Monday, September 19, 2016

[Review] Bridget Jones's Baby

12 years since the last Bridget Jones picture, Renée Zelwegger reprises her role as the belovedly fumbling, quintessentially British heroine in Bridget Jones's Baby--a film that's way better than any later romantic comedy sequel has any business being.

The just-turned-43 Bridget is still single and looking to rejuvenate her love life. In the meantime, she's ready to let loose for a weekend of smanging. Between a wild hookup at a music festival with dashing American stranger Jack (Patrick Dempsey), and a romantic night with old flame Mark (Colin Firth), yep--as the trailers showed--she gets pregnant. And no one knows which guy is the father.

As you'd imagine, many shenanigans ensue, a messy love triangle forms, and juicy dilemmas and dizzying pro & con lists are stuffed into our face. Now, a debacle like this is nothing new, but the story is nicely told here in a welcomely charming and sentimental manner with plenty of laughs and heart. The humor is deliciously awkward and effectively embarrassing--a few moments made me squirm and sink down in my chair. There's even an amusing subplot about Mark being a defense attorney for a protesting punk band (basically a Pussy Riot stand-in), which aids the narrative's underlying themes of liberation and empowerment. Not all of the humor lands, though. Some of it is pretty outdated. I didn't really need to see another "Gangnam Style" dance scene in 2016.

The cast is consistently ravishing, however. Zelwegger is excellent in the central performance, both as a source of comedy and emotional overload. There are some great supporting roles from Bridget's spunky co-worker (Sarah Solemani) and her gynecologist (Emma Thompson, who drops a hilarious line about trying not to fart during yoga). Dempsey and Firth engage in some good old-fashioned brodown tension. They each have their moments of winning hearts over, which of course adds to the film's major conflict (although you might find yourself rooting for a certain one). And even if you think you've predicted the outcome, you'd be crazy not to want to see how this thing turns out.

Nowadays it seems that rom-coms need to be *subversive* in order to get critical praise, but a film like Bridget Jones's Baby captures the magic of memorable rom-coms from decades past, and it reminds us why so many people adore this genre when it's done well. Sure, the tropes are familiar, but they stay true--you can't define love with algorithms and survey matches, and life just doesn't always go as planned. (Does it ever really?)

Oh, Bridget!

( 8/10 )

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