast, as well as some behind-the-scenes features. It is rather promotional, but it's a light and funny look at the making of the picture and it's nice to see that this was apparently produced directly for the DVD.
Also: Original "Bridget Jones" columns; music videos for Shelby Lynne's "Killin' Kind" and Gabrielle's "Out of Reach". No trailer - odd, that.
Final Thoughts: Although not without some very minor concerns, "Bridget Jones's Diary" is energetic, warm and charming enough to highly entertain, with an especially winning performance from Renee Zellweger. Miramax's DVD provides fine audio/video quality and some enjoyable extra features. A great date-night rental that will likely be enjoyed just as much by males as females.