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Review: Bridget Jones’s Baby (2016)

Bridget Jones’s Baby (2016)

Directed by: Sharon Maguire

Premise: The third film in the series. Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) has a one night stand with a handsome stranger (Patrick Dempsey) and shortly thereafter reunites with her on-again-off-again boyfriend (Colin Firth). Bridget discovers she’s pregnant but it is unclear who is the father.

What Works: Bridget Jones’s Baby will be satisfying viewing for fans of this series. The third installment sees the return of director Sharon Maguire, who had helmed the original film, and she gets the series back on track following 2004’s poorly-received sequel Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, which was directed by Beeban Kidron. Bridget Jones’s Baby recaptures much of what was so charming about the first film. It returns many of the supporting characters and it has the same mix of wit, silliness, and intelligence that worked so well in the 2001 film. However, Bridget Jones’s Baby also benefits from the passage of time. Coming fifteen years after the original picture, Bridget now faces middle age and a career crisis and this film uses her maturity to bring a few new perspectives to love and relationships. In that respect, Bridget Jones’s Baby coasts upon the trend of nostalgia sequels. Like Jurassic World and Creed, this film is predicated on giving the audience a new version of something familiar while also creating a film that is contemporary. The heart of the Bridget Jones series has been the performances by Renee Zellweger as Bridget and Colin Firth as her reserved but good hearted boyfriend Mark. Zellweger and Firth pick up where they left off and both are quite good in this film. Bridget Jones’s Baby also features Emma Thompson in a supporting role as an obstetrician. Thompson punches up what could otherwise be a bland role and the actress also has a writing credit on the film. One of the elements that distinguished the original Bridget Jones film was the way it both fulfilled and subverted some of the tropes around romantic comedies. That is also true of the newest installment. This story begins with the assumption that Bridget must end up with whichever man is the biological father of her child but the film gradually questions that assumption, liberating Bridget to find a path to happiness.

What Doesn’t: Bridget Jones’s Baby is too long. The movie clocks in at just over two hours and there’s no good reason for it to be that length. The overextended running time weighs on the movie because the story does not put enough at stake. Bridget experiences an unplanned pregnancy in her early forties while organizational changes are occurring at work; her pregnancy is a risk to both her health and her career but the movie doesn’t make much out of that. Bridget Jones’s Baby also fails to produce much drama or comedy out of the pregnancy. In a way that’s a relief since pregnancy stories tend to be clichéd but for a movie that’s about a pregnant woman there’s little in it about that experience. The conceit of Bridget Jones’s Baby doesn’t have much drama to it and the premise invites cynicism from the viewer. As in the previous movies, Bridget must choose between one of two handsome, respectable, well mannered, and very wealthy men. It’s not a very identifiable dilemma. For that matter, the drama of this movie is almost entirely contrived. Bridget must choose between these two men and that choice is predicated on which one of them is the father of her child. She could get a DNA test that would settle the matter but the filmmakers dodge that solution to protract the conflict. The ending of the film rushes though too many life changes. In fact, the final coda sequence could have been the premise for another movie but it may be just as well that Bridget’s story (and presumably the series) ends here.  

Bottom Line: Bridget Jones’s Baby is a fun return of a beloved character. It’s familiar enough to give the audience what they’re looking for but it’s also new enough to justify a third picture. Bridget Jones’s Baby isn’t a great film but it ought to satisfy its intended audience. 

Episode: #613 (September 25, 2016)