To all the single ladies; you may not be shouting it from the rooftops, but at one point or another you’ve embraced Bridget Jones as your spirit animal. She says what she wants (in a has-no-control-over-her-mouth kind of way), spends Saturday nights in her pajamas with a bottle of wine/something stronger, and for some reason she’s reached her 30’s and is still hopelessly boyfriendless. She may not be rich, she may not be a size 0, she may eat Nutella from the jar, but she is the elected president of the Over 30’s Single’s Club and her reign will inspire generations of alcoholic cat-lovers to come.
At one point in time we’ve all been there: it’s New Year’s Eve, the second most romantic holiday of the year, and the empty furniture is our only witness to a totally on point, lip sync rendition of Céline Dion’s “All By Myself”. Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger) is 32 and begins her New Year with a bottle of wine, a diary, and a determination to figure out why she repels relationships like a Halloween decoration at a funeral. Not only that, but she decides to make a change for the better and devote all her time to finding a boyfriend. Her first step is to buy a miniskirt. Her second step is to flirt with the boss. Her third step is to try and avoid the attractive but haughty Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) who shows up to ruin the moment absolutely everywhere she goes – a rather odd coincidence considering Bridget hasn’t seen him since she was four and dancing naked in his paddling pool. While Bridget’s ultimate goal is to not die alone and become a sad meal for wild dogs, the pressure from her parents and smug band of married friends is enough motivation to make self-help books a good buy – and maybe try showering once in a while.
Bridget Jones’s Diary is essentially a modern Pride and Prejudice. Everything from the plot to the characters plays homage to this classic (if the gentlemanly “Mark Darcy” wasn’t clue enough). However, I’m sure Jane Austen would have a few words to say about Bridget’s choice of fishnets and bunny ears – costume party or not. While Elizabeth Bennet was a strong, intelligent woman among the socialites of her generation, Bridget is a bit of an idiot. But she only appears as such because of the unfortunate circumstances in which she frequently ends up. She becomes socially recognised as the girl who tries so hard to dig herself out of a hole that she may as well dig a grave instead. We love her because we can all relate. Such mortification is only made worse by what we think they think that we must be thinking. No one can be this colossal of a public failure – yet we laugh heartily because at least it’s her and not us. All these cock-ups, however, make the few moments when Bridget actually does get it right more triumphant than a turtle rolling back onto its feet – accompanied, of course, to the tune of “Ain’t No Mountain High”.
If only the mere decision to take action on the state of one’s love life was enough to instantly present the two men Bridget finds falling over her. Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) is a raunchy womanizer with great hair who falls hopelessly in love with Bridget’s miniskirt. He’s charming and manipulative and one lucky catch for the desperately single Miss Jones. On the other hand we have Mark Darcy, the poised, proper, insulting son of a friend of Bridget’s mother. Daniel and Mark have a history together, although what that history is doesn’t seem to fit their current public personas. The tension between these two characters grows, with Bridget stuck in the middle, until we finally get to the most realistic movie fight of all time. Slaps are thrown, tentative kicks are kind of flailed about, and as many cheap shots as can be taken are taken. Neither of these business men have ever been a member of Fight Club, but they do whatever they can to impress the mildly shocked and secretly flattered Bridget Jones.
Bridget Jones’s Diary is hilarious because it’s an honest reflection of life. There is a sullen fear among single 30-somethings that the only way they’ll end up married is if they settle for the middle-aged, jumper-wearing divorcée presented to them by mother. Should they read books called “What Men Want” or take the other route and go for “Please Yourself and the Rest Will Follow”? Bridget lends hope to awkward single ladies everywhere who aren’t quite confident enough to put their hands up at Bioncé’s request. As an undeniably hilarious romantic comedy, Bridget Jones’s Diary deserves an 8.5/0.