BRIDGET JONES’S BABY

Reviewed by GREG KING

Director: Sharon Maguire

Stars: Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Emma Thompson, Sarah Solemani, Jim Broadbent, Gemma Jones, Shirley Henderson, Neil Pearson, Sally Phillips, Patrick Malahide, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Ed Sheeran, Enzo Cilenti, Celia Imrie.
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In 1995 author Helen Fielding created the character of Bridget Jones, a thirty something single professional woman living in London, for a column in London’s Independent newspaper. Bridget Jones was an iconic character for single women, and the character became so popular that Fielding wrote a novel called Bridget Jones’s Diary in which she further explored the innermost thoughts and worries of the character and her struggle to decide between the two handsome men in her life. In 2002 that novel was filmed, starring American actress Renee Zellweger in the title role. The film was one of the classic British romantic comedies. It spawned a disappointing and forgettable sequel four years later with The Edge Of Reason, that put paid to any more instalments in the Bridget Jones saga for over a decade.
Now some fifteen years later we have this third instalment. As the title suggests, this time around Bridget is expecting a baby. The biggest complication here though is that she is not sure who the father is, which leads to some awkward and embarrassing moments.
When the film opens Bridget is celebrating her 43rd birthday, alone again and feeling sorry for herself. She is also now a producer on a nightly television news program that is in the midst of a makeover. To try and cheer Bridget up, her best friend, and news presenter Miranda (Sarah Solemani) takes her away for a Coachella-like music festival in rural England. There she falls into the arms of the handsome and rich American Jack Qwant (Grey’s Anatomy heartthrob Patrick Dempsey), a millionaire tech guru whose dating website uses algorithms to find the perfect compatible partner. Bridget and Jack sleep together and then go their separate ways.
A week later Bridget attends christening where she and her former flame Mark Darcy (Colin Firth, from The King’s Speech, etc) are the godparents. The busy and highly strung QC is now in the throes of a divorce, and the couple exchange a few telling glances during the afternoon. But that evening, during the party, the couple slip away and sleep together.
Bridget soon finds herself pregnant – but the real question is which of the two men is the father? Bridget tries to keep the two men ignorant of the other, but eventually they learn the truth which leads to some awkward encounters as they try to deal with the situation rationally. This is again the comedy of embarrassment, and there are plenty of laughs, and some slapstick moments as Bridget finds herself caught between two lovers.
This is the first film in the series without Richard Curtis aboard in the scripting department although it adheres closely to his style. Fielding herself has written the script along with Dan Mazer, better known for his collaborations with Sacha Baron Cohen on Ali G, Borat and Bruno and their politically incorrect sense of humour. Here though the humour is a bit more retrained, although there are a few attempts at gross out humour. Original director Sharon Maguire returns to the director’s chair, and being familiar with the character and the formula she keeps a firm grip on proceedings.
Despite being absent from the screen for five years herself, Zellweger slips back into the character comfortably. She has natural charm, a self effacing style, great screen presence, and her comic timing is again impeccable, and she makes the most of Bridget’s awkward moments. Firth can play the quintessential stuffy Brit in his sleep, and he is suitably aloof and brings a quiet dignity to his role as Darcy. And Dempsey has plenty of charm and sex appeal as Qwant.
Many regulars from the series also return in small roles including Shirley Henderson, Neil Pearson and Sally Phillips. Jim Broadbent brings quiet authority to his role as Bridget’s understanding and supportive father, while Gemma Jones is good in a smaller role as Bridget’s mother who is attempting to start a new career in local politics and is initially disapproving of her pregnancy and status as a single mother. But it is Emma Thompson, who also helped polish the script, who steals the show – she is fabulous as Dr Rawlings,  Bridget’s cynical obstetrician.
After such a long absence one could be forgiven for thinking that this belated sequel would be an empty exercise that would merely go through the motions and try to cash in on the character’s enduring appeal. Thankfully though Bridget Jones’s Baby does manage to capture some of the spirit and charm of the original film, and is is a bit of fun. It has broad appeal beyond the normal chick flick audience as well. Fans of the books, and the original film in particular, will relish this delightful and entertaining romcom.

★★★

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