Saturday 14 May 2022

Movie Review: Bridget Jones's Baby (2016)

A romantic comedy, Bridget Jones's Baby carries all the blotches of an unnecessary second sequel trying to squeeze money out of a series well past its best-by date.

In London, Bridget Jones (Renée Zellweger) celebrates her 43rd birthday on her own, still despondent that she cannot find her one true love. To cheer her up, work colleague Miranda (Sarah Solemani) drags Bridget to a music festival, where she has a one-night stand with online dating tycoon Jack Qwant (Patrick Dempsey). Meanwhile, Bridget twice bumps into the elusive love of her life Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), including at the funeral of her other ex-lover Daniel Cleaver. 

Mark's marriage is in trouble, and soon he and Bridget share a passionate night. A few weeks later she finds herself pregnant but does not know who the father is. Meanwhile Bridget's television studio workplace is also in chaos, as a new generation of young managers take over and introduce radical changes.

Renée Zellweger returns to the screen after a six year hiatus, but both the actress (47 years old) and the character (43 years old) are too old for the frivolous material. In the 2001 original, Bridget was in her early thirties and easily excused for stumbling her way through adult responsibilities. In Bridget Jones's Baby, what was once fresh and cute is stale and near insufferable, Bridget in middle age still operating with the physical coordination of a child, the emotional wisdom of an adolescent, and the professional incompetence of a newbie.

The screenplay by Helen Fielding, Dan Mazer, and Emma Thompson is too lazy to find new ideas and leans heavily on overly-familiar character mannerisms. Director Sharon Maguire stretches the flimsy who-is-the-father premise to two tired hours, both Colin Firth (stiff, bored, and boring) and Patrick Dempsey (flat, lost, and disengaged) sleepwalking their way through juvenile buck roles.

Thompson the writer cannot help the material, but at least Thompson the actress is a bright presence as Bridget's seen-it-all doctor. Otherwise, the best moments occur in the television studio where Jones works, with Sarah Solemani as on-air presenter Miranda adding a much-needed spike of sass. Her contributions are welcome, but far from sufficient to relieve the tedium as Bridget Jones's Baby labours to ineptitude.

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