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Bridget Jones's Baby

Theatrical Review


Universal Pictures; 123 minutes

Director: Sharon Maguire


Written by Conor O'Donnell on September 16, 2016 




There’s something to be said about the resilience of Renée Zellweger. After a 6 year absence, it’s fitting that she returns to mainstream audiences in the comfortable albeit accident-prone shoes of Bridget Jones. She feels right at home here, and I must say, it’s nice to have her back. Bridget Jones’s Baby finds our modern woman at 43, single and wrestling with the notion that (save for her “ideal weight” and producing gig on an international news station) certain prospects in her life are further behind than ahead.

However, none of this initially phases her, and she readily owns it, consistently remarking how great she looks and feels. One can’t help but see Zellweger coming through, given her recent change in appearance two years ago, and the overblown, unnecessary scrutiny that followed. She channels this grit and determination into Jones never more so than in the film’s first act, wherein she and news anchor work buddy Miranda (played by an equally sparky Sarah Solemani, filling in as requisite rom-com bestie) head to what appears to be the most generic music festival in existence.

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The two get into your garden-variety drunk slapstick hijinks (including an overlong and wildly unfunny Ed Sheeran cameo) which culminate in Bridget sleeping with 2007’s favorite salt-n-pepper heartthrob: Patrick Dempsey. Dempsey plays dating website magnate Jack Qwant (that name – woof) with a surprising amount of dexterity. Equal parts charming and handsome, with a touch of Silicon Valley pretentiousness, he’s here not so much as a romantic foil as he is a romantic conundrum.

Post-festival rendezvous, Bridget reconnects with long lost love Mark Darcy (cue a sigh of relief at the return of Colin Firth’s effortless affability), who is on the verge of divorce from his current wife. As is typical of the franchise, things get complicated when the two also wind up in bed together, followed a few brief scenes later by a pregnancy test confirming – whoops – the titular baby. With paternity in question, things coast along in a run-of-the-mill, baby on board romantic comedy – competing fathers-to-be and preggo jokes to boot.

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I use the word “coast” quite readily, as the script is full of landmine subplots ready to derail the film at any moment, but our leads – aided by the ever-welcome presence of Emma Thompson as Bridget’s doctor (the film’s MVP, bless her heart) – manage to float on by as if willing the film to bring a smile to your face. At its best, it allows them to do what they’re more than comfortable doing. At its worst, it makes the same mistakes as last year’s The Intern – feeling like a room full of aging marketers trying desperately to appeal to that elusive white whale of millennial sensibility (Beards! Man-buns! Social media! music festivals!). A bloated storyline involving Bridget’s producing job (which she’s terrible at), pigeonholes every twenty-to-thirtysomething as a hipster, and hinges its jokes on references that are 5 years to a decade too late. (Remember Gangnam Style, or cats that look like Hitler?)

In spite of its slightly excessive runtime and a handful of millennial-pandering beats, Bridget Jones’s Baby is brought to term by the buckets of undeniable charm and charisma present in its performances, delivering an appropriate “welcome back” to one of the genre’s most reliable leading ladies.

Bridget Jones’s Baby is now in wide release.


C+







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