Of all the “it’s been over 10 years, did we really need a sequel?” films of 2016, this one is certainly the best.
“Bridget Jones’s Baby” (the grammar there hurts my brain) stars Renée Zellweger in the title role in the third installment of the franchise, and the first since 2004. This time around, Jones gets pregnant and either Colin Firth (also reprising his role) or Patrick Dempsey (making his first theatrical appearance since 2011’s “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”) could be the father. Sharon Maguire, who directed the original “Bridget Jones” film, returns to helm here.
The first “Bridget Jones” was innocent and fluffy enough but ultimately too hollow for me, and I tried to watch the second film as homework to prepare for this but despite my love of Hugh Grant I couldn’t even finish it. So that partnered with an awful trailer really had my bar for “Baby” set low; which may be why it surprised me.
What is impressive about this film is its dedication to be more than a fluffy, feel good comedy aimed at middle age women. It has f-bombs and raunch (albeit tamer than most R-rated comedies), as to be expected from a screenwriter of “Borat.”
Zellwegger is solid in the title role, however to me her character has never really come off as real; she seems like a caricature of a woman who can’t get her life together. And speaking of people who don’t act like a real human, Patrick Dempsey’s character is…something else. He’s an American who runs an online dating site but talks like Rob Lowe’s character from “Parks and Rec” (in fragmented. Sentences. And. All about. Negative. Energy.) Hugh Grant he is not, and Grant’s charming gentleman way is missed here. Firth’s character has always been intentionally awkward and at times it’s funny, at others it’s grating.
All three actors have solid chemistry together and occasional moments of hilarity, although you never get a real feel for why they would every truly interact or like one another were they not connected by a baby. Emma Thompson (who also co-wrote the script) steals every scene she is in playing Bridget’s gynecologist, and is so fun and charming that, as my friend so eloquently put, “I just really want to get drinks with Emma Thompson.”
The film’s largest problem is its pacing. It clocks in 123 minutes and you feel every second of it. The first half of the film is mostly exposition, reintroducing us to Bridget and then acquainting us with side characters. Not much happens and if the first 45 minutes were wiped out altogether we would have a much tighter, coherent film.
“Bridget Jones’s Baby” is the type of movie where if you saw the trailer and wanted to see it, then you will love it despite its overly quirky characters and monotonous pacing. If you just want a fluffy, feel-good film that features a fun as hell performance from Emma Thompson (really can’t understate how much she elevates this) then this should also do the trick.
In a year where “Zoolander” (2001) and “Independence Day” (1996) both got long-delayed sequels, this one actually has a story worth telling and wasn’t made simply as a cashgrab, and the fact that it is a relatively enjoyable film at that is commendable enough.
Critics Rating: 6/10