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Film Review: Bridget Jones's Baby

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★★★★

After more than a decade away from our screens, Bridget Jones is back and still as joyous and funny as ever in the latest film in the franchise, Bridget Jones's Baby.

The film sees Renée Zellweger reprise her Oscar-nominated role as the hapless but ever-endearing Bridget Jones, who at 43, is once again stuck in the rut of spinsterhood after parting ways with her former flame Mark Darcy (Colin Firth). Compelled by her younger, trendier friend Miranda (Sarah Solemani), Bridget seeks a burst of adventure in her life - which she finds, for one night at least, with the dashing American Jack Qwant (Patrick Dempsey).

A few days later, she finds herself re-enamoured with Mark at a family christening and with not one, but two things leading to another, soon discovers that she is pregnant. The ambiguous conception of the eponymous baby later leads to several hysterical events as Bridget struggles to determine who the father is.

Following the franchise's first, fairly underwhelming sequel, The Edge of Reason, and Helen Fielding's controversially received third novel, Mad About The Boy, you'd be forgiven for feeling slightly dubious about this latest film. Thankfully however, the film quickly shreds it's much-perceived money-grabbing motives and gets back into the swing of things as we know and love them; making Bridget's return more of a victorious comeback than the wheeled out cash machine that many believed it would be.

As well as marking the big-screen return for Bridget, the film also sees the on-screen return of Renée Zellweger, who has been absent from the movie-making business for the past six years. Despite the tabloid furore surrounding her older, slightly different appearance, Zellweger does a good job at easing back into the character.

Even though she doesn't look exactly like the Bridget of 2001, or (if you listen carefully) sound as naturally, effortlessly English as 2001 Bridget, she still feels like the character that we have loved and related to for the past 20 years. Though she has matured slightly, she is still as hapless and prone to cringe-worthy moments as ever.

One of the best elements of the film is the strenuous complimentary chemistry between the two (possible) fathers-to-be, Mark and Jack. Patrick Dempsey's characterisation of the upbeat, confident American charmer contrasts to great effect with Colin Firth's stiff, upper middle class air of sullen exasperation.

Though their struggles with one another are nowhere near as comically physical as those that Mark shared with Hugh Grant's Daniel Cleaver, the near-childish tension between them is still played to great effect. The absence of Hugh Grant is rather underwhelmingly addressed in the film, but thanks to Dempsey's chemistry with Zellweger and Firth, his presence isn't particularly missed.

The story, though somewhat predictable, is also very engaging, thanks to pepperings of comic bursts that prove very funny indeed. While the central trio are very much in command of the film at large, there are still moments in which supporting characters steal the scene. Emma Thompson's dubious doctor proves to be a very amusing presence, and - despite sharing a casting credit with the likes of Jim Broadbent, Celia Imrie, Sally Phillips and Shirley Henderson - a random Italian waiter also steals a couple of scenes.

The humour isn't consistently on point however, with some gags falling flatter than others. Throw-away quips about "gaybies", "Gangnam" and a running euphemism about puppets/penises quickly fade into obscurity. But for as many jokes that underwhelm, there is also a vast amount of laughs to be had - particularly in the film's climax.

The film does also suffer slightly from certain overdone rom-com tropes, such as nostalgic montages and pop song choices that more than blatantly echo the mood of a scene. In it's attempts to modernise Bridget and show the advances since the last film, the film does sometimes appear a little desperate in it's attempt to appear cool by throwing in oddly placed elements like an Ed Sheeran cameo and the aforementioned use of the song 'Gangnam Style'.

But despite these few niggling problems, Bridget Jones's Baby remains a very fun watch that will appease fans of Bridget and the rom-com genre alike. 

Bridget Jones's Baby is out now, distributed by Universal Pictures.

 




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