As an avid lover of all things rom-coms, and on my quest to see just about every one ever made, one classic that sits towards the top of my rankings is Bridget Jones’s Diary.

Bridget Jones’s Diary is an iconic rom-com and the first installment in the cinematic trilogy, and I will say that I think this first one stands as the best of the three (followed by the third installment, Bridget Jones’s Baby, then in last place, the sequel: Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason).

Directed by Sharon Maguire, the story follows Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger) as she navigates her early thirties, evaluating her life after criticism from family and some questionable life choices. She decides to embark on a journey of change, documenting all in her new diary, hence the film’s name.

Bridget Jones’s Diary offers classic rom-com tropes brought to life by the iconic Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, and Hugh Grant, all under the guise of that lovable, early-2000s, British rom-com aesthetic. The film also has great pacing and gets the ball rolling with the plot right away, and follows up with strong character introductions, pulling the audience in immediately.

Bridget Jones’s Diary is an absolute comfort film and is still enjoyable after the millionth rewatch. The charm of the film largely stands the test of time, however on rewatch after rewatch, the way Bridget’s weight is discussed in the film becomes harder and harder to watch.

Bridget’s Weight

The continuous comments made about the protagonist’s weight throughout the story do, unfortunately, sully the timelessness of this beloved film quite a bit.

A clip from an old interview Zellweger had with Oprah Winfrey in 2004 resurfaced over this past summer, prompting fans to shower Zellweger with praise for how she handled the remarks made about her character’s weight.

In the interview, Zellweger comments on the matter, saying, ”It saddens me so much because it seems to imply that one way of being is acceptable and the other isn’t valuable, and that’s just not true.” Despite the self-degradation on Bridget’s part about her weight and other self-critical remarks, the rest of the film still holds up pretty well 22 years later.

Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) – source: Universal Pictures, Miramax Films

Unfortunately, the character of Bridget’s mother (Gemma Jones) also has a few questionably charged quips that certainly did not age well and sour the scenes in which they are featured in a bit. Thankfully, they are few and far between but still may make the audience have a “Wait, did she just say that?” moment.

Let’s Talk About These Performances

Zellweger’s English accent in the film is certainly something to note. It is done quite well and so convincing that I thought Zellweger was English until I put the pieces together of what other films I had seen her in.

Zellweger also offers an adorable and charming performance, bringing Bridget to life on screen with ease and honest relatability. I mean, who hasn’t had a good cry and belted out “All By Myself”? Bridget Jones: Relatable Queen.

Featured as the competing romantic leads alongside Zellweger are Colin Firth and Hugh Grant.

Firth offers a closed-off, yet lovable portrayal of Mark Darcy: a gentle and well-mannered barrister with a seemingly cold and blunt exterior, though he is quite the softie within.

Opposingly, Grant comes in as Bridget’s boss, Daniel Cleaver: a suave and cocky publishing executive. Grant’s attitude in the film paired with his classic brown floppy hair makes Bridget — and audiences everywhere — swoon.

Throughout the film, Bridget is also supported by a charmingly silly and absolutely witty group of friends played by Sally Phillips, Shirley Henderson, and James Callis. Though the trio doesn’t get too much screen time, anytime they are shown together, they are an absolute pleasure to watch.

Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) – source: Universal Pictures, Miramax Films

An underrated gem in this film must also be that of Bridget’s parents played by Gemma Jones and Jim Broadbent. Their portrayals showcase multiple familiar traits of the unintentional comedy that can come from being a parent and the two pepper in quirky one-liners that make their supporting roles pop on screen; lovingly kooky and charismatic as ever.

Fun Visuals and an Incredible Soundtrack

Another aspect of this movie that factors into its rewatch-ability is the absolutely stacked soundtrack. Upon every rewatch, I am continuously reminded of how chock-full this movie is of iconic songs. Featuring songs like “I’m Every Woman,” “Respect,” “Me and Mrs. Jones,” and “Fly Me To The Moon,” it is practically impossible not to get swept up in the charm of this movie.

The set decoration should also be made of note. The few holiday parties throughout the film as well as Bridget’s apartment (among the many other sets in the film) are designed with artful precision that emphasize the charming and endearing characters on screen in the most complementary way.

The costuming for this film is also a delightful addition to the visuals. From Mark Darcy’s adorable reindeer Christmas sweater to the classic early 2000s rom-com aesthetic everyone is wearing, to Bridget sporting a playful bunny costume later in the film — very much a Legally Blonde Elle Woods costume party moment.

As for the cinematography, the film does feature nice romantic lighting and coloring, a good use of overhead shots, and of course, some classic rom-com slow-mo shots.

Chock-Full of Iconic Moments

The final scene in the film is one of my favorite moments throughout the movie, and it definitely sits towards the top of the list of some of the most iconic moments in all romantic comedies.

Diana Ross’ rendition of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” used in that scene is the perfect punctuation mark to cap off the emotions of the scene and induce increased urgency into Bridget’s motivation. Ever since I saw this movie for the first time, I can’t hear this song without thinking of this scene.

Another favorite must also be when Bridget and Mark make blue soup. Not only is it a hilarious and relatable cooking slip-up on Bridget’s behalf, but the scene allows us to get to know Mark’s character a little more intimately, seeing his softer and gentler side for one of the first times in the film.

It also offers a quieter, precious moment between the two in a shorter scene in a rather chaotic (in the best way) and fast-paced film.

Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) – source: Universal Pictures, Miramax Films

The “I like you very much, just as you are scene” also stands out as an incredibly memorable and iconic moment shared between Bridget and Mark (at this point isn’t every moment in this movie classic and iconic?).

Mark declaring that he accepts Bridget how she is — despite her flaws, which she lists right in front of him — is truly romantic and makes the viewer fall absolutely in love with Mark Darcy right then and there.

The street fight scene between Mark and Daniel is also a top tier moment in this movie. A ridiculously unhinged fight between two grown men while “It’s Raining Men” plays? An unbelievably iconic choice made by Director Sharon Maguire; she absolutely knew what she was doing there and it works exceptionally well.

It was also later revealed that that fight scene wasn’t even choreographed, but rather just Firth and Grant having a go at it. Incredible. And the fight getting paused because the nearby Greek restaurant they’ve crashed into has to bring someone a birthday cake and everyone has to sing? Hilarious.

Lastly, the ending of the film is punctuated nicely with the way the credits were done. Interspersing the videos showing young Mark and Bridget while “Have You Met Miss Jones?” plays was a lovely choice and made a typically skippable part of a film (the credits) pleasant to stick around for.

Closing Thoughts

Bridget Jones’s Diary is truly one of my favorite romantic comedies of all time. It is a classic, yet refreshing, take on the rom-com, showing the imperfectly wonderful side of romance in your thirties.

Despite its handful of not-so-bright spots and few off-hand comments, it still holds up pretty well as a fun movie filled with charm more than twenty years later. As I’ve gotten older, I also always find a new detail that resonates a little more with where I’m at in my life and where Bridget’s at in hers.

This film is truly a classic and is always one of my first recommendations for people interested in watching rom-coms, so I highly encourage you to watch it if you’ve never seen it.

Bridget Jones’s Diary was released on April 13th, 2001, and as of writing, it is currently available to stream on Hulu. 

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