Five years after the end of her relationship with Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), Bridget Jones (Renée Zellwegger) finds herself celebrating her birthday alone… Again. In a effort to turn over a new leaf, Bridget and her work colleague Miranda (Sarah Solemani) head to a music festival for a bit of fun. After she hooks up with the dashing Jack (Patrick Dempsey) at the festival, and falls back into bed with the familiar Mark Darcy a few days later, Bridget finds herself pregnant, with no clue who the father could be.
12 years after her last big screen outing, Bridget Jones is back for more. This time, everyone’s favourite singleton is 43, and although she may have finally got her weight under control, her love life is as much of a mess as ever, and although there may be simple answers in real life, this wouldn’t be a Bridget Jones movie if she didn’t make a right mess of everything.
Most of the cast from the first two movies have returned for Bridget Jones’s Baby; Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Gemma Jones, Jim Broadbent, Sally Phillips, Shirley Henderson and James Callis are all back in their roles, with new additions from Patrick Dempsey as the charming but annoying Jack and Sarah Solemani as Bridget’s rather funny and fearless new friend Miranda. All of the cast do fine in their roles, but it is Emma Thompson as Bridget’s gynaecologist Dr Rawlings that is the standout in the film, with her consistently funny quips and perfect timing.
The screenplay – which is not based on a Bridget Jones book for the first time in the franchise – was written by Helen Fielding, Dan Mazer and Emma Thompson, but it struggles to make Bridget relevant 12 years after her last movie. Bridget Jones was never a character that was particularly feminist, but this time out her views on motherhood and love seem positively archaic, and her decision to keep the baby she finds herself pregnant with seems to be purely based on the fact that her obviously bonkers mother seems to think she should have given in to her biological imperative by now. The jokes, such as hey are, are really not that funny – thank god for Emma Thompson! – and the idea of throwing a cameo in from Ed Sheeran feels very out of place.
As director, Sharon Maguire never really manages to get the film moving in terms of its pace, and although Bridget has swapped her handwritten diary for an iPad, her words actually turning up on screen is erratic and jarring when it finally does happen. The performances are perfectly fine, although the comedic timing is off, for the most part, and there is a feeling of familiarity about the whole thing as Bridget still falls over, hooks up with the wrong guy and, even though she should know better, generally makes a mess of things. Also, just a point of order, there are easier ways to do paternity tests than amniocentesis.
In all, Bridget Jones’s Baby feels as though it is trying too hard to be funny, to be relatable and to be relevant. There are precious few laughs throughout the film, and the entire affair feels rather dated and backward looking. We can only hope now that Bridget has a family, she will finally do some growing up.