Bridget Jones is a beloved heroine for a number of reasons – her fumbling wit, her binge-drinking, her imperfect figure, her inherent ability to cock up any life event that involves public speaking. She was our first “Trainwreck” before it became mainstream. A lot of die-hard Bridget fans were lukewarm to the unwarranted sequel, The Edge of Reason, so it seemed futile to revive the franchise twelve years later.
Bridget Jones’s Baby doesn’t drastically alter the formula and Bridget has changed just the right amount from when we left her last. There was quite a bit of backlash against Renée Zellweger and Director Sharon Maguire’s decision to make Bridget “skinny” for the film. Ignoring the fact that Bridget probably ever only weighed around the sixty-five kilo mark, it’s understandable that Zellweger, a woman now in her late forties, wouldn’t want to gain the weight a third time. While it is initially a little disconcerting to see a version of Bridget without a ruddy face and a few extra kilos, it’s a completely justifiable choice considering the unfair criticism Zellweger has received about her appearance from the media in recent years.
Now forty-three, Bridget might be a little more secure in herself and a tad wiser, but she’s still hopeless at maintaining her romantic relationships and continues to humiliate herself at work. The film opens with single Bridget celebrating her birthday alone in her apartment with just a cupcake and the lyrics of All By Myself to keep her company, a throwback to the first film that indulges a little too much in nostalgia. Having split from Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) several years earlier, Bridget is beginning to reach a point in her life where she can revel in her self-professed spinsterhood. Enter a new romantic prospect in the pleasing form of Patrick Dempsey, couple that with a brief reunion with Mr Darcy and suddenly Bridget is “up the duff” with no idea who the father is. It’s not exactly a groundbreaking plot, but it is a great way to mature the character of Bridget Jones as she reconciles with the idea of becoming a mother and prepares for the possibility that she may have to raise the baby by herself.
Except for the noticeable absence of Hugh Grant, all original actors are back for the new instalment. But fear not Daniel Cleaver fans; the man does not go unmentioned. Firth is still charming as Mark Darcy in that stoic, awkward way that he perfected years ago. Bridget’s colourful cast of friends all make an appearance, including Sally Phillips, Shirley Henderson and James Callis, though now with partners and children of their own, leaving Bridget as the last single member of their group and a godmother several times over. The film also introduces Bridget’s new friend, Miranda, a Hard News anchor played delightfully by Sarah Solemani. Miranda is roughly the age of Bridget in the first film and it’s a smart decision to add her to the cast to coax Bridget out of her shell now that her other closest friends are preoccupied with parental responsibilities. Co-writer Emma Thompson plays Bridget’s gynaecologist and is, naturally, a gift to us all. With her expressive face and impeccable comedic timing, that should hardly come as a surprise.
Try as he might, Patrick Dempsey cannot fill the Daniel Cleaver-shaped hole missing from the film, but Jack (Dempsey) is such a genuinely kind, emotionally honest guy that at times he almost convinces the audience that he is the better romantic option for Bridget. Still, it’s hard to ever truly invest in his relationship with Bridget since Mark Darcy has been sold as her soulmate in two prior films.
Though the script is penned by Helen Fielding herself, as well as Emma Thompson and Dan Mazor, Bridget Jones’s Baby is the first film in the series not to be based on Helen Fielding’s novels. The script is clumsy at times, the generic meet-cute between Bridget and Jack at a music festival being a prime example. But most of the jokes are still sharp and the cast bounce off each other in such a familiar way that it’s easy to overlook the clunky aspects of the film like Bridget misusing hashtags and not knowing who Ed Sheeran is. Bridget Jones’s Baby is purely fan service and although it was never going be as fresh or original as Bridget Jones’s Diary, the film is entirely capable of standing on its own and delivers a satisfying conclusion to Bridget’s story.
THE REEL WORD: 7/10