15 years have passed since Bridget Jones’s Diary, and 12 since its sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. Plenty has changed in the world since, and we see these changes reflected in the films. Flip phones have given way to smartphones. Bridget’s use of a pen with paper diary has turned into fingers typing on a tablet. Hugh Grant has morphed into Patrick Dempsey. Okay, maybe not that last one. However, the characters of the Bridget Jones universe and the traits that make up the characters remain the same. Bridget is still clumsy and awkward. Mark Darcy remains as stoic and controlled as always. Bridget’s parents and friends are still supporting her, whether it’s with a bottle of wine or mini gherkins. In short, BRIDGET JONES’S BABY continues to deliver what fans of the franchise enjoy, whilst refreshingly eschewing many of the clichés that plague other romantic comedies.
Renée Zellweger returns as the titular Bridget Jones, celebrating her birthday single and alone in her flat with a cupcake, a glass of wine, and a dance along to House of Pain’s “Jump Around”. She still works at her television station, this time behind the camera as a producer, responsible for guiding the news show’s main anchor, Miranda (Sarah Solemani), through interviews. Miranda wants to take Bridget out for a good time, because in Miranda’s opinion, all Bridget needs is a good shagging. Bridget is less sure of this approach. The two attend a music festival, and Bridget finds herself in the bed and embrace of dreamy Jack Qwant (Patrick Dempsey). Bridget flees before exchanging contact info, and a week or so later, finds herself in the presence of her old flame, Mark Darcy (Colin Firth). The two find themselves together in bed in much the same manner, and Bridget again departs, this time owing to her firm belief that the two have spent ten years trying and failing to make a relationship work, so there is no point in trying now.
Of course, as the title promises, Bridget discovers she’s pregnant and does not know whether Jack or Mark is the father. Cue a sequence of scenes in which she attempts to determine who is the father, and once unable, she decides to keep each possible dad a secret from each other. While these sequences could easily fall into slapstick, the film keeps the actions comedic without ever crossing that line. For example, most movies would handle the exposition of Jack’s character exposition in a straightforward manner: Bridget and Jack would go out for dinner, and we’d hear all about what he does and who he is. Instead, Jack is brought on Bridget’s news show without Jack knowing Bridget is behind it, and live, on-air, we learn about his character. It’s a fun and different way of getting all that exposition across – with some tension and stakes thrown in for good measure.
Dempsey also injects freshness into the proceedings. After two films in which Hugh Grant’s character, Daniel Cleaver, fights Mark Darcy for Bridget Jones, it’s a welcome change to have a new love interest entirely. Dempsey is twinkle-eyed throughout – charming and almost too perfect – causing plenty of suspense over whom Bridget will choose to fall in love with (or fall in love with again). The movie never lets the audience get too comfortable as it ping-pongs Bridget’s affection and indecision back and forth between the two men, keeping her decision and the truth of who is the father just out of reach. And of course, we get plenty of helpings of Bridget’s own awkward nature preventing any easy decision as well.
Bridget Jones’s Baby is a sweet and funny movie that remains a step above other romantic comedies. There’s plenty to enjoy in the film, even for those who tend to avoid such movies. A great deal of time may have passed since Bridget’s last outing, but it’s clear Jones, Darcy and all the other characters still have lives worth at least this one more movie.
Running Time: 123 minutes
Wil Loper | Contributor