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'Bridget Jones's Baby' frothy and fun

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Belated sequel offers plenty of laughter and love

Despite being someone who watches movies as part of my living, the reality is that there are some gaps in my experience. There are movies out there popular ones that I, for whatever reason, have simply never gotten around to seeing.

For instance, even though I have a real (and well-documented) affection for romantic comedies, I have never seen 'Bridget Jones's Diary' or its 2004 sequel 'Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.' So it was the slightest trepidation that I set out to see the latest installment 'Bridget Jones's Baby.'

However, as a general consumer of pop culture who also happens to have a passing familiarity with the works of Jane Austen, I definitely had the gist of Bridget Jones. And I assumed correctly, as it turns out that a sequel coming a dozen years later might not delve too deep into backstory.

What I didn't anticipate was just how fun this film would turn out to be.

Bridget (Renee Zellweger, herself making a return to the big screen after six years away) is turning 43. She is single once again and working as a producer for a news program; her life appears to be a relatively happy one. She's got plenty of friends at the office particularly Miranda (Sarah Solemani, 'Hector'), the show's newsreader and is living healthy.

But nothing is that simple for Bridget.

Her longtime on-again off-again beau Mark Darcy (Colin Firth, 'Genius') keeps popping up into her life. Another former flame (Daniel, the one played by Hugh Grant) has perished in a plane crash. She managed to hook up with a complete stranger after stumbling into the wrong yurt at a music festival that she and Miranda attended, only to soon afterward learn that Mark is getting divorced and falling back into her old patterns.

Oh, and she's also dealing with a team of corporate brand managers brought in to give some 'edge' to their news program a group with whom she doesn't necessarily see eye to eye.

At first, Bridget deals with it all fairly well. But then she's pregnant. And due to theproximityof her previous trysts, she has no way of knowing whether the father is Mark or the music festival stranger, a man who turns out to be Jack Quant (Patrick Dempsey, TV's 'Grey's Anatomy'), dating algorithm inventor and internet billionaire.

Hijinks most definitely ensue.

Bridget is trapped in a bizarre love triangle, trying to mediate between two very different men who are competing for her affections without knowing which one of them is the father of her unborn child. It's all very complicated.

And kind of hilarious.

'Bridget Jones's Baby' surprised me. It's not that I thought it would be bad; I just always kind of assumed it wasn't really for me. But not only was this film sweet and heartwarming, it also derived plenty of charm from coarseness. It is a well-written, well-shot and generally well-executed piece of entertainment the type of movie that we should, frankly, be rooting for in today's cinematic landscape.

Director Sharon Maguire working from a very funny script by Dan Mazer, Helen Fielding (author of the Bridget Jones novels) and Emma Thompson (yes, that Emma Thompson; she's also in the movie and absolutely delightful) understands this world and these people; she directed the first film back in 2001. That comfort is reflected in this film there's a breeziness to the entire thing that only contributes to the general levity of the proceedings.

Is it weird to say that I finally get Renee Zellweger after this movie? I've never been a fan, but if she's as good in the other films as she is in this one, I can see how she has earned the affection of audiences. Her Bridget is a bit of a mess, but charmingly so; she leaves us hoping that even her bad decisions work out. She's pleasant but rarely demure and discontented but rarely disheartened, with just the right of coarse saltiness sprinkled in. It's a lovely performance.

Colin Firth is just delightful as Darcy; is there anyone out there who does such fine work in conveying complex emotions from behind an ever-stiff upper lip? He manages to show just the tiniest glimpses of feeling from beneath his army of propriety. Meanwhile, Dempsey's Jack is a bit shaggier, a bit more freewheelingand a bit less interesting. That isn't to say Dempsey is bad he's actually quite engaging and energetic. But the character is maybe just a bit too on-the-nose, leaving the actor without anywhere to go.

The rest of the supporting cast fills in the gaps admirably, though there are definitely a few highlights. Solemani is quite good. Thompson iswell, she's Emma Thompson of course she's great. Jim Broadbent ('The Legend of Tarzan') and Gemma Jones (TV's 'Unforgotten') are wonderful as Bridget's doting parents.

'Bridget Jones's Baby' is far better than it probably has any right to be. A dozen years after the last film, the sell-by date should be long past. Yet these characters have carried forward just as easy as you please, resulting in a clever and occasionally crass comedy filled with equal parts love and laughter.

[4.5 out 5]

Last modified on Friday, 16 September 2016 09:54

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