Renée Zellweger is back for her third film outing as Helen Fielding’s irrepressible Bridget Jones and, fortunately, Bridget Jones’s Baby proves she is as funny and endearing as ever.
That’s a huge relief, given the time that’s elapsed since the original 2001 film and its weaker 2004 sequel. Of course, much has changed since then. Bridget is older: there are 43 candles on the birthday cake provided by her obliging colleagues on tacky TV news channel Hard News. The times are different, too: she now has bearded ironic hipsters, apps and hashtags to deal with at work.
And she’s lost the two great loves of her life: Colin Firth’s uptight Mark Darcy is married to someone else and Hugh Grant’s rakish Daniel Cleaver is dead. But Zellweger’s Bridget remains the same hopelessly dizzy dating disaster.
She does, however, have a new predicament with which to wrestle in her inimitably cack-handed fashion: pregnancy. As we’ve known ever since the film’s title was announced, Bridget Jones is up the duff. If the prospect of becoming a geriatric mother weren’t daunting enough, she doesn’t know who’s the daddy.
The prospective father is a 50/50 toss-up between Patrick Dempsey’s billionaire American Jack, following a bonk in a music festival yurt, and Firth’s Darcy, thanks to the briefest of rebound flings a few days later.
It’s a slender plot, even for a rom-com, but director Sharon Maguire, returning to the helm after sitting out the sequel, makes the most of the gags in a screenplay co-written by Helen Fielding, Dan Mazer and Emma Thompson.
The rivalry between the smooth Yank and ill-at-ease Englishman produces the odd snigger, with Dempsey’s Jack slowly losing his cool while Firth’s stuffed shirt of a Darcy looks as though he’s been boiled in starch from the start. Thompson, too, provides her share of giggles as Bridget’s droll gynaecologist. And Sarah Solemani supplies rude chuckles as a brazenly sassy newsreader.
But it’s Zellweger’s Bridget who delivers the film’s biggest, heartiest, joyfully good-natured guffaws.
Certificate 15. Runtime 123 mins. Director Sharon Maguire
Bridget Jones’s Baby is released on 16 September.