While it’s pleasantly agreeable to see the daftly delightful Bridget Jones once again after a long absence, the story concocted for Bridget Jones’s Baby may be more frustrating than it is entertaining for the masses and certainly inconsistent in its humor and sketchy in its romance.
The Production: 2.5/5
The Bridget Jones we meet in Sharon Maguire’s 2016 sequel Bridget Jones’s Baby may be a decade older than when we last saw her, but she seems pretty much the same scatty, bumbling English girl skittering into middle age as she was when we first met her, and that’s the problem. Life experiences should have a way of wising up most people as they get on in years, but for Bridget Jones to continue working as a movie character, we’ve got to have the same socially stumbling ragamuffin from her earlier days on view. What was fun for a girl finding her way through her 20s, however, isn’t much fun seeing her making mincemeat of her 40s, and the film is more irritating than entertaining as its two-plus hours pass somewhat numbingly by.
Now 43 and still single, Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger) seems destined to settle into, in her words, “spinsterhood” when she meets and has a lovely romantic night with a billionaire entrepreneur (Patrick Dempsey). Within a few days, she also connects at a christening with on-and-off love Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), whom she had had little contact with in the past five years. Soon afterward, Bridget realizes she’s pregnant, but her obstetrician Dr. Rawlings (Emma Thompson) isn’t able to pinpoint the exact time when conception occurred, and since Bridget isn’t sure which man is the father and refuses to risk the baby’s health by drawing out amniotic fluid, she naturally informs both of them of her impending motherhood while she attempts to sort out her feelings toward each of them while each man tries to convince her he’d be a great father to her baby.
The central conceit of the Helen Fielding, Dan Mazer and Emma Thompson script is that the two potential fathers are left dangling because Bridget refuses to submit to a test to determine paternity ahead of birth. While one might expect that’s opening the door for the two males to thrust and parry with one another to gain an edge in Bridget’s affections as she makes her mind up whether to pursue an old love or invest in a new one, there is actually only a small bit of testosterone jousting in the movie (though it seems unnecessarily cruel and selfish to not settle the question expediently. Of course, then, we’d have no movie.) Instead, the narrative jumps around to Bridget’s adventures with a new-age hipster boss (Kate O’Flynn) at the news channel where she serves as a producer (though for a news producer, she seems conveniently ignorant of a music superstar like Ed Sheeran with whom she crosses paths early-on or Patrick Dempsey’s mega-famous tech guru when they have their meet-cute: Bridget naturally falls in a mud bog trying to traverse muddy fairgrounds in high heels), her mother’s (Gemma Jones) running for office, and pop-ins from various friends from the earlier films who are now ensconced in marriage/committed relationships with children of their own. Many of the gags are obvious (Bridget’s screw-ups in the producer-director’s booth, the blatant overuse of the “f-word” which really gets monotonous, Bridget’s going into labor at naturally the most inconvenient time and the hapless trials to get her to the hospital), and the best moments are reserved for a sight gag in the early going as half of the European model contingent attend a wake for Hugh Grant’s Daniel Cleaver and later Bridget’s visits to her doctor who in the droll hands of actress-writer Emma Thompson give a lift to the whole sagging proceedings.
Renée Zellweger’s third outing as Bridget Jones is as secure as it ever was with the Texas actress adopting as always a very convincing British accent and admirably not attempting to camouflage her actual age with heavy make-up, filters, or digital touch-ups. Colin Firth returns to his stiffly awkward Mark Darcy as reserved and stone-faced as ever, clearly meant by the author and the character’s fan base as the man born for Bridget but never quite convincing us that they’d ever truly make it as a couple. Patrick Dempsey as he has done in so many films plays the rival in love with the leading lady (Enchanted, Sweet Home Alabama) with a dashing mixture of good spirits and ebullience. Sarah Solemani is in fine form as Bridget’s clueless anchor person Miranda, and Gemma Jones and Jim Broadbent are always welcome presences as Bridget’s parents. Shirley Henderson and Sally Phillips as former friends now settled in their own married lives return for brief segments, and James Callis as spin class instructor Tom and Kate O’Flynn as Bridget’s haughty young new boss Alice likewise add some spark to the enterprise.
3D Rating: NA
The 2.40:1 theatrical aspect ratio is faithfully rendered in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Sharp to a fault and very detailed in its depiction of facial features, hair, and clothes textures, the transfer also boasts strong color and believable and appealing skin tones. Contrast has been consistently applied for a sterling picture, and black levels are very nice indeed. The movie has been divided into 20 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is fairly standard issue for comedies. Dialogue has been placed in the center channel. The heavy mix of pop standards which Bridget prefers with the newer age rock sounds to modernize the movie a bit do get the surround treatment along with Craig Armstrong’s background score. Atmospheric effects do tend more toward the front channels though there is some surround activity in the wedding which brings the movie to a close.
Special Features: 3/5
Alternate Ending (3:51, HD): the one ultimately used is preferable to this one.
Deleted/Alternate Scenes (17:25, HD): nine scenes may be watched individually or in montage.
Gag Reel (2:06, HD)
Full Circle: The Making of Bridget Jones’s Baby (18:54, HD): producer Eric Fellner, director Sharon Maguire, writer/actor Emma Thompson, production designer John Paul Kelly , costume designer Steven Noble, and actors Renee Zellweger, Patrick Dempsey, Colin Firth, and Sally Phillips comment on their enthusiasm for bringing Bridget Jones back to the cinema after so long an absence.
DVD: disc enclosed in the case.
While it’s pleasantly agreeable to see the daftly delightful Bridget Jones once again after a long absence, the story concocted for Bridget Jones’s Baby may be more frustrating than it is entertaining for the masses and certainly inconsistent in its humor and sketchy in its romance. A solid cast (including three former Oscar winners) do what they can with the spotty material, and the Blu-ray release certainly puts its best foot forward in terms of video quality.