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Still Plump. Still Pleasing

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They're atáitáagain. Renee Zellweger has put the weight back on. Hugh Grant is as amusingly caddish as ever. Colin Firth is again a big, stuffed, curiously lovable goose. And Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason is, if not better than Bridget Jones's Diary, at least as good.

The film is made by the gang that hangs around Working Title, the English production company that has given us Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill and About a Boy, among other recent delights. It was written by a team of the company's regulars; is nicely directed by a newcomer to its ranks, Beeban Kidron; and is, like all Working's works, confidently paced. The filmmakers don't try for a knockout with every shot. Situations are allowed to proceed at a natural speed; characters are allowed time to develop their quirks. They give themselves — and the audience — some breathing room, time to take Bridget & Co. to heart.

There's a little moment in the film that's emblematic of the whole. We see Bridget in her bedroom, where she's just enjoyed fabulous sex with Firth's Mark Darcy. She's wriggling around under a gray comforter, looking from behind like a small elephant. He asks what in the world she is doing. Getting dressed, she says, but hiding the "wobbly bits." He firmly states his adoration of them, and her delighted grin seals a basic bargain with the audience. We all have our wobbly bits. And we all desperately hope our lovers and friends will accept them.

That's the secret of Jones' appeal. When she isn't putting her foot in her mouth, she's edging it toward a slippery slope — quite literally when she takes a skiing vacation with Darcy, and more figuratively when Grant's Daniel Cleaver puts his absurdly smooth and hilariously transparent moves on her. Later she finds herself in jail in Thailand, the innocent victim of a drug bust. The logic of this plotting may be — well, is — a little shaky, but who cares? Just as we are prepared to forgive Bridget the woman, so we forgive Bridget the movie its obvious flaws because of its equally inescapable charm.