Directed by Sharon Maguire
Written by Hellen Fielding, Dan Mazer, and Emma Thompson
Starring: Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Jim Broadbent, Gemma Jones, and Emma Thompson
Runtime: 122 minutes
We live in an age of sequels and many of the sequels over the last few years have either been mega-franchise related (Marvel, Star Wars, etc.) or long awaited/long gestating projects of films from more than ten years ago. Bridget Jones’s Baby is one such that is 12 years after the prior film, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Is this a long-awaited sequel? Probably not, after the dismal performance of the last film. It is, however, welcome because it’s actually an entertaining film in its own right.
Renée Zellweger reprises the role that made her famous 15 years ago, and as we meet Bridget again, we find her in almost the same position as we met her: on the couch listening to sad songs and drinking wine. She’s single again, despite Mark Darcy (Colin Firth)’s proposal ten years prior (the events of this film are set 10 years after The Edge of Reason, which itself was set only a month after Bridget Jones’s Diary, so real time is not a factor here). She is no longer an on-air television reporter, though. Now she is a high-powered news producer, and quite good at her job. Her younger friend and anchor of her news show, Miranda (Sarah Solemani) convinces Bridget to go to a music festival with her so Bridget can ‘get shagged’ and Bridget reluctantly agrees to go. There she meets (and sleeps with) Jack (Patrick Dempsey). Not long after, she re-encounters Mark, who is getting a divorce, and she sleeps with him too. She then discovers that she is pregnant, but she does not know which one is the father, something she reluctantly discloses to her OBGYN (Emma Thompson) and Bridget’s life is once again fraught with a complicated love triangle after she unceremoniously tells each man she is pregnant, while leaving out the fact that it may or may not be their child until later.
Hellen Fielding, upon whose novels this series is based, takes up screenwriting duties once again (as she did on the previous two films based on her works). She shares those duties with Dan Mazer, best known for his collaborations with Sasha Baron Cohen and most notably for working on the screenplay of the brilliant Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan and Emma Thompson, Oscar-winning screenwriter of Sense and Sensibility as well as being an Oscar-winning actress. These three writers bring back the heart and genuine lovability of Bridget that was sorely missing from The Edge of Reason and remind us why we like her in the first place. The jokes are plentiful, but are never forced and all emerge from the characters and the understandable situation Bridget finds herself in. They work hard to add layers and dimensions to the established characters while rounding out the new ones as well (Emma Thompson’s Dr. Rawlings is a stand-out). They avoid the ‘third verse same as the first’ issue of a familiar plot (Bridget at the top of a love triangle, yet again) by making each character grow throughout the film. Bridget and Mark have grown into similar but different in the intervening ten years, and Jack is the wild card American billionaire (he created a dating site based on mathematical algorithms similar to Match.com). All of the complications come from Bridget’s sheer inability to interact with other people and none of it is forced.
Also returning is Diary director Sharon Maguire after sitting out The Edge of Reason. She brings back a lot of the heart that was missing from the second film and makes this one much warmer. She uses her actors well, getting Zellweger’s best performance in years and really giving Firth and Dempsey room to explore their character’s rivalry. She also doesn’t mess around with the ending much either, unlike the first two that seemed to end three times each. She does try to keep you guessing about the ending, but it’s not done very well because you can guess the ending by the middle of the third act. It’s not unsatisfying, but the game she plays is a little annoying.
Bridget Jones’s Baby isn’t a revolutionary comedy or date movie (I abhor the term ‘chick flick’. It’s so blasted reductive), but it is entertaining. The audience was laughing throughout and for good reason. It never strikes a false note and plays its emotions true. Zellweger is finally lovable again and Firth has excellent comic timing that he so rarely gets to show off. Everything clicks and all the right notes are hit, making it a pleasant distraction from the end-of-summer blockbusters and the early fall awards contenders.