Genre: Romance, Comedy
Director: Sharon Maguire
Cast: Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Jim Broadbent, Gemma Jones, Emma Thompson
Release Date: September 16th, 2016
There is something undeniably refreshing about Bridget Jones, the hapless singleton from the 2001 comedy Bridget Jones’ Diary. Created by novelist Helen Fielding, Jones (played onscreen by Renée Zellweger) was a relatable character whose struggles for love and success seemed contemporary and relevant to the modern age. It’s been sixteen years though since that film and her struggles haven’t seemed to change. Despite brief stints with happiness, the still-struggling (and still single) Bridget seems to be back where she started in Bridget Jones’s Baby, her third cinematic outing.
The feature starts out with her single and alone (all of her friends cancelled on her) on her 43rd birthday. She’s still hoping for love but she’s also now painfully longing for a child.
After sleeping with a complete stranger named Jack (Patrick Dempsey) at a rock festival and then rekindling her romance with Mr. Darcy (Colin Firth) though, Jones does become pregnant. The problem: she doesn’t know who the father is.
Just another typical adventure for the easily-overwhelmed Bridget Jones.
Directed by Sharon Maguire (who helmed Bridget Jones’s Diary), the feature tries too hard to wring comedy out of Bridget’s personal failings (and there are many). It gets to the point where the situations Bridget finds herself in just aren’t funny anymore.
Consider Bridget’s day job. She’s a producer for a local television show. As part of that position, she oftentimes feeds questions to the on-air host. In an early sequence, her ineptitude at work inadvertently leads the clueless on-air host to speak highly of a deceased dictator. The comments make it on air and yet Bridget keeps her position. Later, she makes a complete fool out of the show when she forces the host to question Jack, a relationship expert whose new book is being promoted on the show, about his ability to conceive.
She keeps her job. In one instance after another, the script uses these ridiculous set-ups for laughs that only reveal how over-the-top this story is. Bridget would’ve been fired for one of these encounters but she keeps her job through many of them.
Throughout the entire film, Bridget acts outrageously but still gets the benefit of the doubt. Jack, the man Jones slept with after casually walking into his tent, forgives her time and again for her misdeeds. Bridget humiliates him on television, misleads him about her pregnancy and treats him poorly. But he carries on, finding something to love abut Bridget that viewers will have a hard time understanding.
Mr. Darcy, though, seems like a fuller and more relatable character. He’s there for Bridget but grows tired of her silly antics. He makes some mistakes along the way but at least he recognizes that Bridget acts like an irresponsible child and never gets called out for it. He, at least, calls her out.
There are a few nice moments here though in the midst of the story. When Jack imagines starting a traditional relationship with Bridget, the results are romantic and lovely. A scene featuring the climactic birth also has its moments as Jack and Mr. Darcy clash about the birth plan and Bridget makes a subtle but genuine gesture implying that she knows who she wants the father to be.
Fielding wrote the screenplay here alongside Dan Mazer and Emma Thompson (who makes a memorable impression during her few scenes as Bridget’s doctor). For fans of Bridget Jones and all of her antics, this movie might work but for others, her troubles seem a bit tired. The story is over-the-top and it seems ridiculous that people (her work colleagues, her dueling paramours) often stick with Bridget even when she keeps failing. One wonders if viewers will do the same.
Review by: John Hanlon