THE first Bridget Jones film was a delicious surprise.

Not only did it take a slight and highly-overrated book and turn it into a wonderfully charming movie, but it also showcased a perfect performance from American Renee Zellweger as the hapless British heroine.

Thus it was a great success, meaning that we are inevitably back here again in Sequelville.

But breathe out Bridget-buddies, as, despite the advance word on the quality of instalment number two, it's a more-than-satisfying end result, just slightly less charming than its earlier incarnation.

When we rejoin Ms Jones, she's off to her mother's annual festive gathering, just a few weeks after the conclusion of Bridget Mk One.

Uncle Geoffrey is still there pinching bottoms, while her dad is, as usual, moping in the corner smoking a sneaky fag.

But there's a blissful alteration in the shape of Bridget's boyfriend Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), present and correct and wearing his traditionally horrific Christmas jumper.

Would you believe it, Bridget has become practically a "smug married" herself, staring at her man while he sleeps and generally going gooey in all aspects of her daily life.

But, of course, things must go wrong for our heroine, and so she once again has a traumatic work-related incident and embarrasses herself horribly at a selection of social occasions.

And then dastardly Daniel Cleaver (a superbly arrogant Hugh Grant) returns to put a fly or five into the ointment with his new position as a travel presenter for Sit Up Britain.

Will our Bridge ever get the happy ending she so longs for?

As with the first film, Zellweger is this project's heart, soul and central figure of fun, waddling along and always looking like she's about to get into a horrible mess.

An audience's total identification with her means they will forgive the moments when the plot goes bonkers or when there is a little too much dj vu.

But as much as it's a fun journey, this tale of the totally expected may turn out to be somewhat of a disappointment for some.

If you've ever found Helen Fielding's presentation of women as crazed singletons, who evolve into bunny boilers when they finally snare a relationship, reductive and offensive, then this sweet concoction will not wash. It just seems much too soon that Bridget nosedives into thinking about babies and marriage.

It's also vexing that Bridget's perceived competition in these films always turns out to be some stick insect model-type, and that Firth must play Mr Repressed Posh against Grant's wildly sexual bad boy.

It is director Beeban Kidron's achievement that it's still possible to enjoy the shenanigans despite the limitations.

You'll leave this film smiling and satisfied - but let's not push it with another sequel.