Friday, September 16, 2016

BRIDGET JONES Bounces Back With A Baby-Daddy Mystery

Opening today at a multiplex near you:


(Dir. Sharon Maguire, 2016)

Bridget Jones is back! And I’m glad to see she looks like herself.

Two years ago, Renée Zellweger made tabloid headlines by appearing at a charity event looking unrecognizable - click on her IMDb profile page to see for yourself as it oddly hasn’t been updated.

Many speculated that Zellweger had gone under the knife, but I'm not going to go for gossipy speculation. I
m just reporting that whatever the case she somehow looks like her signature British singleton character again now, only in her 40s, and she beautifully bounces back into the third chapter of the series which comes 12 years after the disappointing second installment, BRIDGET JONES: THE EDGE OF REASON.

Here, Zellweger, whose first film this is in six years, is re-united with Sharon Maquire, who directed the first one in the series, BRIDGET JONES DIARY back in ’01, and armed with a screenplay full of zingers written by 
Bridget Jones creator Helen Fielding, long-time Sacha Baron Cohen-collaborator Dan Mazer, and Emma Thompson, who also appears as Bridget’s gynecologist, Dr. Rawlings, stealing every scene she’s in.

These days, Ms. Jones is a top TV news producer, who now keeps her diary on her iPad, and, most importantly, is still single.

Her new BFF Miranda (a very cheeky Sarah Solemani), who hosts the program “Hard News” that Bridget produces, drags her friend to the Glastonbury music festival in hopes of getting her laid and indeed she does as she beds Patrick Dempsey (Dr. McDreamy I'm told he's called) as the dashing Jack Qwanta billionaire who she meets at a music festival after falling “ass over tit” (her words) into the mud.

Not long after this one-night stand, Bridget runs into her old flame, Mark Darcy (Colin Firth reprising his role of the stiff barrister) at the funeral of another old flame, Daniel Cleaver, (that’s right, they killed off Hugh Grant’s character), who died in a plane crash, “going down in the bush,” which, of course, is joked about.

Bridget runs into Mark again at a christening, where he tells her that he’s getting a divorce and one thing leads to another. Bridget later discovers that's she pregnant, and doesn't know whether Jack or Mark is the father. Don’t worry I won’t spoil who it is.

Of course, this leads to one farcical scene after another in which Bridget strings the poor guys along until she finally tells them the she can only be 50% sure of the identity of her baby’s father until the birth. The two fellows try to be civil about it, but the strains of competition for Bridget’s love can be felt as Mark investigates Jack’s hugely successful dating website and is pissed when he finds that his match-making algorithm determines him to be a bad match for Bridget, while Jack scores as a nearly perfect one.

The BRIDGET JONES series is something of an anomaly. I mean, it’s the only female-centric rom com series I know of, so I welcome this latest entry as an actually decent follow-up from a genre that normally doesn’t do follow-ups.

Zellweger and Co. bring back the charm and the wit from the original for the most part, but at just over 2 hours the movie is overstuffed. It dwells too much on its sitcom-ish middle section in which Bridget schemes to find out who the father when it probably should of fast-forwarded to telling them. The subplot dealing with Bridget’s job, in which she has to deal with new management made up of millennials with “ironic beards,” and a weird, pretentious younger boss played to the comic hilt by Kate O'Flynn, is fine but just stops short of being really funny. You have to wait for the mad dash to the hospital scene for that.

But overall, the film amuses greatly, has a wonderful plucky performance by Zellweger, good work by her would-be suitors Firth, and Dempsey, 
and it’s nice to see Bridget’s parents, again portrayed by Jim Broadbent and Gemma Jones, who also have a subplot (too many subplots!) involving Bridget’s mum running for her church parish council. Sally Phillips, Celia Imrie, and Shirley Henderson also nicely return to the roles they played in the previous films.

I bet BRIDGET JONES’S BABY will please long-time Bridget Jones fans but be brushed away by most everyone else who’ll just see it as a throwaway threequel rom com (as if those come along every day).

As a guy who doesn’t consider himself a big rom com guy, I still find the character appealing and relatable, and I was happy to have one more go around with her. This really ought to be the conclusion to the trilogy though. Here’s hoping that they leave it alone after this and let the gal go off over the “happily ever after” horizon with whoever it is that’s her kid’s dad. See? I told you I wouldn’t spoil who it is, but I bet you can guess.

More later…

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