Film & Television

Movie Review: ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’ Delivers as Expected

Bridget Jones’s Baby is the third in a series based on the bestselling novels of Helen Fielding. If you’re a fan, you’ll be pleased to find most of your favorite characters have returned. From wonderful pros Gemma Jones and Jim Broadbent as Mum and Dad, to Sally Phillips and Shirley Henderson as the loyal gal pals, to Mr. (Mark) Darcy, himself, the always attractive if a bit formal here Colin Firth. Noticeably absent is Hugh Grant, who turned down the film after he and the writers couldn’t find common ground.  His character, the shameless womanizer Daniel, is presumed dead after his plane went missing “in the bush” (“How appropriate,” quips one of the hundreds of women at his memorial.) But even without Grant (you can see him as another good-natured philanderer in Florence Foster Jenkins if you find yourself missing him), you’ll find yourself smiling. I felt exactly as I did six months ago when I saw My Big Fat Greek Wedding II. You can do worse than spend a couple of hours with old friends from earlier films.

New characters are also introduced, including a very funny Emma Thomson as the aforementioned OB/GYN. I wish she had even more scenes, although she does get credit as one of the movie’s screenwriters. Sarah Solemani is newscaster (and Bridget’s new BFF) Miranda, and, most importantly, television’s McDreamy, Patrick Dempsey, is American billionaire and would-be father Jack.

Of course, a Bridget Jones movie without Renée Zellweger in the title role would be unthinkable. I’m happy to report that she is as clumsy and endearing as ever. And, after much press about her plastic surgery a few years ago, the actress looks natural and pretty and utterly appropriate for her age. Being Bridget, she gets into scrapes from the moment the new film begins, and her ongoing narration (only sometimes adhering back to the original diary device) adds a funny, determined edge to the character. You can almost see her stamping her foot. She will succeed at her glamorous television job, whether or not she mistakes an important guest’s chauffeur for the man himself, or accidentally keeps her mic on during a personal phone call, unknowingly feeding the on-air talent rather off-color commentary. She will make the most of her London life, even if all her friends are too tied up with their children to take her out for her birthday. She will be a wonderful mother, whether there’s a father (or two) in the picture or not. Happy or hapless, it’s hard not to root for Bridget.

It’s been 15 years since Bridget Jones’s Diary and 12 years since Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. That’s quite a long time between sequels. So one has to wonder, does Bridget Jones’s Baby deliver? It depends.

Naturally, I love the fact that it stars a woman (and a woman over 40, no less!) and was directed by a woman (Sharon Maguire). But, I wouldn’t say that it’s a great movie or even much of a step forward for feminists. Bridget is still a bit too flakey to be believable in her “high-powered media” job. One would hope that in the past decade she might have grown up a little and become more competent. Her new chum, newscaster Miranda, is fun after hours but doesn’t even ask her own questions when the camera’s rolling (hence the mix-up I mentioned earlier). And, there’s a complicated plot device about a feminist refugee punk rock group (based on Russia’s Pussy Riot, apparently) that can only be referred to as demeaning. Darcy defends them, but doesn’t like their music. They bare their breasts on-air to thank him. Then, they spawn a protest march that prevents Bridget, her two baby daddies, her parents and friends from reaching the hospital. It’s an odd choice here. There is very much a woman-power vibe to Bridget’s pregnancy (“You know, you don’t need them,” her doctor tells her after both men are too squeamish to stay in the delivery room). But, choosing a feminist cause as recurring comic relief feels like a cheap shot. “Why do women need more rights?” Bridget’s mother asks when the protest is explained to her. To paraphrase renowned writer/director Joss Whedon, “Because people keep asking that question.”

But, before I spend another minute on my soapbox, I have to confess that I can’t remember smiling quite so much at a movie lately, and even laughing out loud. And, let’s face it, there’s value (and power) in that too.

Bridget Jones (with or without her baby) is a little too silly to be the poster girl for feminism. But, she remains a fairly delightful person to spend time with at the movies.

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  • Sally Bahner September 27, 2016 at 9:35 am

    Why is it — whether it’s in television or movies — when they can’t figure out what else to do with a female character, they make her pregnant? What about strong child-free women?