Opening this weekend:
Bridget Jones’s Baby—It’s been twelve years since the film version of Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, and fifteen years since Bridget Jones's Diary. It didn’t seem like audiences were clamoring for one more movie iteration of Helen Fielding’s hapless chick-lit heroine, but maybe they were. In any case, here she is.
As our story begins, Bridget (Renée Zellweger) is celebrating her 43rd birthday alone in her flat, with a candle in a cupcake, she and her beloved Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) having long since split. Through some rather laborious contrivances, she has two one-night stands—one with a rich American online-dating mogul (Patrick Dempsey) and the other with Darcy himself—within a week of each other. So when she turns up pregnant, owing to the unreliability of her “Vegan condoms,” whichever of the nice fellows might be the baby daddy? And however will she break the news to the non-daddy, since both gents are enthusiastic at the prospect?
As this synopsis may suggest, there’s little to be said for the carpentry of the script, credited to Fielding, Dan Mazer and Emma Thompson, and the direction, by Sharon Maguire, is no more than efficient. As always, the focus is on hoisting Bridget into slapstick humiliations, which is a bit more problematic now that Zellweger is pushing fifty. She looks great, but rightly or wrongly, seeing her fall face-down in the mud has a different vibe now—less cute, more cringe-inducing—than it did when she was in her thirties.
That said, this trivial movie is full of pros, and I enjoyed them. Zellweger remains good company, and so is Firth, though it’s uncertain whether his dour, discomfited manner derives from the character’s feelings or the actor’s—it’s jarring, somehow, when he smiles. Dempsey’s role, a stereotypical platitudinous American, does him no favors, but he comfortably fulfills the requirements of a mature hunk.
The real fun is in the supporting cast. The regulars from the earlier films, like Jim Broadbent and Gemma Jones as Bridget’s parents, make mostly token appearances, but there are a few new adds that are funny. As Bridget’s ob-gyn, Emma Thompson nips her terse lines off smartly but with just the right tinge of underlying kindness, and Kate O’Flynn is amusing as Bridget’s noxious new boss. I’ll also confess that Sarah Solemani’s mischievous sidelong smirks, as Bridget’s wacky anchorwoman pal, left me with a slight crush.