Lukewarm Excitement For “Bridget Jones's Baby” and Zellweger’s Silver Screen Return

By Scott Kurland

Film: Bridget Jones’s Baby
Starring: Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Gemma Jones, Emma Thompson and Jim Broadbent
Rated R
Director: Sharon Maguire

Sometimes, actors disappear. I don’t mean they die or vanish. They just step out of the spotlight for a while and shift their focus elsewhere. Usually, they film many movies consecutively and studios stagger their release, so you don't realize they've left. Ryan Gosling did this, as did Anne Hathaway. Actors are people too, and if they don’t take time off every now and then, they’ll go nuts. I bring this up because the last time I saw  Renee Zellweger in a film, it was “Case 39” seven years ago . Zellweger has stayed off the radar, until now. This week’s film is the third “Bridget Jones” film in what I’m hoping is just a trilogy.  Let’s find out if “Bridget Jones’s Baby" is any good shall we?

It’s been fifteen years since  “Bridget Jones’s Diary”  and Miss Jones (Renee Zellweger) is still a hot mess. She’s become a respected senior news producer, but her love life is non-existent. To make things worse, her friends all have lives now, so Bridget is more lonely than ever. She and Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) have been estranged for ten years and Bridget has made peace with becoming a lonely spinster, or so she thought. After a one night stand with a billionaire author named Jack (Patrick Dempsey), Bridget discovers she is pregnant. The only problem is the baby might not be Jack's as Bridget also had a relapse fling with Mark. With the question of paternity hanging in the air, Bridget, Mark and Jack come together as one strange family unit in order to help Bridget have this baby.

There’s a lot of jokes about middle age women having babies past 40 and dying in this film…and it’s really dark. I loved the first film “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” That movie is an A-worthy film by Kurland On Film’s standards. The second one “Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason” is one of the worst films ever and I’d give that an F. “Bridget Jones’s Baby” is somewhere in the middle. Although it’s way better than “Edge of Reason” it doesn’t hold a candle to “Diary”. This film also does the one thing I hate in trilogy films. In the third film, a lot of movies get lazy and flashback to scenes from the first movie as if to say: "Hey, remember how much you loved the first one?" It’s almost like a cheap ploy to get our approval.

For me, the best part of this film are the performances from the three leads. Zellweger is still perfect as Jones. I don’t think the character ever left her. She’s still lovable and ditzy, but she has grown into a strong woman like the one we saw at the end of the first one. Zellweger makes you remember why you want to be a part of Bridget’s life; why we stick around to see her fumble and fall. Like Mark Darcy, we love Bridget, albeit she's a complete disaster. We love being there for her and we love cringing at her when she sticks both feet in her mouth. 

Colin Firth is the second reason the “Bridget Jones” movies work. He’s charming and, well, just charming. It’s what draws you to Mark Darcy. He’s a frosty bugger, but boy do we love him. Firth gives a wonderful monologue at the end of the film which, if it doesn't leave you weeping tears of joy, you’re dead on the  inside. Firth also does well with his new suitor challenge, played by Patrick Dempsey. Dempsey is no Hugh Grant, but he does bring a new dynamic to the film. It’s the first time Bridget has had another suitor as good as Mark. However, this is where the film starts to become a mess. Halfway through, they try and make him selfish yet charming. You can’t make a character both a good guy and creep, it doesn’t work. Dempsey does well with what he’s given, but it’s just such an odd writing choice because we know she should be with Mark.

Besides Dempsey’s character turns, I have other huge unavoidable problems with “Bridget Jones’s Baby”. This film is not funny. There were parts I should have been laughing at, but I didn’t. There were scenes I should have been applauding for their brilliant word play and clever delivery, but they were never fully formed. What I thought was clever was how they explained the absence of Hugh Grant. It was down right brilliant. Then they had to end the movie by going back on everything they set in motion. I hate it when films do that. It’s a total cop out. If they were going to make another “Bridget Jones” movie, they should have done it ten years ago in 2006. Too much time has passed. The only thing that worked was that we remember how great Zellweger and Firth are. We already knew that, we just needed to watch the first film to remember that.

“Bridget Jones’s Baby” is not a terrible film. It’s watchable but, in all honesty, you can wait to see it until HBO or another premium channel shows it. The writing is too bland, the plot is so trying at times you just want this love triangle to end. Do yourself a favor and don’t rush out the door to see “Bridget Jones’s Baby”.

scott kurlandComment