Stars: Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Gemma Jones
Directed by: Sharon Maguire
Opening Date: Friday September 16th, 2016
Age is a funny thing. Its causes are not unanimously agreed upon but its effects are certain to occur in all of our lives at some point. As the years fly by, our bodies, minds and society’s undergo certain shifts. As bad as that might sound, it doesn’t necessarily have to be. With time comes wisdom, experience, and (hopefully) respect. A few of us will even age like a fine wine—or in Bridget Jones’s case, like a vampire.
Twelve years is a long time both in a person’s lifetime and to spend from a universally loved romantic comedy franchise. From its humble beginnings as a newspaper column, the character of Bridget Jones has become a spirit animal for female independency and romanticism for over two decades now. Yet this newest film isn’t derivative from the successful novelized version of Helen Fielding’s famous columns, and it shows at times. Bridget’s mannerisms were perfectly captured once again, but her spinster misadventures didn’t exactly follow suit.
That’s not intended as a jab at our now 43-year-old British doll. Bridget Jones’s Baby is a comedic triumph, easily being the most mature and old school hilarious of the iterations yet, but it isn’t what I’d call a triumph of a story at certain times.
Hearing her narration of yet another diary entry reunites us with the character. Yes, she’s single. And yes, she’s still just as career driven, but unlike before, she’s a little less contented with it. With mounting pressure from family, friends and coworkers to either (a) settle down; (b) have a bit of innocent fun, Bridget (Renée Zellweger) finds herself torn. After agreeing to attend a music festival, where inconsequential sexuality flourishes, Bridget meets and later sleeps with Internet entrepreneurial mogul, Jack Qwant (Patrick Dempsey). Shortly thereafter, Bridget finds herself reacquainting with long time on-off love interest and lawyer extraordinaire, Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), who she, of course, also sleeps with.
After becoming a bit plumper in the stomach, and realizing she used long expired, holistic condoms during her sexual encounters, she is forced to deal with a geriatric pregnancy and the uncertainty of whose child she is actually carrying. In a desperate attempt to discover whom the father of her child is, all the while balancing a takeover by Millennials at her news station, and juggling her mum’s (Gemma Jones) judgment, and outdated political campaign, Bridget undergoes a midlife crisis.
I left the predominantly female filled auditorium with the impression that everyone’s performances were spot on. Bridget’s profane, dry wit, Darcy’s unfettering logic and literalism, and Qwant’s enthusiasm and charm were portrayed exceptionally. The cityscapes of London these characters inhabited were documented in a simple, yet effective manner and the score that hilariously complimented moments in the film added to the overall immersion. That’s all fine and good, but I can’t say those moments our main protagonists found themselves in were of equal or surpassing quality though.
Although they did invoke a slew of awwws, laughs and gasps from the audience for the most part, there were certain things that, much unlike an ultrasound transducer, rubbed me the wrong way. I would like to start off by saying that the intergenerational (X versus Millennial) conflict was handled well, but that the “millennial” was misrepresented in a kind of demeaning light, which isn’t surprising coming from three screenwriters who are, um, older. I understand that it was for humor and contrasts sake, but I believed it painted an ugly portrait of the incapability, irresponsibility and stupidity of young people entering the modern workforce. Generations as a concept are an invented, generalized concept to begin with.
There were a few plot holes that similarly, were attempts at perpetuating the laughs, but out of consideration for not spoiling the movie, I’ll state them in a vague sense. Most bank machines operate on a 24-hour basis, and home phones have not been rendered completely obscured from homes. Did you get anything from that? No? Good.
I thought that scenes involving news production undermined Bridget as a person of tremendous news producing stature. She consistently made a series of unbelievable rookie mistakes that were very contrary to her experienced character. I get they were once again designed for the yucks, I get it, but things transpired on an all too coincidental and grossly unprofessional basis. I found myself laughing, yet also shaking my head in dumbfounded confusion simultaneously at times too.
The ending was pretty predictable based on the events of the story, but I think it couldn’t really be helped. HOWEVER, the final scene had me shaking my head the most. I think die-hard fans would be willing to slow clap off the franchise with this last film, especially since comedic franchises usually end with the much older cast members giving it one last hoorah, but in this films case, I was left questioning whether they planned on further draining the life blood out of the franchise just a little more. It was just a bad scene to begin with, but what it possibly symbolized made it even more bothersome.
Okay, so the film has errors, but I still found myself very much enjoying the film. Not in a “it’s so bad its good” sense, either. Bridget and her compatriots are such lovable characters, and the film attempts to tackle some pretty serious themes too, which I found pretty admirable. It was a kind of smart, presenting criticisms of societal conceptions on single motherhood, modernity and political correctness. So, much how Mark likes Bridget very much just as she is, despite the smoking, drinking and verbal diarrhea, I too like the film very much, just the way it is; as a wanton goddess of humour. I give Bridget Jones’s Baby a 7 out of 10.