The Hippo


May 26, 2020








Bridget Jones’s Baby

Bridget Jones’s Baby (R)
Film Reviews by Amy Diaz

By Amy Diaz

 Everybody’s favorite late 1990s/early 2000s singleton finds herself in the family way in Bridget Jones’s Baby, an unnecessary but not completely terrible revisiting of the character.

Bridget (Renee Zellweger) may have ended up engaged to Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) at the end of 2003’s Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (at least, that’s what Wikipedia says; I’ve blocked that movie out) but they never made it down the aisle. Instead, Bridget is a single 43-year-old who works as a television producer and finds herself eating a cupcake alone on her birthday. All of her longtime buddies — Shazzer (Sally Phillips), Jude (Shirley Henderson) and Tom (James Callis) — are now parents with less time for drinking and talking about her romantic possibilities. Luckily, Bridget has made a few new childless friends at work, friends such as Miranda (Sarah Solemani), the anchor who tricks Bridget into a weekend getaway at a music festival. Bridget was more hoping for a spa weekend, but Miranda tells her that music festivals are the place to go to get your groove on, specifically to get your groove on with a handsome stranger. Which even Bridget acknowledges is something she could use.
Luckily, she doesn’t have to look far for such a man. She has a classic meet-cute with Jack (Patrick Dempsey), a handsome American whom she ends up in bed with the day they meet. When she wakes up, he’s gone so she rushes off — not realizing he was just getting coffee.
Only a week later, she is at a baptism for Jude’s baby where she sees Mark. Booze happens, they happen and once again Bridget rushes off in the morning, leaving a note for him that rather maturely explains why their night together can’t turn into more.
But then, after several weeks of spin class don’t help her slide into skinny jeans, Bridget figures out that she’s pregnant. What she can’t figure out, and what even her very practical OB Dr. Rawlings (Emma Thompson) can’t tell her for certain, is which man fathered the baby. She does tell the two potential dads that she’s expecting but not about their uncertain paternity claims. Both Jack and Mark are happy and both seem interested in pursuing a relationship with her. But Bridget isn’t sure which, if either, man she wants to end up with or how to tell them that they might not be the daddy.
Gaah, this movie is so infuriating. It is not as awful as I was certain it was going to be, but it goes off the rails in too many places to be as good as it could have been. 
First, let’s take the Bridget-Darcy relationship. The original book and movie being loosely based on Pride and Prejudice (and, in the ultimate winky in-joke, Firth having been the most Mr. Darcy of all Mr. Darcys in the BBC production of the Jane Austen book), the Bridget Jones universe Mr. Darcy is essentially a good guy, one who quickly comes to like Bridget very much (just as she is, if you recall), but who isn’t great at big emotional declarations or even emotions. Here, we’re given a picture of a relationship that basically fell apart because Mr. Darcy worked all the time. Eh, OK but then we’re told that in the four or so years between the Darcy/Bridget break-up and the start of this movie, he has married and is now separating from another woman. This doesn’t really make sense within the world of this movie — he doesn’t have time for the girl he’s crazy about but he does have time for this other rando — much less within the wider Bridget universe, where Darcy was already married and divorced. It actually would have made more sense to make the work a symptom of fear about marriage. Or even that they broke up over jealousy — Darcy’s first wife cheated on him with the Hugh Grant character who played the other point in the romantic triangle in the first two movies. It would fit with the cautious, emotionally walled-off Darcy. The movie’s version of their relationship and breakup just makes him seem like a stunted jerk, which is not a good look on your idealized romantic hero.
Then there’s the movie’s insistence on goofy Bridget pratfalls, even as it also insists (and demonstrates) her pretty above average level of competence at her job, holding her own with her new millennial overlords. Why does she still fall with the regularity of a toddler who learned to walk yesterday? Why do we have to keep pretending that she doesn’t understand public speaking? The way the movie allows her to grow in some areas but keeps her a cartoon in others is maddeningly inconsistent.
Because Bridget Jones does grow up. The movie actually does give us — at times — a Bridget who is both recognizably Bridget Jones but also a mature person who isn’t stuck in the amber of her early 30s. She seems to have a better outlook on men, not expecting everything to be True Love and not letting them mess with her the way Daniel (the Grant character) did in the first movie. She is actually good at her job — except when the movie needs her not to be — and her relationships with her friends are well-drawn. 
In fact, the way that all the women in this movie, women who appear to range in age from Bridget’s late-20-something boss to her 50-something doctor, relate to each other is really interesting. The movie isn’t a “married versus single” or “mom versus no-children” fight, even as it acknowledges the changes that come with marriage or with children. Youth doesn’t beat age and age doesn’t always win out over youth. The characters instead get to be multilayered people who change and grow over time and have different priorities at different points of their lives, and yet are still able to relate to each other.Though the movie doesn’t do this as much as I’d like, Bridget and her longtime friends are, sometimes, shown being comfortable in their own skin. Which is great! And aggravating! Because how cool would it have been if the movie had embraced this idea of comfort with age even more?
Don’t get me wrong, I love the Jane Austen comfort food that is this series’ origin and I don’t need my Bridget Jones to be a gritty look at reality. But this movie, which occasionally dips a toe in smart ideas, could have been truly fun, funny and still romantic if it had embraced the ideas of maturity, change and characters learning about themselves and not needed to fall back on the rom-com structure of meet-cute (or re-meet-cute) /false conflict/resolution. This movie could have even been revolutionary and found a way to be a rom-com featuring a married Bridget and Mark. A couple’s romance doesn’t end at their wedding but that is as far as most rom-coms will ever go. Crack that puzzle and you’ve got the potential for a hen-lit blockbuster.
Bridget Jones’s Baby has left me with conflicted feelings and a few script ideas (call me, director Sharon Maguire!). There is so much more it could have done but I’ll give it credit for the little bits of humor (specifically, any scene with Emma Thompson) and smart commentary that it does work in. B-
Rated R for language, sex references and some nudity. Directed by Sharon Maguire with a screenplay by Helen Fielding and Dan Mazer and Emma Thompson, Bridget Jones’s Baby is two hours and two minutes long and distributed by Universal Pictures.

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