Bridget Jones: a comic triumph

by Christopher Tookey, Daily Mail

Memo to diary: Have just seen romantic comedy that is going to be whopping great hit this spring. Those who predicted Renee Zellweger wouldn't be able to do English accent about to eat words. 

Though Texan, Miss Zellweger just as believable as Gwyneth Paltrow in Sliding Doors, and even more adorable. 

Remember fancying her in Jerry Maguire; here she's less of a doormat and well worth cheering on as she stands up for self while committing career suicide or falling for highly unsuitable men. 

Even unfeeling non-feminists may share anguish as she repeatedly makes fool of herself in public and resorts in times of crisis to vodka bottle and gorging self on Branston pickle straight from jar. 

RZ not really very overweight (size 12 at most); all the same, extra poundage round legs and bottom very un-Hollywood and definite boost for women who enjoy their food and don't wish to look like stick insects. Also good news for men who prefer woman to look like woman. 

RZ takes curse off Bridget's self-absorption by being lovably tongue-tied, gauche and joyful when thinks (wrongly) she's met Mr Right. 

Film might - if it had followed book faithfully - have struck some women and lot of men as alienating wallow in female self-pity - instead, bright and touching. Fancy Miss Zellweger rotten. 

Memo to self: Try to find more respectable, critical, non-repetitive way of expressing this. 

Colin Firth brave to take on thankless part of stiff, snooty English lawyer who appreciates Bridget just as she is, and turns out to be decent cove once you get to know him. 

Firth excellent at little eye-flickers that give away hidden sensitivity beneath. Also makes change to see articulate Englishman in movies who is not complete swine or twit. 

Big revelation Hugh Grant - great fun as love-rat Daniel Cleaver, believably self-centred, interestingly dangerous and distinctly sexy. Important that his Mr Nasty be v. attractive, or Bridget might have come across as idiotic slag. 

GRANT gives a master class in light comedy acting, not for first time either. Am not altogether surprised that reference in book to Grant's escapade with hooker off Hollywood Boulevard hasn't made it into movie. 

Helen Fielding (original author) and Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice on telly) receive co- screenwriting credits, but Richard Curtis's input obviously immense and not only in profusion of f-words. 

Has transformed episodic fiction into neatly structured, emotionally satisfying romantic comedy - fractionally overlong and not as uproarious as Four Weddings and a Funeral, but well up to standard of his Notting Hill, in fact better because fresher and less formulaic. 

Special praise for casting director Michelle Guish. Gemma Jones and Jim Broadbent predictably excellent as Bridget's foolish but lovable parents. 

But lesser known British actors Sally Phillips, Shirley Henderson and James Callis all make an impact as Bridget's boozing partners. 

Pity not more British films like this, to help good young actors away from poverty line and Michael Winner movies. 

First-time director Sharon Maguire, friend of Fielding, not innovative but does creditable job. Wisely unflashy but competent, shows total sympathy for Bridget Jones psyche, lets terrific cast get on with it. 

Clever opening gets audience on Bridget's side before end of title sequence. Final joke over titles (at expense of Hugh Grant character) well worth sticking around for. 

Minor quibbles: Patrick Barlow undeveloped as shopping channel presenter who seduces Bridget's mum; Bridget's accent and vocab wobble a bit between upper-middle posh and lower-middle genteel, though some English girls are like that at moment. 

Quibbles outweighed by general likeability and funny set-pieces. Especially enjoyed very silly fight between leading men both equally useless at violence and breaking off in middle of restaurant tussle to join in singing 'Happy Birthday' to bewildered diner. 

BJ's Diary bound to appeal to those who like Cheers, Ally McBeal and Sex and the City; but everyone to be congratulated on keeping film specifically English (despite one reference to attorney when lawyer is meant). 

Nice to see London used as backdrop. Still a rarity. Lightness of touch welcome, since film deals with recognisably awful embarrassments, betrayals and female self-hatred, and vaguely based on Jane Austen classic Pride and Prejudice. 

Memo to self: Scatter more references to Felliniesque fantasy sequences, post-modernism, F.R. Leavis and English literary tradition to give impression of formidably high-powered intellect if time before setting off to see vitally important screening of Rugrats in Paris - The Movie. 

All in all, quite a triumph. Film as whole manages tricky feat of being true to spirit of novel but also delivers slick, entertaining romp to movie-goers throughout world who have never heard of book, still less actually read one. 

Obvious hit chick flick with colossal identification factor for unmarried female thirtysomethings. 

But even blokes will respond to RZ who is talented, cute and completely gorgeous, but mustn't go on about this or people will think have entirely lost marbles and turned into more than usually pathetic example of drunken, overweight, middle-aged film critic unrequitedly in love with nubile screen goddess. 

Hmm. Wonder if there's best-seller in this idea? Probably not, but definitely want Hugh Grant to play me in screen version.