By Becky Roozen Published Nov 12, 2004 at 5:03 AM

{image1} When poor, poor Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger) hit rock bottom in 2001, she eased the pain of a dwindling career, lost love and shrinking trousers with too many cigarettes, booze and comfort food. She found none of the above to soothe her soul and dove heart first into her diary, her solace and hope for the future.

Now she's back in the laugh-out-loud "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason" right where she left off, feeling better than ever ... well, kind of. She's conquered love by capturing the adoration and nightly "shag" of the oh-so-perfect Mark Darcy (Colin Firth). And with Darcy by her side, her extra large bum and undignified career in journalism don't seem as bad as before.

Although, Jones is as chipper as a morning songbird -- which we hear practically every time Darcy crosses her mind -- her terrible luck and laughable antics still run strong and are certainly worth seeing.

It's always an escapade for her to wriggle and squirm in and out of her dresses -- props to Zellweger for packing on the 30 pounds, again -- and it's even more of an episode watching her attempt to walk like she has any class at all, slumping around like an overstuffed sausage.

But Jones has more on her mind than getting skinny -- she admits to Darcy that she'll "always be a little bit fat" -- one of his partners at the law firm, Rebecca (Jacinda Barrett), has legs up to her neck and a thing for her man. And to top it all off Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) -- Jones' first love from the first flick -- reappears as a womanizing reporter at her workplace and insists on manipulating Jones back into bed.

How Jones handles the aforementioned has the audience hooting and hollering right on cue. Her attempt to overthrow Rebecca's latest reign -- if she can't do it with her looks, why not try wit and charm, right? -- only has you wishing she'd shut up and stop making a frightening fool of herself.

This type of scene is a constant right up until the end. Whether it's her little white lie about how she can downhill ski or her jealousy-laced encounters with Rebecca, her intuitions and needy accusations leave Jones back where she started -- minus Darcy, plus sweets, cigarettes and her diary.

From here Jones finds herself soul-searching, which takes her to Thailand on business -- with the smooth operator himself, Cleaver. Does this blast from the past captivate her heart again? Can Cleaver prove he's in it for the right reason and not just a "shagathon" one-night stand? And when Jones finds herself out of luck more than ever before, who will save the day?

The stellar performances of Zellweger, Firth and Grant carry this already-hilarious but obviously-outrageous plot line to its fullest. Their comical roles and A-list acting keep the story rolling even when the turn of events gets a little out of hand. And there is only a brief moment or two when the story drags. But at least the breath-taking sunsets and scenery keep you preoccupied for this short-lived slump.

"Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason" opens Friday, Nov. 12.