Mark Reviews Movies

Bridget Jones's Baby


2 ½ Stars (out of 4)

Director: Sharon Maguire

Cast: Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Sarah Solemani, Gemma Jones, Jim Broadbent, Emma Thompson, Sally Phillips, Shirley Henderson, Kate O'Flynn

MPAA Rating: R (for language, sex references and some nudity)

Running Time: 2:02

Release Date: 9/16/16

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Review by Mark Dujsik | September 15, 2016

The clumsy, naïve, and affably uncertain Bridget Jones makes a pleasant return in Bridget Jones's Baby. One may recall that her last escapade in love and misadventure turned the previously lovable, everyday heroine into a bag of off-putting neuroses (For reasons still unknown, it also had her accidentally involved in drug trafficking in Thailand). Wisely, this entry ignores everything about the plot and the shift in the central character from Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, although the second sequel never quite re-captures the focus on character over situations that made Bridget Jones's Diary such a joyful remedy to the lazier brands of romantic comedies.

Situational humor, though, is the crux of the screenplay by Helen Fielding (who created the character, although this movie isn't based on a novel of hers), Dan Mazer, and Emma Thompson (She also plays Bridget's stern but sympathetic OB-GYN, who tentatively goes along with her "geriatric" patient's harebrained scheme). It's a comedy of errors about the undetermined paternity of Bridget's forthcoming bundle of joy.

See, Bridget has passed the age of 40, and she decides that she's going to make herself into an independent woman, who is free-spirited and doesn't care about the old, romantic drama. One could say that she takes that attitude a bit too far, but in addition to being a judgmental bore, such a person would be someone who doesn't know Bridget.

The movie opens on a note of nostalgia, as one would expect from a sequel arriving 12 years after its predecessor. Bridget, once again played by Renée Zellweger (whose performance, thankfully, returns Bridget to the character's former self, after going over the edge of irrationality), finds herself alone. On the night of her 43rd birthday, she's sitting in her apartment, listening to that sad song about being all by herself. Bridget may have reached her "perfect weight," but she is still single and has no romantic prospects of whom to speak.

All of her friends now have children, and each and every one of them has babysitter issues that prevent them from partying with their friend. Bridget's co-workers care enough to present her with a birthday cake that seems ready to fall apart from the abundance of candles, so she kind of wishes they hadn't known it was her birthday in the first place.

Thus, Bridget makes a birthday resolution to become a new woman. She takes a weekend trip to a music festival with her friend and co-worker Miranda (Sarah Solemani), the anchor of the news program Bridget produces. A subplot involving the network's takeover by a group of social-media-aware Millennials adds a little bite, although the best jokes at the workplace involve Bridget intentionally or unintentionally sabotaging an interview (Bridget taking a phone call leads to Miranda saying about a recently deceased, genocidal dictator, "At least he was always interesting").

At the festival, Bridget meets Jack (Patrick Dempsey), a seemingly perfect and perfectly charming gentleman. The two have a one-night stand, which he seems to think might be more.

She also keeps bumping into her old flame and near-constant love Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), whose marriage is about to end. Eventually, they bump into each other in the more biblical sense of the phrase.

Either of these men could be the cause of Bridget's happy pregnancy, and in the traditional fashion of Bridget Jones, she finds herself trying to juggle the two men's expectations. Each assumes he's the father, because Bridget doesn't mention the other guy to each of them, although she is determined to tell them the truth—eventually.

It's an old comic premise, usually seen on any given episode of a sitcom in which a character—having, for example, set up two dates on the same night—learns the lesson that it's wrong to play with the affections of two people because of one's own ego or indecisiveness. In this case, the stakes are slightly higher than such an outing, although one of the more pleasant elements here is that Bridget is fully able and willing to go about motherhood on her own. She is, after all, now a strong, independent woman who doesn't need the headache of romance to have a fulfilling life. Of course, if you believe that line, you likely are also one of those people who doesn't know our Bridget.

It's still, more or less, about the men, who start competing for Bridget's affection and to look like the more likely father figure. Both are thrilled about the news, and there isn't a sense that either one wants to leave Bridget on her own, although Jack, who turns out to be the billionaire owner of a dating website, wonders if he could raise a child that isn't biologically his. Mark is still his old workaholic self, although a demonstrative act that he's willing to change, quite amusingly, comes at a poor time.

This leaves Bridget decidedly in the middle and forced to make one of two choices. Both of those options seem fine, if that's the way one wants to look at the situation. Bridget Jones's Baby, though, suggests a third choice, although, if it went in that direction, the movie would have to dare to abandon its formulaic trappings and to re-define Bridget as the woman she insists she wants to be. Expectedly, it does not dare.

Copyright © 2016 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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