With so long between franchise entries, can Bridget Jones still hit the mark; or is this one relationship you’ll want to leave in the past?
Have you noticed there is a real lack of romantic comedy films now? Yeah, I remember when there seemed to be one released every other week, but because so many ended up being the same sort of thing, people stopped going to see them. And despite the fact I’m not a fan of the genre, it is a shame because it did mean less films aimed at woman being released. That’s not to say rom-coms don’t get released any more, I actually enjoyed How To Be Single which was released earlier in the year, but there is a need for a good one. Can Bridget Jones’s Baby be that good one?
Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger, Chicago) is starting to get on with single life now she is single. As part of that single life, she ends up having sex at a music festival with tycoon Jack (Patrick Dempsey, Grey’s Anatomy) and then at a Christening she ends up having even more sex with her ex Mark (Colin Firth, The King’s Speech). This seems to be fine until she becomes pregnant and isn’t sure who is the father.
So this film starts off on a bad foot by doing something I absolutely loathe, breaking up a relationship in between movies without much of an explanation for it. At the end of the second film, Edge of Reason, Bridget and Mark are engaged and look likely to get married. This would have been a fine enough concept for the next film, as I’m sure you could mine plenty of comedic possibilities out of Bridget getting married. However maybe because it would be too similar to Bridesmaids and all of its knock offs, they went with Bridget having a baby. Fair enough, but to break up a relationship that we all liked is an insult to the people who were invested in it from the first two films.
Luckily, the character of Bridget is still as amusing as ever. She’s sort of an originator, in that a lot of the clumsy yet charming rom-com protagonists can trace their roots all the way back to her. Yet despite there being a million different Zooey Deschanel films since the first Bridget Jones being released, she still feels real and rather original. Her clumsiness isn’t a replacement for character, she is one in her own right and with her hitting her mid-life crisis at the start of the film, without it really being mentioned as a mid-life crisis which is rather refreshing, she’s a lot like many other people at her own age. I mean, as I write this my mum is getting drunk in Benidorm, so I can believe someone of her age getting drunk and then having sex in a yurt. It’s a rather modern stage of life and the film does well with it.
In terms of the humor, it is rather mixed. I’ll stick with the positives though for now as I’m sort of on a roll with them. Firstly, Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility) is in this film as Dr. Rowlings, Bridget’s obstetrician. And as you’d expect, she is absolutely wonderful. Every line she gets is killer and is hilarious, meaning that you want to see more of her. It’s a shame then that she doesn’t get the most screen time, but then again it might have been overkill to have her around all the time. And after getting through Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, it’s nice to see a film that knows how to use a cameo. I won’t spoil it and I’m not going to pretend it’s laugh out loud funny, but it is how to do a cameo if you want to do one in your film.
But unfortunately, there’s a lot of humour which plain doesn’t work. Because of the character of Bridget, a lot of the comedy is cringe humour where she gets into incredibly awkward and embarrassing situations where everything gets worse by the second. And I know that this is down to personal tastes, but I hate this. When you empathize with a character, you want to see them do well and it’s not funny to see them get tortured. Bad people you don’t like, yes, you want to see them in situations where they are embarrassed, but not our plucky hero. That’s when you reach for the skip button. Also while it has definitely been toned down, there is still some bad slapstick in here.
And it does the crime that almost every rom-com does. It’s is incredibly predictable. Pretty much every single beat of this story is obvious from the kick off, to what will happen in the end to who the baby’s father is. There’s even the standard every character has to mope around for a bit because of a misunderstanding that could easily be cleared up if they would all bother to talk to each other. I’m on record as heavily dislking this trope and with this one being another cliché in this film that I simply can’t stand, it does take the movie down in my estimations.
There is plenty to like about Bridget Jones’s Baby and I’m sure people who enjoy the character and the franchise will find a lot to love about it. However it’s not the rom-com that is needed. When you had the fun How To Be Single breaking a lot of the tropes that made the genre tired just a few months ago, you need to be on perfect form to make sure we’ll ignore when you re-use those tropes. And unfortunately, this film isn’t and does the same old thing every other movie in this genre has, making it feel a bit like you’ve seen this film before. Only there’s a baby.