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Movie Review

Bridget Jones’s Diary

MPAA Rating: R for language and some strong sexuality

Reviewed by: Barbara Frega
CONTRIBUTOR

Extremely Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Romance Comedy
Length:
1 hr. 34 min.
Year of Release:
2001
USA Release:
April 13, 2001 (wide)
Colin Firth and Embeth Davidtz in Bridget Jones’s Diary
Relevant Issues
Renee Zellweger in “Bridget Jones’s Diary”
About love

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Jane Austen related films

Mansfield Park” (1999)

“Pride and Prejudice” (2000)

“Pride and Prejudice” (2005)

Bride and Prejudice” (2005)

Persuasion” (1995)

Becoming Jane” (2007)

Bridget Jones’s Diary” (2001)

Featuring: Renée Zellweger, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Jim Broadbent, James Callis
Director: Sharon Maguire
Producer: Tim Bevan, Jonathan Cavendish, Eric Fellner
Distributor: Miramax Films

“Bridget Jones’s Diary” is extolled as “zany” and a “character-driven romantic comedy,” and one would think the talents of Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, and Hugh Grant would promise a rather sweet romantic romp at very least, but in this instance we are presented with coarse and vulgar fare, and characters in a storyline where both are aimless and empty.

Meet Bridget Jones, a thirty-one-year-old publishing-house-marketing-clerk, whose poor self-image is irrevocably hinged to her lack of a romantic relationship. By her own admission, she weighs too much, drinks too much, and smokes too much, and in order to pursue finding a real bona-fide boyfriend, she takes up keeping a diary as a form of resolution against her vices. Did I say a resolution? Well, she’ll keep tabs upon them for the time being, we guess… for there is no apparent effort to restrain any behaviors—not in this film, not by Bridget, nor by anyone else for that matter.

Oddly enough, even while seeking a meaningful and mature relationship (not exactly her adjectives) with a man of character, Bridget seems to have no introspection nor comment to make upon her own untruthfulness, immodesty, promiscuity, general lewdness or her prevailing cynicism towards others. From frame one, we are beset with the truly doubtful notion that she could ever attract anyone at all. (This is not, however the filmmaker’s intention—she is meant to be witty, smart and tragic in a sweet way.) In actuality, she is crude, painfully juvenile, mindlessly rebellious, and profane. In fact, the humor to which the film aspires has very little to do with situation or character and everything to do with vulgarity, especially incessant use of the f-word. (In one instance there’s even a subtitle of the word.) We should expect more from the country that gave us Byron and Shakespeare.

A point should be made about the bad language in this or any film: Bad language or bad behavior per se, doesn’t mean a bad film for those of us seeking art or entertainment with some Godly, uplifting or profound message or values. If so, we would have to eliminate most of the Old Testament as “trashy” or “vile.” Bad language or behavior is sometimes simply indicative of the character’s need for redemption (remember “The Apostle,” “The Bad Lieutenant,” and “Magnolia”). But “Bridget Jones’s Diary” has not a sixteenth of the thematic endeavors of those films. No, it’s hard to assign to this film a loftier aim than its message of merely mindless pleasure-seeking. It is unclear if any character—including Bridget’s “chums”—has any values or principles, and it’s difficult to realize this group of self-absorbed thirty-somethings are at an age when they should be managing, or at least contributing to, the world.

The film’s final violation, then, is its utter pointlessness. it’s simply a vain look at the vain… a verification that those in their thirties have contemporaries who still in their teens. The vulgarity is clearly meant for those who revel in it. If you miss this film, do not fret—you have missed nothing. You might begin a diary of the really awful films you missed…

See our review of the 2004 sequel to this film: Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason

Viewer Comments
I was thoroughly disgusted with this movie, and regret not walking out. I kept hoping that it would improve; it only digressed. I don’t know how any Christian could see anything positive in this movie (other than in the end she chose the “best” guy), but the language, sexual reference and overall desperation of this girls were revolting. I lost respect for Renée Zellweger for even doing this movie, and did not find it the least bit entertaining. Don’t even bother corrupting your mind with renting the video.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 2]
—LS, age 39
I absolutely LOVED this movie. The entire cast played convincing and realistic characters, especially the character of Bridget herself. There was much use of the f-word, but it is important to remember that in parts of England, the word is not considered nearly as offensive. If you are not easily offended and can look over the language and the occasional sex talk, which wasn’t as terrible as many movies, you find yourself entertained beyond belief. I have been laughing for days after seeing it the second time and completely intend to see it again. Colin Firth is one of the best actors I’ve seen in a while, and watching him the second time convinced me only more that he is brilliant. It was also very entertaining to see a realistic fight in a movie for once. I would recommend this movie to anyone who is not easily offended and who enjoys a good laugh. And for any girl who doesn’t have a guy… you’ll fall in love with all the characters, especially Bridget Jones!
My Ratings: [Average / 4½]
—Liz, age 18
it’s rare I post a review on a site like this, but the number of very negative comments have spurred me on. I consider myself a quite conservative Catholic, but I do live in the real world. I have to say I enjoyed Bridget Jones’ Diary immensely. Yes, there was a lot of the f-word. Face it folks, it’s become part of the language. It may not be pleasant, but it’s long ceased to represent (in most people’s speech) what you might call the dictionary definition. it’s become a word of emphasis and has nothing to do with carnal knowledge. In fact, readers of the book will note that Bridget uses an entirely different expression for sex… Having read both books and actually CRIED laughing, I was apprehensive that the film wouldn’t live up to the humour in the written word. Thankfully, it did. As soon as I saw the blue string coming out of the drawer for her soup, I was in hysterics. So much I think I missed the joke that went with it. The sex scenes, such that they were, were very tastefully done, in my opinion. There was nothing graphic and hardly any nudity. Not to labour the point too much; I think this film is highly representative of the culture of 20/30 somethings in Britain. it’s not a lifestyle to be emulated certainly, but it’s reality and thank God it can laugh at itself.
My Ratings: [Average / 5]
—Tara Segrave, age 26
Bridget Jones’s Diary, the book, was more than a publishing sensation in Britain. Girlfriends ordered their boyfriends to read it from cover to cover. Newspapers serialised it. Bridget Jones became an icon that an overwhelmingly great number of British young people could relate to. The film is greatly more upbeat than the book, but the same references to real life that thrilled so many readers are there on the screen. The story highlights the isolation that so, so many young professionals suffer; it acknowledges how women are given insane missions to lose ridiculous amounts of weight; it celebrates individuality, humour and a sense of the absurd. The emptiness of promiscuity is demonstrated dazzlingly. What the modern world needs is decency, truthfulness, imagination and, let’s not be miserable, fun! I think that it’s great that BJD is now a successful feel-good movie with a heroine who is human. The film dares to show that affluence and happiness are not synonyms, and captures the zeitgeist of modern Britain with commendable accuracy. Such observation would be blunted if the profanity was excised. While I detest vulgar swearing, what were once called expletives are now part of the cadence and rhythm of contemporary British speech. The writer Bill Bryson notes that as much as 15% of adult conversation is made up of profane language. Shakespeare stood on the shoulders of Chaucer, a man whose Canterbury Tales are so electrifyingly rude that they make American Pie seem repressed.
My Ratings: [Average / 3½]
—David Van Peebles, age 24
“It is a truth universally acknowledged… that a movie based on a book, is never as good.” I went to see “Bridget Jones Diary” because I had heard that it was loosely based on Jane Austen’s classic—“Pride and Prejudice”. “Loosely Based” is exactly what the movie is, or some might consider it a modern day retelling. If you are an avid Austen fan, and have seen A&E’s “Pride and Prejudice” and/or the most recent “Mansfield Park” release, you will find a few familiar faces—most notably that of Colin Firth, who plays Mark Darcy in “Bridget”, a character based on Mr. Darcy of Pride and Prejudice, also played by Colin. I found “Bridget Jones Diary” entertaining on that level, that I could recognize characters from other Austen-based movies. I also must confess that I did find some of the situations in the movie to be funny. But, I was disappointed at the unnecessary foul language. It added nothing to the movie.

In some movies, language adds authenticity and seems to fit in (like movies about gangsters, or inner cities). However, the language in “Bridget” was excessive and out of place. It seemed to be more of a novelty than dialogue. “Bridget” also lacked smooth plot development, it just kind of jumped around. It is not entirely believable that after such infrequent encounters, that Bridget and Mark Darcy could end up so in love and passionate for each other. (Or perhaps this is a reflection on a society that doesn’t believe courtship is a necessary element of a lasting relationship.) I was also disappointed with the main character herself… Bridget. Now, I think Renee Z. is a great actress, and she did a good job in this movie, BUT… Her character, the heroine, is not much of a heroine. Yes, we can all relate to her. She second guesses herself, she finds herself in stupid embarrassing situations, she humiliates herself in public, and she agonizes over her weight. Who hasn’t? Simply put, Bridget is not the kind of person I would ever aspire to be.

I believe a truly great heroine should be just that—someone you look up to and admire, not simply the girl down the street. Having been “loosely based” on “Pride and Prejudice” I would have liked to see more of Elizabeth Bennet’s self confidence, sharp humor and wit, and intelligence in Bridget, rather than bad habits (excessive smoking and drinking) and self-pity. Although somewhat entertaining, it’s not really worth the price of admission. Wait for Video.
My Ratings: [Extremely Offensive / 2]
—Susan Parker, age 29
I was offended by all of the F-words used in this film. It showed a lack of creativity on the writers part. The words used were of no relevance to the films message. The only thing that the film did for me was waste my time…
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 1½]
—SLB, age 42
I have not read the book that this movie was based on, but from what I saw, it was probably better—most books usually are. Being thirty-something and single, I could relate to Ms. Jones’ problematic love life. I didn’t have a problem with the language; it was the story itself that could have been a little more solid that what it was. It certainly wasn’t romantic enough.
My Ratings: [Average / 2½]
—Hillari Hunter, age 39
Yes, this film does contain a lot of F-words and yes it is crude, however I think it depicts what is going on in the world today, and in particular in the world of “20/30 something” single women. I wouldn’t recommend it to those who would be influenced by it and certainly not to under 15s at all. mind you nor under 18s really either, but it is realistic of our culture today.
My Ratings: [Average / 3]
—Louise, age 27
I went to see this movie with a friend of mine. I had seen previews for it and thought it looked really funny. I hoped it would be as good as the previews. I wasn’t disappointed. This is a very enjoyable and funny movie. As I was watching I felt sorry for Bridget, but I could also imagine myself getting into similar situations. So that made it very easy for me to identify with and relate to Bridget. The only complaint I have about this movie is the profanity. I thought the language was uncalled for. But by Hollywood standards, the profanity in this movie is pretty mild. I’ve seen R rated movies where profanity occurs every other word. But don’t get me wrong, I was definitely offended by the language in this movie. Again, I feel that the sex scenes in this movie were uncalled for and unnecessary. But I also thought they were very tastefully done. The brief nudity was very brief and easy to miss. Also, there were no really graphic sex scenes, most of it is implied and not shown at all. it’s sad that Hollywood seems to think a movie can’t be funny and enjoyable unless it has profanity and sex scenes. I think this is pretty much a movie just for adults. It might be okay for older teens, but only if they go with their parents or another adult. it’s sad that Hollywood had to mar such a funny movie with so much profanity.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 4]
—Lisa Sutter, age 24
don’t get me wrong, I did rate this movie as very offensive, but I loved this movie. One of the best I have seen in a long time. The sexual conduct was very above board, but none of it was gross-out sex. The profanity as well. None of it was needed, but the movie was a very light-hearted movie, and none of it was extremely offensive. While not needed, it was done in a fun manner. I think this is one of the best movies I have ever seen. I would recommend it for very old/mature teens with parents or young adults. The story is incredibly touching and heartwarming, and you walk out of the theatres smiling. It has a great ending, and it’s extremely cute. I would recommend this movie, but you need to know before you go that it does have the f-word a LOT of times. A whole lot which was unnecessary. The sex is mostly implied, none of it is graphic. You see them together under the sheets but that is all you see. As for the nudity. That is showed briefly just to show the girl’s horror when she sees him with another woman. I think this movie has a lot to talk about with family, but I definitely would not recommend it for anyone under 15 or 16.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 5]
—Vanesa, age 17
I found this movie to be extremely offensive from the beginning. Everything was offensive—the constant drinking, the smoking, the foul language, the sexual remarks, the total disregard for any morals. We did stay for a full thirty minutes because we felt that it might change since it was about Bridget deciding to take control of her life and make changes. The only change we saw was from bad to worse. We walked out of the movie feeling as if we needed to take a shower! I would not recommend this movie to anyone. I think Hugh Grant really stepped down a few levels to make this movie.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 1½]
—S Harris, age 46
Once again, we have a movie that could have been a funny wholesome movie, but the movie industry felt the need to ruin a great story line with vulgar language and sexual promiscuity. Zellweger is a great actress and as far as I’m concerned, if they would have toned down the language and sexual content, this movie could have been an enjoyable success. I would not recommend this movie to anyone because of the strong language and lewd sexual content. I watched this movie with my mother and must admit there were times during this movie that I was downright embarrassed. I just don’t know anyone who would have missed the crudeness if it had not been there. This could have been a funny PG movie if it had been cleaned up.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 1½]
—Julie Eidson, age 39
This movie would have been a very funny and enjoyable movie had it not been for the foul language and the constant sexual references. Rene Zellwegger was hilarious as Bridget and both Colin Firth and Hugh Grant did good jobs. The story was cute but it was really hard to get past the rest. I seriously would not recommend this movie to anyone I know because of the constant crude and foul language. Had I not been with 2 girlfriends to watch this, I would have walked out.
My Ratings: [Very Offensive / 3]
—Sue H, age 36
Movie Critics
…About 30 F-words… several anatomical references, a few scatological references, several mild obscenities, some religious profanities…
—Kids-in-Mind
…brief male nudity, nude woman covers herself and woman in underwear…
—Dr. Ted Baehr, Movieguide
…An above average romantic comedy with an atypical heroine at its center…
—Michael Elliott, Movie Parables
…[Bridget] is the original ditz and Zellweger, despite the controversy which surrounded the casting of an American as quintessentially British Bridget, more than does her justice…
—This Is London, The Evening Standard Online