Bridget Jones’s Baby Review
BRIDGET “MAMA” DRAMA
In 2001, moviegoers everywhere were introduced to the cinematic character of Bridget Jones in the movie Bridget Jones’s Diary. Based on the book of the same (written by English novelist Helen Fielding in 1996), Bridget Jones’s Diary follows the exploits of Bridget Jones (played by Renée Zellweger), a single-working thirty something female in London, who tries her hand of love, courting the romances of Daniel Cleaver (played by Hugh Grant) and Mark Darcy (played by Colin Firth). In the ways of romantic comedies (rom-coms), the movie was generally well-received by its viewers and critics, becoming a somewhat classic in its subgenre. In 2004, Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason, its sequel, was released, further continuing the misadventures of Bridget, but was met with some mixed to negative reviews. Skip ahead to this year (2016) as Universal Pictures (and Miramax) along with director Sharon Maguire sees the return of Miss Jones in the new sequel film Bridget Jones’s Baby. With just such a lengthy gap between this movie and its previous installment, does this sequel find its romantic comedy groove or is it just another mediocre and belated sequel by Hollywood?
In the year of 2016, Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger) is turning 43 and she doesn’t like it…at all. With the female is single and childless, Bridget fills her daily diary with concerns about loneliness, finding her friends off raising their own children (enjoying the life of parenthood with their respective partners). Working as studio producer for a news show currently being assessed by Alice (Kate O’Flynn), a millennial official to rebrand the show, Bridget is urged to have fun with her life, joining her co-worker pal Miranda (Sarah Solemani) at a music festival where a chance encounter presents itself with online dating tycoon, Jack Qwant (Patrick Dempsey). Charmed by the new stranger, Bridget enjoys a drunken one-night stand with Jack, fleeing the next morning. At a christening party, Bridget has another fated encounter, reuniting with her old flame Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), who’s in the process of a divorce, making him available once again. Despite their troubled history of romance, passion leads them to the bed for one-night stand. Three months later, Bridget finds herself pregnant, but unsure of who the father of the child is. This, of course, brings Jack and Mark in her life, unsure of who to fall in love with and who is the actual father.
THE GOOD / THE BAD
In the ways of romantic comedies, you can’t go wrong with choosing Bridget Jones movies. I remember when they first film came out that I wasn’t interested in it, a sort of “chick flick” I called it as I was a teenager at the time and wanted more to see action movies. I did eventually see the movie (I think around 2005 or 2006) and the movie was good, a pretty even keel feature of romantic comedy variety. That following year, I saw the second movie (Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason) and thought that it was, more or less, the same as the first one, but it was a bit of “blah” as it really didn’t warrant a sequel. Plus, it was a bit goofy at times. With those two films out of the way (done and complete), I really didn’t expect to see another Bridget Jones movie on the horizon. However, lo and behold, that a new one has surfaced with Bridget Jones’s Baby being the third installment in the franchise. At first, I wasn’t going to see it (probably wait for it to come out as a digital download), but I decided to take a chance (I was kind of in a rom-com mood). What did I think of it? Well…. while still a bit unnecessary and long overdue as a sequel film, Bridget Jones’s Baby is an improvement from Edge of Reason and is a lighthearted reunion with older Bridget.
Returning to the director chair for this Bridget Jones sequel is Sharon Maguire, who did Bridget Jones’s Diary as well as the movie Incendiary. Maguire’s return to the franchise sees the spirt of the first film return in this second sequel. Yes, it’s considered an R-rated movie, but (for the most part) Bridget’s Jones’s Baby is a lighthearted romantic comedy that plays to the strength of what made the first movie well-liked. Well, it doesn’t do better than Diary, Baby is still a breezy film, catching up with Bridget and her shenanigans of love, romance, and now…pregnancy. In terms of filmmaking, the movie is presented in a favorable light, thanks to director of photography Andrew Dunn and costume designer by Nina Gold. Also, the song selection in the movie is pretty fun, choosing several recognizable songs from today and yesteryear, including House of Pain’s “Jump Around”, Jess Glynne’s “Hold My Hand”, and Ellie Goulding’s “Still Falling for You” just to name a few.
With the help of screenwriters Emma Thompson (I totally forgot she was an Oscar-winning screenwriter) and Dan Mazer, the mind behind several Sacha Baron Cohen projects (Da Ali G Show, Borat, and Bruno), Maguire navigates the franchise character (Bridget Jones) through another escapade of choosing love between two men, while also adding pregnancy / a newborn into the mix. Thompson and Mazer also play with the idea of having Bridget, now a forty-something year old, in 2016, facing the challenges / pressures of today’s world (both personal and professional). From what I heard (I haven’t read the books, so I have to take with a grain of salt), this that this commentary coincides with Fielding’s 2013 third novel (Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy). In addition, much like a lot of romantic comedies out there, humor does play a part of the narrative and (overall) does a good job in Bridget Jones’s Baby. I found myself laughing out loud several times with plenty raunchy quips and some light slapstick scenarios. Juxtaposing that, the movie also finds it way with matters of the heart (atypical for the franchise and its genre). Its marriage of storytelling that’s commonplace (humor and heart), but it definitely works in this movie, especially since the Bridget Jones’s Baby is more refined than Edge of Reason was.
While the feature is light (as R-rated rom-coms’ go), there are several things that hold Bridget Jones’s Baby back from being the best in the franchise. For starters, like what I’ve said for most of my 2016 belated sequel film reviews, the movie is late too its own party in popularity. It’s being almost 12 years since Edge of Reason came out (and 15 years since Diary) and the studio heads (who held control over the franchise) should’ve capitalized on the relevance of Bridget Jones (i.e. around that mid 2000s). Maybe they halted another installment because of how Edge of Reason was poorly received by critics and moviegoers. Whatever the reason, it feels like this movie (Bridget Jones’s Baby) is, more or less, just away to rejuvenate the franchise, but it feels “too little, too late”. In actuality, the franchise (and its fan base) really didn’t scream for another feature film to be made. Thus, Bridget Jones’s Baby feels unnecessary from the get-go (basically an excuse to see Bridget in a cinematic 2016 world).
Another problem with the movie is that it follows the standard rom-com formula or rather the formula of the franchise (a la Bridget Jones’s Diary). This means that Maguire plays it “too safe”, following a predictable path, albeit a bit enjoyable one, but it still easy to guess what’s going to happen in upcoming scenes. In truth, it’s actually quite easy to figure out which guy (Jack or Darcy) Bridget is going to ultimately fall in love with by the film’s end. Basically, there’s really no surprise to be had in Bridget Jones’s Baby as it meanders through the common rom-rom troupes from start to finish. Whether that’s good or bad is up to the viewer. Personally, I didn’t expect it to be anything new from this movie, but I would’ve like to some type of “change-up” from the rom-com status quo.
With this being the third installment in the Bridge Jones franchise, Renée Zellweger and Colin Firth easily slide comfortably back into their familiar roles of Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy. Both seem to know their respective characters (intimately) and have fun time of reprising them (a bit older and wiser versions). With the swift exit of Hugh Grant’s Daniel Cleaver in the movie (presumably dead!), Maguire seems to add a new love interest for Bridget Jones, finding a suitable match in Jack Quant, played by Grey’s Anatomy alum Patrick Dempsey (McDreamy himself). Dempsey’s Jack represents the more “modern man”, designed to challenge the more pent-up and stuffy character of Firth’s Darcy and help creates the movie’s dilemma (i.e. who’s the father and who is Bridget going to choose). In terms of acting, Dempsey puts on his charm, delivering a good performance, which matches Zellweger and Firth.
The supporting players in Bridget Jones’s Baby are good bunch with plenty of recognizable faces from either previous projects or returning character from the previous Bridget Jones films. Returning to their post are Jim Broadbent and Gemma Jones as Bridget’s Parents (Colin and Pamela Jones) as well as Bridget’s old friends Sharon, Jude, and Tom (played by Sally Phillips, Shirley Henderson, and James Callis. These returning players don’t have much to do (in the movie’s grand scheme of things), but are welcomed into the fold, bringing continuity and a sort of reunion of characters to this feature. In terms of new supporting characters, the big one (and perhaps the scene-stealer) is Sarah Solemani as Bridget’s co-work and free spirit friend Miranda. Lastly, along with co-written the screenplay for the movie, actress Emma Thompson appears in the movie, playing the small supporting character role of the dry-humor gynecologist Dr. Rawlings. To me, Thompson delivers the best line in the movie “It’s like the final of the X Factor. Dial 01 if you want it to be Mark and dial 02 if you want it to be Jack” (as seen in the film’s trailer).
Bridget Jones is pregnant and doesn’t know who the father is in the new film Bridget Jones’s Baby. Director Sharon Maguire’s movie that the third installment in the franchise is a pleasant reunion to return the world of Bridget Jones and all were anxiety of finding a loving husband, which is further complicated by bearing a child. While the plot is predictable and the movie itself doesn’t really raise the bar from its franchise or the rom-com genre, but it recaptures what worked in the first movie. Given its narrative, that’s what the movie needs. Personally, it was good and fair movie. Nothing super grand or ground-breaking revelations in storytelling or cinematography, but it pleasant feature that I had a good time watching. Thus, I would recommend this movie or, at the very least, gives this film a “Rent it” tag, a perfect movie for a “date night” or “GNI” (girl’s night in). Whatever your opinion is on the movie, Bridget Jones’s Baby is one of the better belated sequels films of 2016.
3.6 Out of 5 (Recommended / Rent It)
Released On: September 16th, 2016
Reviewed On: October 12th, 2016
Bridget Jones’s Baby is rated R for language, sex references and some nudity