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The Daily Tar Heel

`Bridget Jones' Overcomes `Chick Flick' Cliches

Bridget Jones' Diary
3 1/2 Stars

Romantic comedies are Hollywood's most evil trick. They lure you in with a feature on "Oprah," a few glossy commercials and a pairing of flawlessly beautiful actors.

But the genre has historically been plagued by worn-out plot lines, rote characters and Julia Roberts. "Bridget Jones' Diary" looks to shake up the perceived notion of the romantic comedy with its uncharacteristically palatable blend of quirky characters, raunchy dialogue and humor.

The film, based on the hit novel by Helen Fielding, follows 32-year-old Bridget Jones in her struggles to end her life of singledom. Along the way, Jones deals with her overbearing mother, her crass coworkers and, most significantly, her own unique shortcomings.

But what is most important about "Bridget Jones' Diary" is not its story but its fresh take on the female protagonist. Renee Zellweger's portrayal of Bridget reveals a character who is refreshingly imperfect. She's unhappy with the way she looks, she has a disparate group of friends who are as lost as she is and she bumbles her way through life one mistake at a time. In other words, she's drawn from the same world as us.

Zellweger is utterly convincing as the in-over-her-head Bridget. To play the role, the Texas-born actress picked up a British accent and packed on a few pounds. She lights up the screen with a delightfully goofy presence, and her comic timing is dead-on.

Also worth note is Hugh Grant's performance as Daniel Cleaver, Bridget's sleazy boss. His playful raunchiness is what saves "Bridget Jones' Diary" from being branded as a "chick flick." And it's a testament to Grant's irrepressible charm that even as he is spewing foul-mouthed dialogue and playing an absolute scoundrel opposite Zellweger, he remains likeable enough to make her fascination with him seem reasonable.

Between the characters' exploits, the film finds an easy balance of humor and heart. Aside from the love story, there are a handful of perfectly executed comic scenes that are laugh-out-loud funny.

Sharon Maguire's skillful direction plays with the unexpected and keeps you on your toes for the duration of the two hours. Between Bridget's fantasies and what's really going on, you're never sure what to expect or believe.

But "Bridget Jones' Diary" is a feel-good movie and can't avoid a happy ending. Sure, you can see it coming a mile away, but you still leave the theater fulfilled and content with the resolution.

With its vibrant cast and (to quote Bridget herself) "verbal diarrhea," "Bridget Jones' Diary" is an entertaining twist on the formulaic romantic comedy.

Because, like the characters in the movie, we end up loving Bridget exactly the way she is, imperfections and all.

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at

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