Brid­get Jones’s Baby

HK Magazine - - FILM - Jes­sica Wei

(UK/USA) Ro­mance/Com­edy. Di­rected by Sharon Maguire. Star­ring Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth, Pa­trick Dempsey. Cat­e­gory IIB. 123 min­utes. Opened Sep 15.

It’s been 12 years since au­di­ences across the world were last caught up in the will-they-or-won’t-they saga be­tween Renée Zellweger’s ec­cen­tric Brid­get Jones and Colin Firth’s but­tonedup but charm­ing Mark Darcy. This time, Brid­get has risen through the pro­fes­sional ranks from a cog in the pub­lish­ing ma­chine to a pro­ducer on an evening news show. Now in her 40s, she’s once again un­at­tached, and this time she’s slimmed down to her “ideal weight.” Her squad has evolved from cock­tail-ready gal-pals into baby-tot­ing bench­warm­ers, who are fol­low­ing her sexy sin­gle life from the side­lines. Af­ter pledg­ing to a life of he­do­nism af­ter her 43rd birth­day, Jones en­gages in a night of pas­sion with mys­te­ri­ous Amer­i­can Jack (Pa­trick Dempsey) at a mu­sic fes­ti­val, and a week later hooks up with her ex, Mark Darcy. She finds her­self preg­nant, and must fig­ure out who the fa­ther is while jug­gling both their af­fec­tions, in her sig­na­ture awk­ward fash­ion. Oh, Brid­get! When will you learn?!

In 2001, Brid­get Jones was a rev­e­la­tory pro­tag­o­nist for a gen­er­a­tion of women who adored the grand comedic ro­mances of the ‘90s, while feel­ing dis­en­fran­chised by the pa­rade of wafer-thin lead­ing ladies whose only flaws were that they were too ca­reer-minded. Brid­get, at a solid size 12, was painfully awk­ward, earnest to a fault, hell-bent on self­im­prove­ment yet vul­ner­a­ble to her vices. She was all of us, and even a lit­tle worse, but no less de­serv­ing of love than the women she com­peted with at the box of­fice.

Watch­ing Brid­get Jones in 2016 feels a bit like step­ping back in time: It’s a com­fort­ing re­turn to sim­pler times, but not with­out its un­com­fort­able anachro­nisms. In this in­stal­ment di­rected by Sharon Maguire (who also di­rected the orig­i­nal “Brid­get Jones’s Diary”), he­do­nism as an an­ti­dote to lone­li­ness is gen­er­ously re­warded, moth­er­hood is a pre­scribed mile­stone in the ex­pe­ri­ence of wom­an­hood, and men are over­whelm­ingly praised for the sim­ple act of show­ing up. Brid­get’s “ev­ery­woman” qual­ity has tar­nished: It’s harder to re­late to a woman at the peak of her phys­i­cal at­trac­tive­ness, who has to choose be­tween two suc­cess­ful men (in­clud­ing a bil­lion­aire!), both ea­ger to start a fam­ily with her.

But de­spite all the prob­lems of “Brid­get Jones’s Baby,” the charm fac­tor has never been higher. Zellweger reprises her role with grace and good hu­mor, Firth is still awk­wardly dash­ing, and Dempsey has got­ten so good at play­ing “hap­less other man” roles (as in “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Made of Honor”) you al­most for­get that he was ever Mc­Dreamy. De­spite a rocky start, the film slides into bliss­ful ab­sur­dity, in­clud­ing a hi­lar­i­ous re­cur­ring gag in­volv­ing im­pris­oned Rus­sian band “Poon­ami” (à la Pussy Riot) and a gri­mac­ing Mr. Darcy. Like a visit from a con­ge­nial but of­ten PC-averse aun­tie, “Brid­get Jones’s Baby” is not with­out its cringe-wor­thy mo­ments, but it’s de­light­ful all the same.

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