Well, here we are again. Yet another Bridget Jones sequel. If you detect a hint of exasperation in that previous sentence, then I applaud you for your acute observational skills. How many sequels does a rom-com need before it can be retired for good? For what it’s worth though, Bridget Jones’s Baby is not completely terrible.
The third film in the Bridget Jones’s Diary series somewhat shakily places itself within today’s digital, progressive culture. Ever-beloved by her fans for her joie de vivre and long-time love for all things boozy, 2016 Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) is slimmer, seemingly more career-focused, and comes fully equipped with an iPhone, MacBook and iPad. She’s friends with a fun group of childless women and it seems that she finally has everything together, and dare I say it – may not even need a man in her life.
That is, until you take into account the fact that our protagonist is Bridget Jones, and this is a romantic comedy that we’re talking about. By its very nature, Bridget Jones’s Baby requires the existence of a man, or perhaps men, in order to function as a prime example of its genre. Bridget has always wanted a family, complete with husband and baby, and diverting from that narrative would make for some very unhappy rom-com fans. Chilled-out ‘love guru’ Jack Qwant (Patrick Dempsey) enters the picture during a drunken night at Glastonbury in order to keenly fulfil the expectation of audience members. Of course, a Bridget Jones film would not be a Bridget Jones film without the reappearance of one of her exes. So we are also treated to the reintroduction of Bridget’s wry ex Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), by way of yet another drunken interlude, this time at the christening of one of Bridget’s many godchildren. What happens next? Well, as you may have guessed if you’re apt at picking out the entire plot of a movie based on its title alone, Bridget is up the duff, and she has no idea if the father is Mark or Jack. A fight for her affections ensues, as each man tries desperately to prove that he will be the golden father of Bridget’s unborn child.
The magic present within Bridget Jones’s Baby exists solely in the little moments. From the glitching of Bridget’s technology-reliant slideshow during an important work presentation, to a particularly hilarious scene involving a revolving door and Bridget’s baby daddies, some sharp timing and physical comedy elevates the film. Some jokes don’t have the same effect, however, particularly when they involve Patrick Dempsey’s Jack. From his introduction, it seems that his character exists purely to drive the film’s plot. He doesn’t add a great deal of extra flavour, unlike Bridget’s amused doctor, played by co-writer Emma Thompson, or her work colleague slash rowdy drinking buddy Miranda (Sarah Solemani). Renee Zellweger is as self-deprecating and flighty as ever, and she reminds us why Bridget is one of rom-com’s most recognisable characters. Her chemistry with Colin Firth is as natural as a couple nearing their 50th anniversary.
There are a few occasions throughout the film that hint at the notion that yes, Bridget can in fact survive life as a single mum. Yet as we must remind ourselves, Bridget Jones’s Baby is not a drama, or an Oscar-baity arthouse flick. It’s a romantic comedy, and people watch romantic comedies to watch people fall in love with each other, humorously, flaws and all. So if you take the film for what it is, then you’ll have a laugh or two, especially at Bridget’s clutzy relatability, and you might rejoice at love’s power to conquer all. Or if you’re of the cynical variety, you’ll proclaim that the sequel didn’t do anything new and that you’re totally sick of rom-coms. Either/or.
The ‘Bridget Jones’ series is the first movie trilogy directed exclusively by female directors.