Movie Review: ‘BRIDGET JONES’S BABY’ births mild entertainment

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Jared McMillan // Film Critic

BRIDGET JONES’S BABY | 122 min | R
Director: Sharon Maguire
Cast: Renée ZellwegerColin FirthGemma Jones, Jim BroadbentSally Phillips and Sarah Solemani

For every groan induced at the announcement of a remake or sequel that no one really wanted, there is always one that kind of comes out of nowhere to peak your interest. For every TRANSFORMERS installment, there is something like ROCKY, where you have such a vested interest in a main character that you welcome them openly like an old friend coming over to visit. This latter category is where BRIDGET JONES’S BABY falls into, much like Bridget herself falls into everything and anything.

The first two installments of the BRIDGET JONES saga revolved around Bridget (Renee Zellweger) finding love in both right and wrong variations: In DIARY, she started a dalliance with Daniel (Hugh Grant) before finding her true love in Mark (Colin Firth); in EDGE OF REASON, Bridget sabotages herself because she can’t handle getting what she wanted, and almost destroys her relationship with Mark. She may be a mess, but she is earnest and relatable as her thoughts wash over the audience in voiceover.

In her latest chapter, it’s been years since the events concerning Mark and Daniel. Bridget is now single again and realizes that it is time to get over Mark, who is married to someone else. Her job as producer of a news show is undergoing a new transition, and change is in the air. She marks her 43rd birthday with the realization of a mid-life crisis.

During a surprise (and awkward) visit to a music festival with her friend Miranda (Sarah Solemani), Bridget has a fling with Jack (Patrick Dempsey). A week later, during a celebration of sorts, Mark confesses to Bridget that he is getting divorced and they have a drunken fling. This of course sets up the dilemma that drives the plot; Bridget is pregnant and has no idea which one is the father!

Renée Zellweger, Patrick Dempsey and Colin Firth star in BRIDGET JONES'S BABY. Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Renée Zellweger, Patrick Dempsey and Colin Firth star in BRIDGET JONES’S BABY. Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.

It goes without saying that the plot sounds pretty derivative, an amalgam of various rom-com plot devices to help the protagonist undergo maturation and become a better person. But the plot structure has never been the reason to see a Bridget Jones flick. Our main goal is to further our relationship with Bridget, who gives us that relatability that most rom-coms miss the mark with in their endeavors. She’s not glamorous or painted as stubborn without reason, but rather a flawed individual striving for balance, while remaining unflappable in her most awkward forms.

Despite its best and lovable intentions, however, BRIDGET JONES’S BABY has a major flaw that you can’t quite put your finger on until the movie is over, which is the character development of Bridget’s suitors. The main reason we rooted for Mark in the previous movies was because he was the good, dependable guy that was Mr. Right and a foible to Daniel’s scoundrel ways.

However, this movie doesn’t have that antagonistic character to boost Mark up; Jack is incredibly suave and sure and all-in, which leaves Mark, someone the audience has been trained to believe as Bridget’s soulmate, looking like a wet blanket. Jack has nothing but positivity about Bridget and her situation most of the movie, which casts a negative light on his counterpart. Mark is no longer a loveable grump, but now a morose curmudgeon in the audience’s view. It doesn’t help that their relationship had already failed, leaving everything to lean in Jack’s favor so much that it kills the tension of the paternal reveal.

Much like Bridget Jones herself, BRIDGET JONES’S BABY may have its flaws, but still remains charming and entertaining. Everyone involved is effortless in their efforts, capped off with Renee Zellweger coming back to a role that she kills every outing, with humor and grace. It’s a comforting rom-com, as it puts Zellweger’s clumsy heroine in the midst of unrequited adulthood, something we all can relate to in life.

BRIDGET JONES’S BABY opens nationwide on Friday, September 16.

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.