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Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby (2016) movie poster Bridget Jones's Baby

Theatrical Release: September 16, 2016 / Running Time: 124 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Sharon Maguire / Writers: Helen Fielding (screenplay, characters and story); Dan Mazer, Emma Thompson (screenplay)

Cast: Renée Zellweger (Bridget Jones), Colin Firth (Mark Darcy), Patrick Dempsey (Jack Qwant), Jim Broadbent (Dad), Gemma Jones (Mum), Emma Thompson (Dr. Rawlings), Sally Phillips (Sharon), James Callis (Tom), Sarah Solemani (Miranda), Celia Imrie (Una Alconbury), Shirley Henderson (Jude), Jessica Hynes (Magda), Ed Sheeran (Himself)


The world was not clamoring for a third Bridget Jones movie, but it's getting one all the same and by extension the first new Renée Zellweger
vehicle since the 2006-filmed, 2010-released horror movie Case 39. Though she looks a bit different than when you last saw her, Zellweger reprises the role that yielded her first Oscar nomination and turned her into something of a movie star.

Unlike its two predecessors, which were released in 2001 and 2004, Bridget Jones's Baby is not based on a Helen Fielding novel. Instead, Fielding has contributed to an original screenplay. Her script collaborators on the last two, including the independently accomplished Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral), have not returned for this threequel. Taking their place, however, are Curtis veteran Emma Thompson and longtime Sacha Baron Cohen scribe Dan Mazer.

The film opens with Bridget celebrating her 43rd birthday in a typical Bridget Jones way: alone, with a glass of wine in hand. For some reason (none is needed), she lip-syncs to House of Pain's "Jump Around" for the opening credits. Through narration and some journal entries that have finally gone digital (though inexplicably and annoyingly with zeros standing in for o's), Bridget explains how she returned to singleton status, since when we last saw her she was quite happy and in love with the erudite Mark Darcy (Colin Firth). He's since gotten married to someone else, while his chief rival for Bridget's affections, womanizing telejournalist Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) is swiftly killed off in a plane accident. His funeral is played for laughs, which seems like a cruel fate for the series' most charismatic pillar.

Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger) is all by herself (again) celebrating her 43rd birthday with a cupcake in "Bridget Jones's Baby."

Bridget continues to work in television "news", behind the cameras as a producer. Her friend and co-worker, on-air anchor Miranda (Sarah Solemani), convinces Bridget to attend a glamping festival, which leads to a one-night stand with Jack (Patrick Dempsey), a handsome American she barely gets to know. Days later, Bridget once again comes to know Mark Darcy in the biblical sense, after learning he is on the verge of divorce and still holds feelings for her.

In case the title didn't make it perfectly clear, Bridget emerges from these two nearby encounters with a positive pregnancy test and no clarity regarding the baby's paternity. She tells both Jack and Mark the baby is theirs and each responds in an encouraging fashion, ready to raise the child with her. Jack seems like the more stable suitor: his online dating algorithms have made him a "billionaire" and he's sweet and romantic. But, of course, there is history between Bridget and Mark, most of it quite special and swoony.

Bridget Jones's Baby explores the love triangle without making the entire film about that. There are Bridget's visits to the obstetrician (played by Thompson). Meanwhile, at work, Bridget and her colleagues are feeling pressure from a trend-driven new manager (Kate O'Flynn) and her entourage of ironically bearded hipsters. Much of the old Bridget Jones gang returns here and there, including foul-mouthed friends and Bridget's somewhat out-of-touch parents (Gemma Jones and Jim Broadbent).

Ready to give birth, Bridget (Renée Zellweger) gets hand-delivered by her baby's two possible fathers: Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) and Jack Qwant (Patrick Dempsey).

A statute of limitations is often honored when it comes to comedy sequels. Some recent films (Dumb and Dumber To, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, The Best Man Holiday) have disregarding the wisdom of striking while the iron is still hot. Joining them, Bridget Jones's Baby is better than it sounds on paper and less desperate and behind-the-times as it may seem with Zellweger, whom age and plastic surgery have seemingly made obsolete to the industry, front and center.
Dempsey's "Grey's Anatomy"-fueled renaissance seems to have faded and one wonders what Firth is doing back here, having won an Oscar for Best Picture winner The King's Speech since last time out. How is it that Hugh Grant, who's only recently returned from his own Zellwegerian hiatus, opted out and not Firth?

Baby is not terribly inferior to the two installments that preceded it. Sharon Maguire is back at the helm, having little to show for the 15 years since she directed the original movie. The film sticks to the same playbook with thickly-applied pop songs, off-color humor, and the occasional pratfall. It's not as fresh and funny as it was back in the early Noughties, but it is still preferable to a good amount of contemporary comedies. You can predict the ending from a mile away, no matter how much the film tries to fake you out. At least it resists the urge to turn the unvictorious suitor into a bastard of Daniel Cleaver proportions.

By the way, probably inconsequential final scene spoiler alert: Daniel Cleaver is not really dead. That news, coupled with the fact that this movie isn't the untimely trainwreck you feared, might just have you leaving with a little smile on your face.

Related Reviews:
Renee Zellweger: ChicagoCase 39Empire Records | Colin Firth: The King's SpeechArthur NewmanA Single ManThen She Found Me
Patrick Dempsey: EnchantedGrey's Anatomy: Season One | Emma Thompson: Saving Mr. BanksBurntBrideshead RevisitedAn Education
Now in Theaters: Florence Foster JenkinsSnowdenSullyWar DogsThe Blair Witch
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2Four Weddings and a FuneralFather of the Bride & Father of the Bride Part II
Written by Dan Mazer: BrünoI Give It a Year

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Reviewed September 16, 2016.

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