Bridget gets sprogged up!
We’ve been expecting Bridget’s return – and now she’s returned, and she’s expecting.Cold Feet, Absolutely Fabulous, The Office, Robot Wars… the early noughties are really having a moment. There’s just something about Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger and that perfect confused-frazzled-adorable face) that’s comforting, and in this third instalment in the Jones saga our girl finds herself in even more shenanigans than usual.At this point, I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to say that Bridget gets pregnant and the film basically deals with all the trials and tribulations this entails. After two improbable and unusual sexual successes, Bridget finds herself pregnant – and none the wiser as to who the father is. Just think of this film as Mamma Mia! but less musical, more funny and less awful.
The two potential sperm-donors are charming dating-guru Jack (Patrick Dempsey) and good old heart-breaker Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), and Bridget and her merry band of suitably quirky friends must discover who the lucky father is. As we’ve come to expect after two Bridget Jones films, this one is stuffed full of having-it-all jokes, outstanding supporting performances and some amusing physical comedy. Having taken a break from the screen (Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason was released all the way back in 2004), the characters and the comedy are all endearingly fresh and allow the, at times, utterly predictable plot to potter on, despite some lukewarm one-liners and general mundaneness.
Bridget Jones’s Baby reverts back to the original British/London/klutzy model that made the first film such a success, and leaves the ambitious set pieces and tawdry globetrotting back in 2004 where that dismal sequel belongs. Bridget is still in Borough working in the media, still a loveable dope, still an unruly mix of diffident, shy and outrageous. Zellweger, after all these years, still manages to completely embody this character that was first brought to life in print more than twenty years ago and first appeared on-screen in 2001. After a few years away from Hollywood’s big leagues, Zellweger’s return here is a welcome one, and it’s comforting to recognise good old Bridget in her face and mannerisms, particularly after all that hideous gossip about Zellweger’s appearance.
As good as Zellweger is, the main draw here is the ensemble cast, with a nice mix of Bridget stalwarts and new faces. Firth is as dry, proper and charming as he was back in 2001, and Gemma Jones and Jim Broadbent put in the usual scene-stealing turns as Bridget’s technology-phobic parents. Devastatingly, there’s no return for Hugh Grant’s iconic Daniel, but Dempsey manages to seamlessly fit into the customary love-triangle and the Zellweger-Firth-Dempsey axis works perfectly to bring the genuinely funny hospital sequence to life. Also notable are Sarah Solemani, who is excellent as Miranda, a presenter on the TV show Bridget works on, and the inimitable Emma Thompson (who also co-wrote the film) who puts in a droll turn as Bridget’s doctor.
Renée Zellweger, after all these years, still manages to completely embody this character
As a third instalment, the film was always going to struggle bridging the gap between 2001 and 2016, and the mix of returning and new cast members is really the only place it manages to get it right. The soundtrack is a jarring mix of contemporary and classic (and some songs that are so 2001 it hurts), and for every one chuckle-inducing joke in the script there are two that only go to show how early-2000s Ms Jones truly is. Gags about Facetime and Instagram aren’t really going to cut it in 2016, and their inclusion feels like a real symptom of the film’s indecision about whether it’s a warm piece of nostalgia or an attempt at bringing the franchise into the present day.
There are a few great moments in the film – both classic Bridget physical comedy (falling over, varying degrees of nakedness), and dry sarcasm from Firth and Thompson – and it’s packed with enough nostalgia to ensure a decent box office showing. It’s definitely refreshing and entirely encouraging to see a romantic comedy with a heroine over the age of 40, and one who deals with unplanned pregnancy, no less!
Bridget Jones fans, of course, will flock to this film. But ultimately this is an exercise in celebrating the original film, and doesn’t really offer much that is new or ground-breaking. While I’m 100% behind getting more female protagonists and female-driven films put through Hollywood, I’m not convinced Bridget Jones’s Baby is the high-point of female representation in cinema. That being said, it does exactly what it says on the tin; it’s a fun, silly and enjoyable comedy that while not hitting any great heights, manages to entertain and is another important tally in the “female-driven films” column.
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