Movie Review – Bridget Jones’s Baby

by Paul Preston
The Movie Guys

When Matthew McConaughey stopped making romantic comedies, it was great news because McConaughey’s project roster suddenly got a lot more likable. Gone was the likes of Fool’s Gold, Failure to Launch and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and in came True Detective, Dallas Buyers Club and Interstellar. What I didn’t expect, however, was that EVERYONE stopped making romantic comedies.

McConaugheyUsually, you can get around twelve romantic comedies a year (pre-McConaughey-dump year 2010 saw fourteen!), but last year (post True Detective) there were none – ZERO. No major theatrical releases, although films like Hugh Grant’s The Rewrite slunk onto on-demand TV. It’s a mystery as to why they don’t make more. Take a cue from Blumhouse and the horror genre – crank out low budget movies and if they hit, the reward is astronomical. Example, after bombs like Zoolander No.2, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Paramount is hiding in the bathtub, crying, in the dark, alone, because their bad idea to greenlight a remake of Ben-Hur has only made $53 Million worldwide. With a budget of $100 Million and marketing costs that no doubt push that much higher, this is another bust for the studio.

Let’s take TWELVE of Jason Blum’s most recent horror/thriller genre movies – The Visit, Sinister 2, The Gift, The Gallows, Unfriended, The Lazarus Effect, Ouija, The Purge: Anarchy, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones,Insidious: Chapter 2, The Purge and Paranormal Activity 4. Total budget combined doesn’t even come close toBen-Hur’s – $66 Million. Total box office gross – $1.1 Billion. Studios, this model can work with romantic comedies, and people want to see them, you’re just addicted to blockbusters, even though most of them tank. It’s like you’re in an abusive relationship. If nothing else, making movies about romantic relationships will at least help you metaphorically. So calm down with the special effects – we’re not demanding them, we’re rarely impressed by them, and you’re losing money. It might be time to re-invest in characters and story.

Bridget Jones's BabyIt may have taken nine months, but Universal brings us the first romantic comedy of 2016, and what better way to welcome back the genre than with one of the great leading characters in romantic comedy history as Reneé Zellweger returns as Bridget Jones in Bridget Jones’s Baby. When we last left Bridget, Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) was proposing, so why does this film begin with Bridget celebrating her 43rd birthday alone in her London flat? Don’t worry, that’s all laid out in adult, complicated fashion in a deft screenplay by (of all people) Emma Thompson (oh, that’s right, she has a writing Oscar), with Borat and Brüno co-writer Dan Mazer and originalBridget Jones’s Diary author Helen Fielding. It’s interesting to see Fielding credited here, because she wrote a third Bridget Jones book (Mad About the Boy) where she killed off Mark Darcy! Apparently no one was happy with that, so they started from scratch for a third cinematic storyline where Mark is alive and well (or, as well as his sour puss can be) and embroiled in a love triangle.

The triangle begins when Daniel Cleaver is deemed out of the picture (to sweet and funny results), leaving Mark married to his female equivalent, Camilla. Bridget is mired in her forties and her old friends are mired in kids, leaving her flailing, socially, The news anchor at her new job, Miranda (a very funny Sarah Solemani) suggests they get out and party as if Bridget were in her twenties again, leading her to cute-meet Jack (Patrick Dempsey), an internet billionaire. Through only-Bridget-Jones-movies-can-pull-them-off situations, Bridget ends up pregnant, but is the baby Jack’s? Or Mark’s? Hijinks ensue.

Bridget Jones's Baby

And some previously unseen hijinks, too. This film has one of those, rush-the-expectant-mother-to-the-hospital scenes that is laced with physical comedy not seen since (and one-upping) Darcy and Cleaver duking it out on the streets of London. Also new to Bridget’s world is her grappling with the changing workplace. She’s moved from book publishing to TV news and has to deal with bearded hipsters and her advancing age perhaps not fitting in. The film balances well the melancholy that would accompany such a life realization and the humor we come to expect from Bridget not always making the best decisions.

Zellweger’s take on Bridget this time around is on point, probably not to the heights where she received a much-deserved Oscar nomination for the first film, but she re-captures effortlessly the sweetness and vulnerability that makes her so damn likeable in any situation. Zellweger and the filmmaker’s willingness to allow Bridget to be uncool wins on every level, and although lost in dating quagmires, Jones has won in getting her body in shape, making for more gags once her pregnancy starts showing. And for a character so sweet, I love how rated R these movies are! They never flinch to have the characters speak like adults, and I believe a lack of raunch is another sign of flexing their adulthood.

Bridget Jones's BabyMark and Jack vie for Bridget’s affection, neither looking for escape from potential fatherhood and they both treat her excellently. This take on her suitors further complicates matters of the heart for Bridget without a Cleaver-esque bad boy in the mix – another smooth move by the writers. Sharon Maguire from Bridget Jones’s Diary returns as director, no doubt further helping Zellweger’s comfortability in a lead role (she hasn’t taken one on, really, in about seven years). And I don’t know why I feel the need to say this, but I’ll address it – anyone worrying that Bridget, post-Zellweger plastic surgery, won’t look like Bridget…let that go. She’s Bridget, our Bridget, the only Bridget and there’s nothing distracting about it. In fact, I don’t look forward to someone else playing Bridget in the proposed Broadway musical. #notmybridget

So if you’ve been pulverized by big-budget, noisy summer movies, summer is behind us and you should get out to see this. To my earlier point, Bridget Jones movies tend to make seven times their budget at the box office. Be a part of it.

Directed by: Sharon Maguire
Release Date: September 16, 2016
Run Time: 122 Minutes
Country: UK/USA
Rated: R
Distributor: Universal Pictures

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