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Bridget Jones's Baby - Review

Bridget Jones's Baby

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

A MARKED improvement on the wretched sequel but far inferior to the charming original, Bridget Jones’s Baby is tailor-made to offer a girls’ night out of undemanding escapism.

Whether that makes for a good movie remains debatable but like Mamma Mia and The Holiday before it, this sacrifices any complexity, rationale or logic to offer up a good time. That it succeeds at all, probably has more to do with the spirited nature of the performances and an audience sense of nostalgia.

The story this time finds Bridget (once more played by Renee Zellweger) lamenting a 40th birthday spent alone, given that former love of her life Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) is now married, while ex-lover Daniel Cleaver (an absent Hugh Grant) is dead.

Spurred on by a mischievous work colleague (Sarah Solemani), Bridget attends a music festival where she inadvertently crosses paths with charming American billionaire Jack (Patrick Dempsey), with whom she subsequently enjoys a drunken night of passion. But their liaison looks set to be brief.

Rather, weeks later, while attending a friend’s christening, Bridget unwisely hooks back up with Darcy (now conveniently separated from his wife), only to call a halt to anything more serious in an attempt to avoid repeating the same mistakes of her past.

But when she finds herself pregnant and unsure of which man is the father, Bridget must try to find out the truth while deciding whether who she really loves.

Co-written by Emma Thompson, Helen Fielding and Dan Lazer, Bridget Jones’s Baby certainly puts forward an intriguing dilemma for its hapless heroine but frequently sabotages itself from becoming anything more meaningful than lightweight fluff.

Hence, anytime that the film approaches an emotional high designed to pull viewers one way and another, the film seems to lose the courage of its convictions and gives Bridget – and viewers – an easy pass. An example of this stems from the story arc of Dempsey’s character: a man who has made his fortune on the belief that love can be found in online algorithms, who finds himself falling for Bridget in spite of himself, but whose decision-making seems far more driven by the machinations of the plot than anything flesh and blood.

There are several moments when the plot barely hangs together… its desire to put its leading lady in awkward situations threatening to become tiresome.

In spite of this, Zellweger acquits herself well and throws herself into the more slapstick elements with abandon. She also works hard to keep Bridget the right side of endearing, even if her much debated facial features do prove distracting.

Firth, on the other hand, plays the stiff upper lipped Darcy a little too straight early on and almost looks embarrassed to be a part of things. He does warm up, belatedly, but his character is another casualty of the thinly conceived and ultra contrived plot.

The supporting plays are wildly uneven, veering from the fun Solemani, as one of Bridget’s newsroom friends, to the downright annoying (Kate O’Flynn’s hideous newsroom boss, who is more of a caricature than a character). And while the likes of Neil Pearson (as another newsroom colleague) and Jim Broadbent (returning as Bridget’s dad) feel under-used, it’s not hard to guess that as one of the three co-writers, Emma Thompson rewards herself with some of the best lines as Bridget’s doctor, while her own story arc is hopelessly predictable.

Of the humour, some of it lands nicely, especially when reverting back to the type that made Bridget so endearing in the first place in 2011’s Bridget Jones’ Diary, but at other times, some of the gags feel crass, while others are over-milked.

Overall, how much you enjoy Bridget Jones’s Baby depends largely on how forgiving you are of the film’s lazier elements and its excesses. For there’s just enough charm to compensate for the film’s more obvious shortcomings, particularly if you’re looking for nothing more simple than a frivolous night out capable of delivering a few knowing chuckles.

In a year that has also seen the return of past favourite characters such as Rocky Balboa and Jason Bourne [for the guys], as well as Dory [for the kids], the return of Bridget gives the girls someone to become re-acquainted with.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 2hrs 2mins
UK Release Date: September 16, 2016