Clear The Deck For <i>Bridget Jones</i>

Colin Firth, Renee Zellweger and Hugh Grant at premiere of Bridget Jones's Diary
This week, CBS News Sunday Morning's John Leonard talks like a man in love -- with Bridget Jones.
Salman Rushdie shows up early on in the delightful new movie, Bridget Jones's Diary, as if J.D. Salinger or Thomas Pynchon had shown up in Charlie's Angels. This is at a cocktail party at the London publishing house where Bridget works as a publicity assistant.

Tongue-tied in Rushdie's bearded presence, Bridget asks the Satanic Versifier which way to the loo. If you've read Helen Fielding's best-selling novel about Bridget, you already know that she's 32 years old, 20 pounds overweight, smokes too many cigarettes, drinks too much vodka, has no idea how to get anywhere and is always late anyway.

Even in her diary, she's an unreliable narrator of her own life. On the other hand, wherever Bridget is will be a better place because she's there.

The Leonard File
Read past reviews by John Leonard.
Renee Zellweger, eating chocolate and making lists, plays Bridget to perfection. If I didn't know and hadn't told you, you'd never guess she was born in Texas instead of London. Determined to find true love before she is eaten by wild dogs, she rushes into the grabby arms of Hugh Grant, her book-publishing boss, a handsome bounder and total cad. She resists the attentions of repressed barrister Colin Firth, a stuffed shirt and noble noodle.

A change of career, from books to television, is not much help, and neither are her flaky friends. But a star is born anyway, magnetic and sarcastic.

Romantic comedy depends on timing, and Bridget Jones's Diary tick-tocks like a music box. Jane Austen would have loved Bridget, and so do I. And who knows about Salman Rushdie?

She doesn't change; the rest of them have to, in the wobble of her gravity and the wonder of her grin.

I can't tell you how pleasant it was to meet her -- after so many movies and novels about crybaby 30-somethings who never grow up to be more interesting than their immune systems: who seem to have felt rotten ever since Pampers; who, because they are too lazy, stoned or solipsistic ever to have read a good book, mustered a fierce feeling or surprised a coherent idea, are incapable of love, art, politics, unselfishness, or even enthusiasm.

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