Bridget Jones’s Baby

 

                OK, let’s go ahead and get this out of the way:  Renee Zellwegger does not look like herself any more.  Every once in a while, when she smiles, you catch a glimpse of her younger (pre-plastic-surgery) self, but none of that really matters, unless you’re trying really hard to establish that this is the third installment of the Bridget Jones series, and insist on connectivity to the previous two. Actually, this one stands on its own quite well.

                Bridget Jones (Zellwegger) is a television show Director, which means her job is extraordinarily busy, and requires her to be sharp and on point, not only as the lady with the headphones, running the show behind the scenes, but also because she is “feeding” the pretty young “host” with substantive questions for her interviews.  It’s a pretty satisfying job, actually.  It’s just that Bridget’s personal life has kind of reduced to next to nothing.  One love lost, another now married to someone else; so she spends her 43rd birthday by herself in her apartment, blowing out her one candle on a cupcake in a self-imposed pity party.  Very sad.

                But she does have at least one gal-friend, who encourages her to come to a concert in an outdoor venue, where everybody stays in little tents, and there are plenty of opportunities for sudden changes in social situation.  There, Bridget meets Jack (Patrick Dempsey), a successful American entrepreneur.  (Remember the old controversy about Renee playing the Brit, accompanied by complaints from British actors that there were plenty of them to choose from?  As if British actors didn’t routinely play American accents.)

                Bridget then happens, by chance, to meet an old flame, Mark (Colin Firth), whom she thought was married but now claims to be separated.  He says he still thinks about her.  (Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.)  Their sudden hook-up now sets up the basic tension of the plot, which is that Bridget Jones is pregnant, and has suddenly gone from having no men in her life to having two who are constantly vying for her attention--- because she doesn’t know which one is the father, and she is kind of enjoying their not-that-friendly competition for her affection.

                Don’t they have DNA tests that would have solved this question without the drama?  Ah, but that would foil the plot, I suppose, which depends on some silly contrivances, pratfall humor, and a little bit of wry social commentary.  (It seems that Mark, a prominent barrister, is busy arguing a celebrated case regarding women’s rights activists who insist on their right to flash in public when they feel like it, without it being considered “indecent exposure.”)

                Yes, it’s much like an old-fashioned chick flick, where the emphasis is on the female characters, and the males barely fill out their caricatures.  Nevertheless, there are a few good gags, and a couple of memorable lines.  (Like “You know the other person is right when being with them feels like home.” And “Ask yourself this one question:  is this the one you want to grow old with?”)

                The problem is that it feels kind of superficial, almost like a sitcom, and the principals just aren’t arresting enough for complete viewer fascination (like, say, Alicia Vikander).  But it is at least mildly amusing, in an era where light adult comedy seems to be in short supply.

Questions for Discussion:

1)       Have you ever loved two at once?  Was it a good outcome?

2)      What’s the difference between a demanding but satisfying job, and one which is over-stressful and overwhelming?

3)      Should women have the right to expose themselves in public without being considered “lewd”?  Would the same principle apply to men?

Dr. Ronald P.  Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association