BRIDGET JONES’S BABY
Director: Sharon Maguire
Starring: Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Jim Broadbent, Gemma Jones, Celia Imrie, Sarah Solemani
It’s been fifteen years since Renée Zellweger first brought Bridget Jones to the big screen. She’s back and celebrating her 43rd birthday with a mixed bag of emotions. She’d rather not celebrate, but her adoring coworkers throw her an “R.I.P” party at the office to celebrate. This birthday also means a surprise getaway to a music festival thanks to her friend and colleague, Miranda (Solemani), from the news station. In pure Bridget Jones fashion, she tends to make a fool of herself and promptly falls face first in a pile of mud. Luckily for her, the extremely good-looking Jack Qwant (Dempsey) is there to pick her and flirt with her in pure Prince Charming style. They depart for a majority of the night until Bridget drunkenly stumbles into his tent. Naturally a passionate sexual encounter ensues. Bridget is perfectly content with her one-night stand. A few days later, she runs into ex-flame Mark Darcy (Firth) at a christening, as both of them are now godparents for a mutual friend’s newborn. They can’t quite seem to take their eyes off each other, which leads to another steamy one-night only affair for Bridget. She has no problems with these “no strings attached” types of hookups until a month later when she discovers she is pregnant. Thanks to the timing of both of her sexual conquests, she doesn’t know if the father is the all-American Jack or her forever lover, Mark. Oddly enough, both men are perfectly content with being the father, which makes it all the harder for Bridget to come clean about the fact there is another guy in the picture.
Bridget Jones’s Baby is that sequel we didn’t quite see coming. The second film, Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason, was a poor waste of everyone’s talents. Star Renée Zellweger took some time off from Hollywood and it seemed like we wouldn’t see a happy finale for this character we once fell in love with all those years ago. By golly, here we are and much to my surprise, it is a delightful return to form. I think of a majority of this is due to the creative team of the first film coming back into the fold including director Sharon Maguire and author Helen Fielding who is back as one of the film’s screenwriters along with Emma Thompson. Yes, that Emma Thompson who probably came in for some touch ups during filming as she also plays Bridget’s doctor in the film. She’s a natural scene-stealer as the no-nonsense doctor who has zero patience for Bridget’s daddy issues.
I want to go back to Edge of Reason one more time as it was an uneven mess that had no idea what it wanted out of its plot and characters. Baby aptly stays on the right trajectory through the entire movie. It has that easy, silly humor that has the audience consistently laughing throughout the entire movie. It starts off fairly naturalistic, bringing out the more realistic side to an older Bridget. I enjoyed this newfound viewpoint for the character. As the film progresses, it goes back into living in the world of a frothy, British rom-com. You have the classic unfortunate accidents which include getting caught in the rain and embarrassing yourself at work, all the while two men duke it out to prove who will be the better daddy. Plus, there are other lavish comedic moments along the way. For me there was never a question of who the writers wanted you to think was the father. The question is if that is really the right choice in the end.
Bridget Jones’s Baby succeeds at not feeling like one of those much-delayed reunion movies that just feels odd with actors giving half-ass performances for an easy paycheck. I fully believe that everyone that decided to come back not only did it for the fans, but because they love these characters. It is an utter joy to see Renée Zellweger back on the big screen. She can play the leading lady in dramatic roles, but she makes for a great character actress who is not afraid to get down and dirty in a role. She’s been gone for too long, and the character of Bridget Jones perfectly captures how great she is with comedic timing. We’re seeing an older, more mature Bridget, but she’s still a fumbling mess around her Prince Charmings. She reminds us all of our dating faux pas.
You do find out what happens to Hugh Grant’s character, but Patrick Dempsey is a nice substitute for him as Jack Qwant. He’s the CEO of a dating website which brings online dating in the world of Bridget Jones. He’s an admirable character, which makes it a bit harder for her to decide who she wants to be the father of the baby. With Dempsey’s character, the movie asks the question of what makes more sense between falling in love the old fashioned way or meeting someone who’s right on paper based on algorithms and statistics. He spars well with Colin Firth, and it’s just a treat to see Firth wear that Darcy suit all over again. He’s just so dashing in every role he takes on.
This third entry in the Bridget Jones franchise acts as a nice closure for fans who have come to enjoy this character after multiple viewings of that first film. No one has watched that second one more than once or twice. Part three is wildly funny from start to finish, which can be rare in the rom-com genre. Director Sharon Maguire, along with Helen Fielding, has found a way to make the character feel familiar again without feeling dated. I’m hoping this wasn’t just some fluke and that Zellweger will keep making more films. It may be hard to find another character as special as Bridget was for her career, but if you remember her in Chicago, Cold Mountain, or Jerry Maguire she has that spark and pull that lures you in.
Is It Worth Your Trip to the Movies? Fear not as we’re back to the Bridget Jones we all love and adore.
RATING: 3.5 out of 5 TICKET STUBS