It feels good to welcome back Bridget Jones—anyone who grew up reading the book and watching the first film will surely be pleased by the third installment and how well the beloved character is treated.
It doesn’t quite hit the highs of Bridget Jones’s Diary—everything was just right about that first movie—but what Bridget Jones’s Baby offers is a consistently funny, albeit mellow, journey for Bridget.
If you think about it, Bridget Jones is now 43, so gone are the hilariously stupid mistakes that made Diary a gem, such as the book launch speech, with the amazing cameo by Salman Rushdie; or emotionally gripping arcs, such as Daniel Cleaver’s infidelity toilet scene. Bridget is now a respected news producer and she won’t take crap from any one—any man—just like that. So the writers Helen Fielding, Dan Mazer, and Emma Thompson are left with just a small opening for the film’s signature British slapstick humor, and in Baby, that gap comes in the form of the generation divide.
But even millennial jokes are hardly exploited here; their presumed takeover in the workplace barely registered as a threat. Maybe the film’s problem is that it’s become too respectful, too politically correct, that when Bridget’s weight suddenly bubbled up as the joke in a particular scene, I could only embrace it—and so did the audience; the theater roared with laughter.
The writers seemed to have only scratched the surface, careful not to provoke or fall back into stereotypes, effectively shielding Bridget from feminist criticism. She doesn’t go the far end of feminism either—there are no politics here. The slapstick comedy largely falls into the hands of her new friend and colleague, the hilarious Miranda (Sarah Solemani). Bridget’s three original friends only make cameo appearances, and even that shift, the sadness in how the dynamics in that friendship has changed, is barely given attention.
Bridget Jones is, after all, also about the guys. Patrick Dempsey’s character is written like a Prince Charming caricature; he could have been annoying, but the handsome devil gets away with it—the sighs I kept hearing from the audience mean he sure is charming. Colin Firth has gotten his Mark Darcy down pat and here, he cranks up the cranky tito factor even more.
It’s Emma Thompson as Dr. Rawling, who almost steals the show. She has little screen time, but she relishes each second, releasing zingers and just the slightest indignance with her arched eyebrows and pursed lips.
Renee Zellweger is criticized as being dead in the eyes by The Hollywood Reporter; I get that, but again, I look at this whole film as an affectionate nod to a mellower, grown-up—but not dark—Bridget1.
Bridget Jones’s Baby opens in Manila on September 14.
- I’m glad she hasn’t ended up a widower in this universe as in the second book. ↩