Directed by Sharon Maguire, starring Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant
From the off I have not read Helen Fielding's book (despite a three-year long botched attempt to get someone, anyone to lend me a copy) so my expectations for this film stretched as far as seeing whether Renee Zellweger rounded and sounded the part. The highest compliment I can pay is that having seen the film I'd be glad to buy the book.
Debutante directors must go through all sorts of horrors from day one but taking on an adored object as your first project moves things from risky to thankless; judging by the reaction at the screening – Sharon Maguire has got it very right. It's incredibly light, with a filo pastry storyline which doesn't so much glide as jump from one scatterbrain set piece to another, but it's the perfect date/friends movie. And no matter how fed up you are with Hugh Grant playing Hugh Grant (in this case the cad Daniel Cleaver) and Colin Firth (the worthy but dull Mark Darcy) playing broody men, you will laugh – lots.
While many developed rictus eyebrows at the thoughts of Zellweger playing Jones, she is consonant (and catastrophe)-perfect for the part. As anyone who saw her in the Farrelly Brothers' 'Me, Myself & Irene' will attest she doesn't take herself too seriously and whether it's sliding up a fire station pole, making blue soup or destroying a job interview with her contention that El Nino is a Latin music fad, she does it all in heartwarming, knockabout style.
As an outsider to the cult of Jones it struck me that her character is essentially Hugh Grant's bumbling fop from 'Four Weddings...' and 'Notting Hill' after a visit to the gender identity clinic – dorky but deserving. At 90 minutes it was well within Maguire's remit to add another half-an-hour and pad out the relationship between Zellweger and Firth but that's a minor quibble when you consider how horrendous this film could have turned out.
A bad love life, and even worse underwear, has never looked so good.