How often do you see a chick-flick release these days? How often do you see a promoted studio film made for 35 million these days? Well, BRIDGET JONES’S BABY is kicking it old school in these and many other ways, and to great, often hilarious success. We all know guys are largely going to avoid this movie in droves, which is too bad. It’s funny, sweet, and fun, and nary a gun, explosion, or car crash in site.
12 years after the catastrophically awful BRIDGET JONES sequel BRIDGET JONES: THE AGE OF REASON, Renee Zellweger and crew, including many of her friends and certainly her Mark Darcy, Colin Firth, erase all the bad blood of the second installment, and remind filmgoers and the studio powers-that-be there’s still room for a funny, sweet, and delightful film that is not only helmed, but fronted and co-written by women over 40. With 46 year old star Zellweger, the director of the blockbuster original BRIDGET JONES’S DIARY Sharon Maguire, and co-screenwriter and co-star Emma Thompson onboard, if there’s the remotest chance BRIDGET JONES’S BABY is worthy of support, it is incumbent upon all those who want a less ageist, and more diverse cinematic landscape to do so.
Gratefully, it’s even better than a gaggle of chicks gathering for a fun night could possibly imagine. I brought two girlfriends who spent most of the movie laughing. Though it suffers some moments of great unbelievability, it’s truly funny, without the smut, grit, or lowbrow humor that, for better or worse, has become part of the more recent female-fronted fare. Since the pocketbook power of female moviegoers continues to prove films made for, or focusing on them might be a good idea, especially in the nearly non-existent mid-budgeted film category, BRIDGET JONES’S BABY comes at a great time. It may prove to be a call to arms to producers and beancounters all over Hollywood. Women have movie cash and they aren’t afraid to use it, provided a movie is funny and entertaining.
Everything about the original film seems anachronistic and out of date. At this point, is there even a “chic-lit” section at the local Barnes and Noble? Are there even any local Barnes and Noble stores to check? Fortunately, Bridget has grown with the times. The first scene proves as much, when, instead of wallowing in self-pity to the strains of All By Myself, she switches the music to House of Pain’s Jump Around, and dances in her jammies. Attagirl, Bridge. Still silly and unabashed after all these years. That sets the tone for viewers to root for her forward movement, however beset by bad choices in need of correction. Bridget is now a successful producer with new thirty-something bestie Miranda (Sarah Solemani). Her pals from former movies are present, but nearly MIA, with the early nights and playdate exhaustion inherent to child rearing. When Bridget goes ‘glamping’ with Miranda at a music festival, she meets dashing too-good-to-be-true billionaire Jack (Patrick Dempsey). A near instantaneous connection leads to a one night stand, only to be quickly followed by a reminiscence of the physical kind with her ex Darcy (Colin Firth).
The ultimate 40-something baby-loving singleton fantasy ensues when she turns up pregnant with not just one supremely eligible and moneyed potential Daddy, but two. Thank goodness the film is full of laugh-out-loud moments, some of the best of which involve Emma Thompson as Bridget’s OB-GYN, or the scenes between Zellweger, Firth and Dempsey. Look too closely at the storyline, and you’ll be pummeled with practical questions and find yourself calling out convenient plot devices aplenty. Gone is any real concern about the dangers of pregnancy over 40, missing is the level of transparency essential to the multi-parent multi-partner situation posited in this movie, as is concern about pregnancy in the workplace leading to unlawful dismissal, among many other things. Credulity is stretched repeatedly as exampled by Bridget’s supposedly genuinely accidental appearance in Jack’s tent shortly after their meeting at the music festival, (although kudos to the set decorator and production designer for tricking it out like the tent in Raiders of the Lost Arc on acid.) Jack is way too perfect, even being generous for cinema’s sake. Hugh Grant’s Daniel Cleaver offered a real cad audiences could love to hate, (and the explanation of his whereabouts is one of the funniest moments in the film), but one assumes Bridget has finally moved on from her attraction to things truly bad for her. In fact, she focuses mostly on the baby itself, regardless of the men swirling around her with coffees and flowers.
BRIDGET JONES’S BABY is really a 124 minute trip into a fantasy world, where considering reality is counterproductive. However, those willing or wanting to suspend disbelief and enjoy watching an independent woman, however awkward, basically breeze through a 40-something pregnancy with two gorgeous, wealthy suitors in her wake, will enjoy the time spent immensely.