DVD Review: 'Bridget Jones's Diary' delights viewers on charm, lacks extras on DVD

With some DVD productions, viewers cannot help but be reminded of the reasons that DVDs have revolutionized the home entertainment market. Movies that splash onto the scene with pomp, circumstance and a glut of accompanying material — the “”Star Wars”” and “”Godfathers”” of our time — begged for the extra capacity of DVDs before the format was even available.

However, most films neither require nor merit such excess, and in these cases, it seems that the studios scramble to fulfill obligation — to level off DVD releases with megabytes of superfluous material and uninspired presentation. Unfortunately, the DVD version of “”Bridget Jones’s Diary”” is such a release.

The DVD package does not have anything great going for it except the film: a charming comedy based on the eponymous British bestseller of 1998. It traces the exploits of its socially inept heroine, played by Renee Zellweger with a passable British accent, on her quest to disengage herself from the patterns of alcoholic indulgence and codependence in which she has heretofore engaged. She embarks on a quest to clean up her health and her love life, all with the goals of bliss and commitment in mind.

The film’s central focus is Bridget’s uncertainty regarding two suitors in her life — both ostensibly churls for their own reasons — played by Hugh Grant and Colin Firth. As Bridget ambulates between them, she struggles to gain self-confidence and an understanding of which of the two might be right for her.

Interestingly, what was touted by all as a book and film expressive of the late 1990s’ “”independent woman”” shows Bridget to be anything but. Bridget’s portrait of what a strong woman should be only betrays her assumption — shared unwittingly by most “”assertive”” women — that happiness necessarily entails partnership with an ambitious man. Therein lies the paradox of the modern adult female, and Bridget, as its spokeswoman, unconsciously lives it out like the lines of a play.

The film completely sidesteps its own paradoxical portrayal of independent womanhood, but there is no way that it can address it anyway if it hopes to remain a lighthearted romantic comedy.

Thus the film succeeds in its aims: We laugh at Bridget’s ineptitude, hold our breath painfully when we see her being hurt when she dares to trust, and when at last she finds satisfaction with one of her targets, we smile and ignore the unanswered questions.

The reason the film does not make for a stellar DVD package is because there are precious few extra features that such a film can support. The standard pieces are there: audio commentary by director Sharon Maguire, a few deleted scenes and music videos of songs from the film’s soundtrack.

For those interested in how the Bridget Jones phenomenon took off, Miramax has included clips of author Helen Fielding’s newspaper columns from London’s Independent — the articles from which the book “”Bridget Jones’s Diary”” was later culled.

The presentation and digital art for the menu screens is rather banal, and indeed it seems that Miramax was more interested in filling the DVD to capacity with music videos than with substance.

“”Bridget Jones’s Diary”” makes for great Saturday evening escapism. However, it does not make a stirring addition to any DVD junkie’s collection, being rather devoid of salient content. Rent this one for a slumber party, but shell out your money for something such as “”Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.””

Bridget Jones’s Diary

***

Starring Renee Zellweger, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth

DVD available now

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