Meet Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger), London “singleton”, a slightly overweight thirty-something woman who starts making various resolutions after a disastrous New Year’s Eve which ends with her alone in her pad, downing a bottle of wine while singing to “All By Myself”. Bridget wants to stop drinking, stop smoking, eat less, exercise more… The usual, except that she also decides to start writing a diary to keep track of her eventual progress. Of course, all of that is easier to say than to do, and she ends up repeatedly making a fool of herself, saying the wrong things, making faux pas… And then there’s her miserable love life, which currently revolves around her womanizing boss Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant), of all people, with whom she entertains heavy flirting which soon translates into heavier… You know! Meanwhile, she keeps running into a certain Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), whom she finds attractive but can’t get along with…

Sorry about that, I know this is a lousy summary, but for what little plot there is in this movie, I hardly cared. I mean, what was that all about? We’ve heard so much about the Bridget “phenomenon”, that supposedly wonderful British novel that’s been rejoicing women on both sides of the Atlantic, and which is now a movie from the producing team who brought you “Four Weddings and a Funeral” and “Notting Hill”. Granted, I haven’t read the book, plus I’m neither female or British but still, am I supposed to be this bored and appalled by it all? I’ve gotten used to sappy romantic comedies about women who go for the wrong guys while overlooking the right one, the kind of sweet little movies Hollywood releases regularly. Heck, I enjoy some of them, too. Now, they say “Bridget Jones” isn’t quite your usual Americanized romance. Well, as a matter of fact, it isn’t…. it’s worse! The movie is painfully English: it has no rhythm, no sass, no energy, but it’s got plenty of stiffness uneasily mixed with much bumbling and silliness. Oh, and constant foul language, over-drinking and chain smoking, how romantic indeed!

Like all similar movies, this one is corny and manipulative, manufacturing cute moments and obligatory misunderstandings before we can get to the happy end, but that doesn’t have to be a problem. For instance, I loved Nora Ephron’s “You’ve Got Mail” because even though the general outline is familiar, the little moments were delightful. Here, we have quite the opposite. Nearly every single scene is dumb or just plain odd, and the movie grows dull and duller. Mmm, sexual harassment in the workplace through instant e-mail, and Bridget likes it. Ah, a Salman Rushdie cameo. Is he really coming out of hiding for this crap? Bridget’s mum leaves her daddy for a shopping network host with an orange tan — ooh, infomercials, what an original target for satire. Bridget has sex but doesn’t take off her bra. She goes to a garden party dressed as a whore with bunny ears and tails (don’t ask). She leaves the publishing house where we’re not sure what she did for a job in television. Firemen abound, and a shot of her big booty. Nice… Bridget has some friends over for her birthday, and she can’t cook, heh heh… (why is she cooking for her own party anyway?) What now, an over the top fight between the jerk and the stiff? Will this end already?

I’m telling you, “Bridget Jones’ Diary” is a horrible, wretched movie. I was dying to get out of that theatre, and I might have had it not been for the film’s one salvaging quality, the performances. Ironically enough, after fans of the novel went berserk upon learning that slim Texan Renee Zellweger would portray their beloved Bridget, Zellweger ends up being the only enjoyable thing in this mess. She’s fun and lovable as always, and she’s got a good handle on that Brit accent, it’s not hard to get used to it. She gained some twenty pounds for the role, yet it hardly makes her fat, she’s just more womanly (most of the weight seems to have gone to her boobs!). Hugh Grant is charming enough himself even though he plays a scoundrel, and Colin Firth is not too bad himself, even though he’s given little to work with — it’s never established why he loves Bridget and why she loves him, so why should we root for them to end up together? Hence, even though the leads are good, it’s far from enough to make the film worth seeing, unless you wish to waste money and lose two hours of your life.