Back for her third turn as Helen Fielding’s irrepressible Bridget Jones, Renée Zellweger proves as funny and endearing as ever. Of course, much has changed since the original 2001 film and its weaker 2004 sequel.
Bridget is older: there are 43 candles on the birthday cake provided by her obliging colleagues on tacky TV news channel Hard News. 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 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. And 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, courtesy of the briefest of rebound flings a few days later.
It’s a slender plot, 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 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 biggest, heartiest, most joyfully good-natured guffaws.