Posted Sep 19 2016

Bridget Jones's Baby - This Movie Scrapes A Rocks

Dir: Sharon Maguire

Starring Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Emma Thompson, Jim Broadbent, Gemma Jones, Sarah Solemani, Sally Phillips

We’re doing this in three parts. It is, after all, the third part of a trilogy. Our parts will be 1: The Positive; 2: The Negative; and, 3: Conclusion. (It all feels so scientific, doesn’t it?)

Anyway – 1: The Positive – This is so much better than the second one, which was just a mess. And on top of that - isn’t it great to have Renee Zellweger back? OK, forget the question mark – rhetorical question. It just is. Watching her re-inhabit the ultimate singleton is pure and simply a reminder of what a tremendous actress she is. (And we speak as someone who once interviewed her whilst she went for a pee and kept talking with the bathroom door ajar. Now, that’s dedication to the cause.)

Add to that – on the positive tip – Mr Colin Firth. Never heard him pee, but love the way he inhabits both the pain and sadness of the repressed British male better than just about anyone else. Ever! And somehow he makes it funny. In the first BJ movie (no pun intended) he was almost stunt casting – you remember, the whole Mr Darcy/BBC P&P thing. Now, noticeably older, the man has found the role and does it to perfection. To say he outplays Renee would be churlish – it’s more he completes her. (Sorry – we went there.)

Oh, and while we’re being positive – all things Emma Thompson – who (apparently) showed up, wrote all her own dialogue, and stole the entire fucking show!

Which brings us to – 2: The Negative – No Hugh Grant!!! Damn but he’s missed – even if his image does show up to provide a couple of really good gags. 

Also, this year’s model of BJ (again, no pun intended) is remarkably – but markedly – dated. The whole thing feels like it should have been made ten years ago (which they were trying to do but could never get it together.) The references – from Hitler cats on the internet to ironic beards to the vast majority of the soundtrack - are woefully out of date. The soundtrack in fact sounds like a mix tape (“tape” being apposite) borrowed from just about every episode of The X Factor over the last decade – the fact that  Walking On Sunshine and Ain’t No Mountain High Enough don’t show up is surely an oversight on the filmmakers’ part.

Plus, still sticking with the negative here, despite the warm, cosy period feel the film inadvertently evokes, it struggles against some attempt on the screenwriters' part to make it a kinda/sorta Brit Bridesmaids – to the point where the great Sally Phillips literally lifts a line straight from that superior film  which is hugely noticeable and hugely out of place.

Finally on the negative – Patrick Dempsey. Good looking former Woo Woo Kid – but isn’t he bland ladies? No? Just us then.

Which leads us to 3: Conclusion – It really kinda/sorta works overall (despite the above.) It knows “sweet”, it gets “sweet”, it delivers some kind of resolution. It has great performances in Zellweger, Thompson and – especially – Firth. And as outdated as it feels, it feels a good deal grown up. It sets up choices and makes the right ones. It’s not great. But it’s really rather decent. Which is nice.


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