Somewhat conveniently, I saw both Bridget Jones films less than a week ago, having found them on ITV3 (of course) after returning from watching the abysmal Blair Witch – I enjoyed them, finding them both quite endearing and funny (my temperament may have been affected by the garbage I’d already watched that evening, though). Bridget Jones’s Baby is in much the same spirit as both of these movies – it’s delightfully fluffy, funny and fun, and it makes for a pleasant and entertaining diversion.
Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) is over 40 and single again, but she feels that she has everything under control, focusing on her career as a top news producer. Her love life comes back from the dead when she meets a dashing and handsome American named Jack (Patrick Dempsey) at a music festival, followed by a hook-up with her ex Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) at a christening. Things take a turn when Bridget discovers that she is pregnant – the befuddled mum-to-be must figure out which man is the father, and whether she truly loves either of them.
Research indicates that The Edge of Reason was received far less warmly than the first film, so the pressure was on to see whether this movie would deliver – fortunately, it does. It reunites pretty much all of the talent from the first film, with the exception of Hugh Grant (oh crikey blimey), and they slip right back into their roles.
Zellweger (looking more than ever like a woman who’d take third place in a Renee Zellweger lookalike competition) and Firth slide comfortably back into the characters of Bridget and Darcy, albeit slightly older and wiser versions of them. The lack of Grant is certainly felt (although his absence does lack to an amusing funeral sequence), but his replacement is a good one – Dempsey is scripted as the perfect foil to Darcy (to a tee), and he more than holds his own with the other two, although the script never really leaves you in any doubt about how this love triangle is going to be resolved.
Every main supporting character returns, although they don’t have a massive amount to do – on the other hand, the new additions fare much better. Sarah Solemani gets to have great fun as a news presenter and wildcard, and co-writer Emma Thompson turns up the snark as Bridget’s doctor, often getting the funniest moments.
The film on the whole is generally amusing, but it teeters between the funny moments and the gags that don’t really work. Viewers of the first film may expect to find Bridget here describing the pains of pregnancy – instead, it offers muted satire about hipsters, hashtags and, for some reason, Pussy Riot. In a similar fashion, it also mixes in a lot of pop songs (both old and new) into the picture, taking it to an extreme with a gratuitous Ed Sheeran cameo that suggests acting is not for him. It is a movie that relies heavily on formula, and it’s about a 50-50 shot whether an individual scene will rise above it. This isn’t to take away from the fun of Bridget Jones’s Baby, but there’s nothing new here – the joy is more in the execution than any fresh take it offers on the material.
Bridget Jones’s Baby is a nice addition to the franchise, if not a particularly necessary and demanded one. The plot is predictable, but the joy of these films has always been the characters, and it is a treat to catch up with Bridget. It struggles to be insightful as you’d hope, but it is frequently funny and one of the better sequels to hit the big screen this year.
Director: Sharon Maguire
Cast: Renee Zellweger (Bridget), Colin Firth (Mark), Patrick Dempsey (Jack), Sarah Solemani (Miranda), Emma Thompson (Dr. Rawlings), Jim Broadbent (Dad)
Running Time: 122 Mins