It’s hard to believe that it’s been 15 years since we first saw Renée Zellweger as the loveable, memoir-scribbling, singleton Bridget Jones, but she is indeed back. The original, ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ was an undeniably likeable affair; charmingly funny, and quintessentially British, with the big name home-grown stars to back it up. The sequel, ‘The Edge of Reason’, took most people to the edge of despair; unashamedly trying to invoke the spirit of the original by simply recreating the jokes and scenes. It was a pretty lazy sequel by any stretch, so I can be forgiven for not being too excited about this third installment.
However, I’m happy to report that ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’ is neither as terrible as the second movie, or as good as the first one, but it definitely has a purpose and a reason to exist, which for sequels these days, can generally make it “good enough”. Lessons are learnt from ‘The Edge of Reason’, and this effort very much allows itself to be its own film, rather than riding the coat tails of the original; the characters are older, and maybe a little wiser, and it is genuinely really nice to see them all again.
There’s a sense of nostalgia, which does a good job of masking the inadequacies of the plot, but I doubt fans will really mind this at all. The storyline is very one note though; the “thing” happens very early on, and from there it is really just an endless series of “who’s the daddy” questions and set-pieces. For me, it was also incredibly predictable, and if you know anything about these films you’ll probably have an idea how it will pan out right from the start. With a weighty runtime of just over two hours, it does all feel a little laboured (pun very much intended), and when it wasn’t making me laugh, I wasn’t very interested.
The cast are all great, and the returning cast members settle comfortably back into their roles, so much so that it’s hard to believe they’ve been gone for so long. The new cast members are pretty good as well, with the absolute stand-out being Emma Thompson. I could honestly watch Emma Thompson in anything, and she completely steals every scene she is a part of here. I thought Patrick Dempsey was adequate as possible new love interest, Jack, but he has a difficult job trying to compete with the characters everyone is so familiar with, and he didn’t quite nail it.
Rather fittingly, this film feels like settling down with your favourite blanket and sipping on a glass of wine after a long week at work; it is warm and comforting, but it does absolutely nothing new. It’s very safe, and this will absolutely be enough for some people, but it isn’t something which is going to leave a lasting impression. A better three-quel than it could, or perhaps should, have been, ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’ should satisfy fans, and maybe, that is all it needed to do.