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.