FILM REVIEW – BRIDGET JONES’S BABY. With Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Emma Thompson, Sarah Solemani. Written by Helen Fielding and Dan Mazer and Emma Thompson. Directed by Sharon Maguire. Rated R for language, sex references and some nudity. 122 minutes.
Remakes, sequels, reboots. So much of what Hollywood churns out these days is based on what we’ve already seen… or at least heard of. BRIDGET JONES’S BABY is the third entry in a series about a single woman in England originally created by author Helen Fielding. Given that the first two movies were released in 2001 and 2004, we’ve all gotten older.
The film opens with Bridget (Renée Zellweger) turning 43. She’s still alone–everyone’s bailed on her birthday–but at least she has a successful career going as producer of an evening newscast. Her best friend Miranda (Sarah Solemani) decides she needs to go out and live it up. She ends up at a music festival where she has a romp with Jack (Patrick Dempsey), the wealthy American founder of a dating website. Then she’s at a christening where she runs into her old flame Mark (Colin Firth), and they end up in bed together as well.
All this exposition is to set up the main storyline: Bridget is pregnant and doesn’t know who the father is. Her obstetrician (Emma Thompson, who shares a screenplay credit) is unable to help Bridget determine the father–at least not with a procedure that could endanger the pregnancy–and so the farce is in play. First it involves not letting either man know about the other, and then–when they inevitably find out–plays out the rest of the pregnancy with her coping with two dads. Indeed, at a birthing class the teacher assumes the two men are the couple and that Bridget is their surrogate.
It’s not exactly sophisticated humor, nor can one really call this a romantic comedy, because the focus is on Bridget with the two men basically there to service the plot. This isn’t so much of a complaint as an observation. There are certainly too many movies where the women are mere plot devices, but a successful romantic comedy requires the two be treated somewhat equally. Instead, the two men here are eye candy. For many of his fans Firth will forever be Mr. D’Arcy from “Pride and Prejudice” while Dempsey remains “Dr. McDreamy” from “Grey’s Anatomy.” The result is less a date night movie than one better suited for “girl’s night out.”
It’s liight and fluffy with less of an edge than the earlier films. Bridget is somewhat more self-assured than she had been, which makes sense. Someone who’s awkward in her twenties might be amusing but in her forties one would have hoped she finally grew up. So there’s some slapstick (Bridget falls in the mud) and silliness (Bridget conspires to get a DNA sample from Jack), but nothing you’re likely to take home with you. Indeed, the cleverest thing here is how they deal with the absence of Hugh Grant, one of the male leads in the earlier two films.
For those who enjoyed those earlier films, and for those happy to see Renée Zellweger return to the screen after a six year absence, “Bridget Jones’s Baby” is light, undemanding entertainment.•••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books. His most recent book is Shh! It’s a Secret: a novel about Aliens, Hollywood and the Bartender’s Guide. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.