Romantic triangle sets up sturdy comedy in ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’
Bridget Jones’s Baby
Starring Renèe Zellwegger, Colin Firth & Patrick Dempsey
Directed by Sharon Maguire
In theaters Sept. 16, 2016
“How in the hell did I end up here again?” Bridget Jones asks herself as she sits on the couch of her London flat watching the pitiful flicker of a birthday candle in a cupcake remind her that she’s celebrating yet another birthday—number 43—alone.
We might ask the same question: How did Renèe Zellwegger end up in the same place, in the same role, one she hasn’t played in 12 years (since Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason), as a character that she launched back in 2001 in a movie originally made from a Helen Felding novel kinda-sorta based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice?
Zellwegger received an Oscar nomination for Bridget Jones’s Diary, a delightfully frothy British rom-com, in the title role that captured viewers’ hearts—a plucky, single, working-class lass struggling with her career, her weight, her love life and her tendencies to over-indulge in booze and cigarettes. She chronicled it all in her diary.
Now, 15 years down the road, Bridget has moved up—and somewhat on. She’s a producer for a TV news show; she’s managed to corral her figure into something she’s proud to show off. She’s stopped smoking and cut down on the booze. These days she writes on a laptop. But she’s still single, and now more than ever she’s feeling the ticking of her biological clock.
“I’m beginning to think I’ve passed my sexual sell-by date,” she tells one of her co-workers. She refers to her ovaries as “the last barren husks in London.”
But that’s about to change, as you likely surmised by the title of the movie.
Yes, Bridget gets pregnant. But the big question is, who’s the daddy?
Is it her longtime—nearly lifelong—crush, London barrister Mark Darcy (Colin Firth)? Or is it the new American dating-website guru Jack Qwant (Patrick Dempsey)? As fate would have it, Bridget had “intimate encounters” with them both, just weeks apart. As the old saying goes, when it rains, it pours.
That romantic triangle sets up the sturdy structure of the movie’s comedy, and there are plenty of laughs as Bridget at first tries to keep both Darcy and Qwant in the dark about each other, then resigns herself to telling them both. Original Diary director Sharon Maguire also sets up some hilarious gaffes and snafus in Bridget’s workplace as her personal life begins to intrude—once again—on her career.
It’s nice to have the original Diary gang—or most of them—back, including many of the supporting players (like Bridget’s parents and pals). Zellwegger and Firth pick up where they left off, just as their characters do, after more than a decade apart; the absence of Hugh Grant’s caddish Daniel Cleaver, Bridget’s other love from the previous two films, is explained early in the movie, with a dry twist of British wit. Dempsey slides right into his role like a sweet slice of blue-eyed American pie.
And Emma Thompson, who was also one of the screenwriters, shines as a bright comedic charm as Bridget’s no-nonsense OB/GYN. There’s a very cool cameo from Grammy-winning British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran.
So how did Bridget end up here again? The important thing is the little bundle of joy she leaves with two hours later, and the laughter—and the surprises—along the way.
—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine