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Film review: Bridget Jones’s Baby ****

By Alexia Evripidou

It has been 15 years since Bridget Jones first staggered onto our screens with wine in hand and impassioned renditions of Celine Dion’s All By Myself. Now, the bumbling Londoner is back. Following a 12-year hiatus since the second installment (Bridget Jones: the Edge of Reason), the eagerly awaited return of London’s rom-com queen does not disappoint. In truth, viewers will already know whether or not they’ll enjoy this third chapter before even watching it; fans of this popular chick flick have waited a long time for the latest installment and thankfully, it is actually worth the wait.

Bridget Jones’s Baby is a fun, sweet and cheeky sequel which moves Bridget’s story forward while remaining true to its form. Filled with familiar audacious humour, old characters and yet another wonderful karaoke jukebox soundtrack, it picks up nicely where it left off and although times may have changed, Bridget remains much the same; older but not necessarily wiser, at least in the arena of love.

New resolutions, ballsy sexual banter, comical cliff hangers, love labyrinths, work misconduct and much general inappropriateness are all also pleasantly back in buckets. The continuing adventures of the hapless Bridget now see her in her early 40s and once again very much single following a breakup with the love of her life; the awkward but dashing Mark Darcy (Colin Firth).

Much and little have changed both for Bridget (Renee Zellweger) and the film. Her closest friends now have children and her best gay friend is about to adopt one with his partner. Still, in typical Bridget fashion, it’s upwards and onwards for the single and childless Bridget, who prides herself on having finally reached her ideal weight and achieved a flourishing career as a top news producer. Despite having to manage her old school values in a new age media company with millennial superiors, Bridget maintains her ‘pre-social media addiction’ ideals and as ever haphazardly soldiers on, bringing hysterical and cringeworthy moments to her work environment as well as to her complex personal life.

The film opens on Bridget’s birthday with her predictably cradling a glass of wine on her couch in the same tiny London apartment: “the last barren husk in London” as Bridget declares, writing in her diary and blurting her heart out to All By Myself. Suddenly a change of mind hears her shout profanities loudly while jumping off the couch and changing the song to House of Pain’s upbeat Jump Around. She proceeds to do as the song commands, downing her wine energetically while singing along, indicating the film will proceed by with the familiar themes of the other two films, with new twists. “I can’t keep going back and making the same mistakes, when I can make new ones,” Bridget says and indeed she brings us a plethora of new perfectly imperfect mishaps to enjoy.

The film, like its predecessors, focuses on the central love triangle and this time Bridget is fought over by two very eligible knights in suits with healthy bank balances: welcome back Mark and hello Jack (ER’s Patrick Dempsey, who fills the shoes of Bridget’s ex love interest Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant,) very satisfyingly). The lovelorn Jones discovers she is pregnant and no-one knows who the baby-daddy is as she progresses through pregnancy juggling two men.
So who’s the daddy? Well, like the perfectly cast Emma Thompson (Bridget’s doctor) says, “it’s like the X factor, dial zero one if you want it to be Jack and zero two if you want it to be Mark” and so the ping pong of ‘who do you want to win Bridget’s heart’ game continues until the end.

Filled with christenings, festivals, weddings, funerals and parties against a beautiful London backdrop of popular landmarks, the film is comfortingly familiar, offering fulfilling closures on many of the so called ‘self orchestrated cliff hangers’ that Bridget has created, while still managing to be unpredictably and thoroughly enjoyable; one for the collection!

Bridget Jones’s Baby does at times drag, it would have benefited by being 20 minutes shorter. However, with so many nicely crafted characters (Emma Thompson is in her comic element), excellent one liners, hysterical scenarios and witty humour, it can be forgiven, especially as I imagine that this will potentially be the final installment in the series, unless they decide to bring out Bridget Jones the Singleton Granny. Watch this space…

Bridget Jones’s Baby ****
DIRECTED BY Sharon Maguire
STARRING Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey
UK/USA 2016 122 mins

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