It’s been 12 years since we last saw her but she’s back, she’s preggers, and she doesn’t know who the father is! Could it be uptight series regular Mark (Colin Firth) or is it motorcycle-riding and Hugh Grant-replacing entrepreneur Jack (Patrick Dempsey)?
Chances are your expectations hang low for this third instalment of Helen Fielding’s character and that you couldn’t care less about the newly contrived love triangle and the ensuing paternity test. You’d be right but against all conceivable odds, Bridget Jones’ Baby is not the total disaster it could have been. Renée Zellweger comfortably slips back into the role and, while damning with faint praise, the belated threequel is a step-up from 2004‘s Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. This is chiefly thanks not to Zellweger but to the deadpan charms of Emma Thompson, who is brilliant as a world-weary gynaecologist who compares the experience of a man observing childbirth to watching “a favourite pub burning down”.
The years have undoubtedly made this series less endearing and aside from that searing image, Bridget Jones’ Baby offers little: it is the same aggressively middle-of-the-road story, this time featuring yurts, zorbing, Ed Sheeran, and Sister Sledge singing “We Are Family” to painfully mirror how, in the end, happiness depends on a woman’s capacity to legally settle down with a man and seal the deal with a child. Even if the film knows its audience, you can’t help but feel the filmmakers could have made this delayed case of déjà-vu a little bit less predictable. Still, as revivals go, the return of the “verbally incontinent spinster” isn’t all bad and certainly not as dire as this year’s Absolutely Fabulous.
Bridget Jones’ Baby | Directed by Sharon Maguire (USA/UK, 2016) with Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Emma Thompson. Starts October 20.