Film review by Jason Day of Bridget Jones’s Baby, in which the hapless singleton played by Rene Zelwegger finds herself pregnant and not knowing who the father is. Co-starring Colin Firth and Patrick Dempsey.
Now no longer a love-lorn 30-something struggling to nail down a career, Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) is a successful TV producer for ‘Hard News’…but still single. Her newscaster and good friend Miranda (Sarah Solemani) spirits her away to a music festival for booze and sex, where Bridget meets and sleeps with handsome American Jack (Patrick Dempsey). A few days later she bumps into her ex, Human Rights Lawyer Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) and sleeps with him, for old times sake. Finding herself pregnant and with no idea who the father could be, she juggles impending motherhood with how to keep both men on side until she can solve the paternal mystery.
Actress Renee Zellweger’s ‘facial rejuvenation’ (as I shall politely refer to it) garnered international headlines in October 2014.
Shockingly noticeable as this was, quite why a Hollywood actress supposedly having aesthetic facial procedures is still deemed so massively newsworthy is equally mystifying.
Those headlines, hitherto buried in the recesses of my brain, came full to the fore when I went to see this film, the third and more than likely not the final instalment in the movie franchise based on Helen Fielding‘s novels and Independent columns. Questions doth abound:
- How is our adorably dumpy, awkward Bridget going to work as a Stepford Wife?
- Will she get Botox shots at a backstreet clinic in Borough Market?
- More importantly, how old are they going to make Bridge in the script?
43 is the age they’ve plumped for, which is agreeably old without actually being ‘geriatric’ (as Emma Thompson’s Obstetrician informs Bridget she is) and conforms to recent stats showing more middle-aged mothers are having children in the UK compared to their under 35 peers.
And Zellweger (now 47 but 40 when planning on the film started) looks comfortably ‘aged’, like a slightly blurred but more toned version of the girl we last saw in The Edge Of Reason (2004), or The Edge Of Mediocrity as I would prefer to call it.
You can take the girl out of the daft but you can’t take the daft out of the girl; Zellweger plays Bridget as a mature silly heart, rounding out her foibles, failures and follies. If you remember her in the other films, this is the same girl making the same mistakes, but with a wiser and more resolute head on her shoulders.
Perhaps that is also part of the reason I wasn’t impressed overall with the film.
There are some big laughs throughout the film and that’s a tall order when a lot of the laughs previously rested with Hugh Grant as Bridget’s caddish other man. Co-writer Emma Thompson does a good job in making this such a rib-tickler (and she also pens herself some of the best funny lines and situations. Very smart!), but I felt like I was stuck in a cinematic time-warp here.
(NB: One new idea thrown in to the film, a completely empty NHS Hospital for Bridget’s impending birth. A lovely piece of fiction; wherever did the filmmakers have conjured that from?).
I also had some problems with the too comfy ending. Colin Firth’s emotionally constipated ‘Yooman Rights’ Lawyer always came out on top in the previous films because High Grant was his competition and, though more fun, was too naughty with other women to be a serious contender for such a thing as a relationship.
Now, with Patrick Dempsey as his smooth but open, thoughtful and loving opposite number, it seems a little odd that Bridget makes the supposedly safe choice again. (And on this point, I’ll try not to be too diverted by the ridiculously handsome Dempsey, who yet again seems unlucky in cinematic love. Will someone get this guy to the altar and happily ever after’d?).
Such is the nature of English girls in love and movie franchises. And on this point, things are left curiously open for a wholly unnecessary fourth film.
What next for our heroine? Bridget Jones’s Middle-Aged Spread? Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Dementia? Bridget Jones: The Trip To Dignitas?
Most of the supporting cast from the previous films reappear; Jones impresses most as Bridget’s mother now standing for the Parish Council and dressing and talking like Margaret Thatcher. But then, she has something other than to do than advise Bridget.
Solemani and O’Flynn as Bridget’s new, monstrous manager who wants to sack all old colleagues, are very fine new additions.
At just over two hours, it takes a long time for Jones to work out who knocked her up, but director Sharon Maguire creditably makes the comic action whip along at such an enjoyable lick you won’t really notice.
Cast & credits
Director: Sharon Maguire. 123 mins. Miramax/Working Title/Studio Canal/Universal. (15)
Producers: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward.
Writers: Helen Fielding, Dan Mazer, Emma Thompson.
Camera: Andrew Dunn.
Music: Craig Armstrong.
Sets: John Paul Kelly.
Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Sarah Solemani, Neil Pearson, Joanna Scanlan, Kate O’Flynn, Emma Thompson, Gemma Jones, Jim Broadbent, Sally Phillips, Shirley Henderson, James Callis.