Sometimes life throws you curve balls and you find yourself doing things you never had any intention of doing. For example, my power went out last night; and, rather than wait around in the dark for it to come back on, I decided to go see a movie to pass the time. I arrived at the theater at about 8:40 PM, having in mind to catch the next showing of either Snowden or Blair Witch. Unfortunately, the next time those films would play wouldn’t be until 10:15 PM, and I didn’t feel like waiting that long. Still, wanting to see something, I noticed that Bridget Jones’s Baby would be playing at 9:30 PM. Now, I have no vested interest in the Bridget Jones movies. I haven’t seen the preceding two entries; and, except for the fact that they star Renée Zellweger in the titular role, I couldn’t tell you a thing about them (it was even a surprise to me to learn that Jones is British in these movies). But there I found myself last night in the theater watching this latest chapter in the Bridget Jones saga.
And, for what it’s worth, I thought this movie was good. It’s not amazing, but it’s enjoyable, and I get the sense that it fulfills the requirements of a Bridget Jones movie to a more than acceptable degree.
This time around, Jones is in her early forties, single, and starting to feel pressure to have a child. Through a series of semi-silly events, she does become pregnant, but with the catch that she’s not sure who exactly the father is. Due to the timing, it could be one of two men. The first is Jack Qwant, a wealthy and amicable American dating website creator (played by Patrick Dempsey of Grey’s Anatomy and race car driving fame). The second is an old muse of Jones, Mark Darcy (played by Colin Firth, who has been in many good movies lately), who embodies a certain archetype of the proper but emotionally distant Englishman and whose name may or may not be a reference to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Both men vie for Jones’s affection, while she struggles to determine which one she really loves. Compounding this affair is the fact that Jones won’t perform a DNA test to determine the father of her child until after he is born (lest it risk harm to him), meaning that neither Bridget nor these two men will get everything sorted out for a while.
Obviously this creates a good amount of conflict in the story, and while you could conceivably make a stone-cold serious picture from this same material, it’s mostly played for laughs here. This is a funny and lighthearted film, first and foremost, as I imagine the other Bridget Jones movies are; and that’s fine. It’s amusing to see Jones have to work through all of this nuttiness in her life; and some of her inner monologues (she narrates to the audience) on this situation are both hilarious and insightful (as a side note, Zellweger does a good job in this role, and she pulls off a pretty descent British accent as well). It’s also nice that, despite obvious tension, neither of the two potential fathers are portrayed as bad men. They each are respectable in their own way (and obviously well acted), and it’s appreciable that the story doesn’t resort to having to make one of them a villain in order to resolve everything.
This is all just another way of saying that the story falls under the Bubblegum category of movie making; it’s the kind of picture with a positive tone, where everything works out okay, and nobody was ever really in too much trouble throughout the plot. The morals of this story are fairly simple — 1) love can come at unexpected times in unexpected ways; and 2) don’t sleep with two men in such close proximity as to not be sure which is the father of your child — but they work. I don’t watch these kind of movies too much, but I appreciated this one. It’s positive in an endearing way; and it was a nice change of pace for me. It didn’t even really matter that I hadn’t seen the other Bridget Jones films. This picture gives you enough to fill in the relevant details. Moreover, I get the sense that this movie has a good amount of callbacks to earlier Bridget Jones pictures that those who have followed this series will enjoy.
Given that I liked this movie, and given that I’m not exactly qualified to comment on this series, do I dare point out any perceived faults? Or do I just withhold any criticism under the rationale that I would have to watch the series as a whole in order to determine whether or not any problems are actually problems in the right context? How about I just point out one issue I had with the movie. Without giving too much away, the ending of the film seemed to be going in a particular direction, only to perform a sudden shift at the last minute. It was a little awkward for me, and it made me wonder if it was the result of an eleventh hour change in the story. Evidently I’m not alone in bringing this up, either (which is also why I don’t feel bad about discussing this); this article also discusses this problem, and it gives more details about what exactly is wrong here.
That aside, as I said, I did enjoy Bridget Jones’s Baby for what it was: lighthearted romantic fluff (I mean that in a positive sense). I may even try to check out the earlier Bridget Jones films now to see what they’re like. On a related note, I sort of think this latest movie will be the last in the Bridget Jones series, given that I can’t imagine any more wacky shenanigans for her now that she has motherhood to deal with. Then again, the film does seemingly set up for a sequel at the end, so who knows. We may yet see Bridget Jones’s Motherhood in a few years.
But in the mean time, if you are up for some well-done Rom-Com bubblegum, I’d recommend checking this one out.
Also, Colin Firth has a really nice voice. Just thought I’d point that out.