Bridget Jones's Baby
2016, R, 122 min. Directed by Sharon Maguire. Starring Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Sarah Solemani, Emma Thompson, Sally Phillips, Shirley Henderson, Jim Broadbent, Gemma Jones.
REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., Sept. 16, 2016
Single and marking her 43rd birthday in fuzzy slippers, alone in her flat, Londoner Bridget Jones (Zellweger) wonders to herself: “How the hell did I end up here again?” The same question may trouble the wary viewer. After all, the flagship Bridget Jones’s Diary – launched in 2001 on film following massively popular incarnations in newspaper and book, beloved by many for its cheery uplift of an emphatically but endearingly imperfect woman drunk-stumbling through her early 30s – already spawned one film sequel, 2004’s Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, and it was a wretched thing, grotesquely mocking its heroine. Would this second sequel heap further indignity on the plucky but pratfall-prone Bridge?
Helmed by original director Sharon Maguire and scripted by Jones’ creator Helen Fielding, Dan Mazer, and Emma Thompson (who co-stars as Bridget’s tart gynecologist), Bridget Jones’s Baby, happily, inherits none of Edge of Reason’s cruel DNA. It’s a welcome course correction. No longer an on-camera punch line, Bridget now produces a nightly TV news program with confidence and (oh my) even competence. But her love life has flatlined ever since she and stony human rights lawyer Mark Darcy (Firth) split up. Goaded on by her friends to get back out there, she sleeps with two men in the course of one week – a blue-eyed American charmer (Dempsey) and her irresistible ex, Darcy. That math carries over to two potential baby daddies territorially pissing over one fetus in gestation – in short, the very familiar ground of two men tussling over Bridget’s affections.
Is this latest outing as bold or bracing or funny as the original film? Certainly not. We’re well settled into our seats now, but there’s some comfort in how the cushion already knows a body’s grooves. Bridget Jones’s Baby is at peace with itself, in perfect pace with a Bridget now in middle age – that time of life when, if you’re lucky, you’ve learned to stop giving quite so many fucks what other people think. If you wanted to be grimmer about it, you could call it being more okay with mediocrity. Shrug? This Baby’s no great shakes – it’s only been 12 hours since I saw it and I’ve already forgotten almost everything about it. Yet I remember it with something like fondness.