Directed by: Sharon Maguire – Starring: Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Jim Broadbent, Gemma Jones, Emma Thompson, Sally Phillips, James Callis, Sarah Solemani, Celia Imrie, Shirley Henderson
It is 12 years since we last saw the chain-smoking, calorie-counting, wine-guzzling singleton that is Bridget Jones, and much like the comfy pyjamas beloved of the character, Renée Zellweger has managed to slip right back into the role with ease.
If you haven’t seen the previous two films I won’t bore you with a recap, but suffice to say that Bridget’s life has moved on over the past decade and a bit. She is now at her target weight, and a hotshot TV producer. However, while she may have hit diet and career goals, her love life is still in something of a quandary, as she has broken up with Mark Darcy, whom she looked set to live happily ever after with in light of the previous two films!
Finding her return to the dating scene tricky at the age of 43, she heads to a music festival (as you do) where she enjoys a romp with a handsome American named Jack (Dempsey aka McDreamy from Grey’s Anatomy). Thrilled to be back in the game, she returns home full of beans, and soon enjoys an awkward encounter with the dashing Mr Darcy (Firth).
It’s hardly a spoiler, given the film’s title, to say that she finds herself ‘in the family way’, but after her two close encounters, she has no idea who the father is. Cue lots of vying for her affection from both sides, confusion at ante-natal classes, wry witticisms from her doctor (Thompson) and much soul-searching on Bridget’s part – all recorded on her trusty tablet rather than the diary of old.
This sticks to its tried and tested formula that turned the books and movies into such a phenomenon. Bridget is still an everywoman, and although she starts the movie looking super-slender, as my friend pointed out “we know she gets fat because of the pregnancy so it’s fine.”
Her well-intentioned foibles are still hilarious, and pretty much everyone can relate to most of the situations she inadvertently finds herself in on some level (maybe not the ‘who’s the daddy’ question, but her general lack of adulting skills definitely).
Zellweger is still supremely likeable as the titular heroine, and Colin Firth is still uptight but adorable as her Darcy. Newcomer Dempsey fits in well as the ostentatious, brash, entrepreneur, who hopes to steal Bridget’s heart, and makes a nice addition to her always-complicated romantic life.
Meanwhile, all the supporting cast, playing Bridget’s family and friends, are as brilliantly batty as ever. However, I was disappointed that you didn’t get to see more of her close circle, who were such an integral part of the first and second movie. They are all written as smug marrieds here – even her gay friend, Tom (Callis) who is in the process of adopting a child. Therefore, we see very little of the banter between them that worked so well in the previous offerings.
That aside, this is still very much Bridget’s movie, and it is wonderfully sweet, funny and engaging. There are one or two clunky attempts to try and convey the way that the world has moved on in the past twelve years, and the music festival is riddled with clichés (although it does boast the cutest Ed Sheeran cameo you will ever see!) but this doesn’t detract from the fact that you are fully invested in Bridget’s journey.
This would have been a far more worthy sequel to the first film than The Edge of Reason, and really does pick up her story nicely. Fans who grew up with the character won’t be disappointed, but even people who have no prior knowledge of Bridget should enjoy the romp.
Shamelessly aimed at a the female and gay male audience, this is a total romp from start to finish, and probably won’t garner Zellweger an Oscar nomination like her first portrayal did, but nonetheless should bring a smile to even the most jaded viewer, and a bellyache from laughing to most. (Trailer Below).
In Cinemas September 16th!