Twelve years after the underwhelming Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason and fifteen years after the hit adaptation of Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary, original director Sharon Maguire has returned with most of her original cast intact – there are a couple of good-natured digs at an absent Hugh Grant – for another outing in the company of the London-based chronicler of love, work and unsexy knickers. Bridget, now 43 and played for a third time by Renée Zellweger, is largely defined by her singleton status yet again, though as before there is some emphasis on her social life, her relationship with her parents and her career (she’s working for a TV news channel but her position is threatened by – gasp! – younger people). In early scenes she sleeps with The Chiselled American Dude (Patrick Dempsey) and The Tight-lipped English Guy (Colin Firth) during the same week, and subsequently discovers that she is pregnant; and so on we go through the term of the pregnancy, with doubt as to who is the baby’s father, and with a soul-searching Bridget flitting back and forth between both men as she weighs up the pros and cons of American beef and English muffin.
Few people were clamouring for a third Bridget Jones movie, but in fairness the character still seems to be very popular — my local multiplex had it on five screens during the opening weekend, and apparently there were only a handful of seats available. It pleased the crowd, and actually it’s not difficult to see why such goodwill remains after a long break: Zellweger puts a lot into her performance as Bridget once again, and she’s happy to take pratfalls and let other laughs come at her expense (in fact I’d forgotten how good a physical comedian she is). I like her a lot in this role, and she’s ably supported by the likes of Sally Phillips, Sarah Solemani and Emma Thompson, all of whom I’d have been happy to see more of; the men, by contrast, play it straight once more. There are a number of gentle, ever-so-slightly-risqué laughs here and there, as you’d expect from a Working Title film, and a few scenes that make you cringe at the depiction of London, and England, as you’d also expect from a Working Title film. It’s not really my cup of tea (and obviously it’s not really aimed at me) but I do appreciate the fact that it’s fairly warm-hearted and that it ribs a wide variety of (admittedly easy) targets. Millennials – the predictable punching bag de nos jours – come in for some treatment, and there’s a good Thatcher joke in there too, though I don’t think anyone under 30 in my screening got it. Simply put, if you enjoyed the first Bridget Jones film you’ll probably find plenty to like here, too.
Directed by: Sharon Maguire.
Written by: Helen Fielding, Dan Mazer, Emma Thompson.
Starring: Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Emma Thompson, Sally Phillips, Sarah Solemani, Jim Broadbent, Gemma Jones, Shirley Henderson, James Callis, Celia Imrie, Neil Pearson.
Cinematography: Andrew Dunn.
Editing: Melanie Ann Oliver.
Music: Craig Armstrong, Various.
Running Time: 123 minutes.