The more things change, the more they stay the same. So at the start of Bridget Jones’s Baby, we meet the title character, Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger), home alone in her London flat. It’s her 43th birthday, and she’s dancing around in her pyjamas, wine glass in hand, as she tries to vent the frustration of her perpetual singledom.
Fortunately though, for Bridget and the audience, some things have changed. This helps sequel #2 to feel like its own entity as opposed to a trying-too-hard rehash of the original 2001 romantic comedy. “Forced and tired” was pretty much the complaint made of 2004 sequel The Edge of Reason, for the record.
In Bridget Jones’s Baby, change is emphasised. Right from the start, you receive a strong sense that the world has transformed substantially over the past 15 years. Bridget now taps out her journal entries on her iPad instead of using pen and paper, landline calls have given way to FaceTime, and workplace villains have morphed from perverted old men to ruthless, hyper-groomed hipster millennials.
Much more importantly, the characters in this beloved Chick Lit universe have been allowed to mature. Physically and otherwise. Bridget may still put her foot in it (literally at times), but she comes across as considerably more in control of her life, confident and on top of her job.
This “maturing” applies across the board, and is the film’s saving grace. You see, on paper, the premise for Bridget Jones’s Baby sounds like a tepid sitcom. Early on, our heroine finds herself pregnant. The complication is that she’s unsure who the father is: her emotionally aloof ex, British barrister Mark Darcy (Colin Firth); or Patrick Dempsey’s charming American entrepreneur Jack McDreamy… uh, sorry, Qwant.
At this point, at least if you’ve watched the other Bridget Jones films, you may be bracing for jealous fist fights and/or pregnancy-related slapstick as the unconventional love triangle plays out. However, there is no real place for that kind of silliness this time around, just as there is no place for Hugh Grant’s smooth-tongued bad boy Daniel Cleaver. All the characters behave like adults conscious of their responsibilities. Knocked Up-style immaturity does not get a chance to feature, which is actually quite refreshing.
One has to wonder how much of this more subdued approach is the influence of Emma Thompson. Thompson not only joins Bridget Jones creator Helen Fielding on the film’s writing team, but also delivers a highlight performance as Bridget’s straight-talking doctor.
Speaking of performances, there’s unsurprisingly no real acting stretch from any of the cast. The star trio, in particular, are all stepping into familiar roles. This isn’t a negative; simply an observation. In fact, Zellweger, Firth and Dempsey’s relaxed, likeable presence onscreen mirrors the effect that the film has overall.
Bridget Jones’s Baby feels like slipping into your favourite pyjamas for a night on the couch. It’s not the most exciting thing, but sometimes you just want the soul-soothing comfort of a little fluff and sweetness – and the vicarious, maybe slightly tearful, pleasure of watching appealing characters get their happy ending after everything.
Last Updated: September 15, 2016