For a review of “Bridget Jones’s Baby,”
What a treat it is to dive back into the cozy world of Bridget Jones, who is the kind of old friend you can pick up with right where it left off, no matter how long it’s been. “Bridget Jones’s Baby” opens with a familiar scene for our pal: Bridget (Renee Zellweger) celebrating her birthday alone to the tune of “All By Myself,” blowing out a candle on a single cupcake, guzzling white wine in her jammies. The pity party’s over soon enough though, as she skips the song and boogies instead to “Jump Around.” Has Bridget Jones gotten her groove back?
She does, in fact, have a groove, perhaps for the first time. She’s a producer on the television program “Hard News,” still has her great group of friends, even though they’re now all saddled with kids, and has achieved her ideal weight. But Bridget’s always been one for self-improvement, so when it comes to her love life, she’s is determined to make new mistakes, not old ones.
Jack Quant (Patrick Dempsey), an American tech billionaire who has leveraged his match-making algorithm into a successful dating app, is the perfect new mistake, as opposed to old mistake Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), the fussbudget workaholic lawyer with whom things never worked out. Good thing Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) isn’t in the picture this time around.
Bridget has a tendency to self-sabotage her romances, but biology doesn’t let her off the hook this time, and at 43, she finds herself with child. Just who else is also with child in this scenario — Jack or Mark — is the question that’s up for debate in the film.
While the neuroses of “Bridget Jones” have always been about bodies, “Baby” releases her from this anxiety and flips the script, letting Bridget reclaim the power of her own body. “Weight: who cares?” she types in her ubiquitous diary around Christmastime, when she’s rounding the bend on nine months pregnant. She grew a human with that body.
Part of what’s so refreshing about “Bridget Jones’s Baby” is that at 43, Bridget is effortlessly desirable, sexy, adventurous, and yes, adorable. The film just assumes this as fact, balancing Bridget’s wryly self-deprecating inner monologue alongside the external perspective that sees her for the fetching beauty that she is. Zellweger plays Bridget just as charmingly as she always has — flawed but endearing; just right in her own idiosyncratic way.
This relatable (if somewhat aspirational) character comes not just from Zellweger’s performance, but also from the assured direction of Sharon Maguire, who helmed “Bridget Jones’s Diary” in 2001, as well as the fast, fresh, and very funny screenplay. “Jones” author Helen Fielding collaborated with Dan Mazer and British national treasure Emma Thompson (who also plays Bridget’s ob-gyn) on the script. The jokes reference beloved scenes from the first film, but it never feels like a re-hash of old material (they even manage to draw laughs from a dated reference to “Gangnam Style”).
Yet it feels current because they’ve allowed the character to grow. She’s still awkward and prone to embarrassing foibles, but is older, wiser, comfortable in her own skin. Shockingly, it seems as though Bridget has learned to live in the moment. As Bridget Jones discovers her own kind of zen, it makes for a third installment that proves to be v.v. satisfying.
“Bridget Jones’s Baby,” a Universal Pictures release, is rated R for language, sex references and some nudity. Running time: 122 minutes.
It wasn’t a smart script or great acting that made “The Blair Witch Project” a box office sensation in 1999. It was the creative way the movie was put together and promoted that created buzz around the quirky independent film.
Even before “The Blair Witch Project” opened, there was a website and a cable special that related the story of a group of young people who went missing in some Maryland woods. The only thing left was shaky footage that gave an insight into their night of terror and encounter with something in the dark.
The found-footage style was original when it was used with “The Blair Witch Project.” It not only offered a different way of looking at a horror film, it added to the suggestion that the movie was the product of a group of people with cameras running for their lives that was finally stitched together. But today, it’s so overused it makes films annoying and look cheap.
In “Blair Witch,” a followup to the original movie, James (James Allen McCune) is the brother of Heather, the woman who went missing in the original incident. He wants to find out if there is a chance his sister is still alive after all these years. To keep the shaky footage style going, James is joined by his friends who have agreed to shoot a documentary about the search. This time, the group is equipped with more hightech gear, such as cameras that fit on their ear and a drone.
“Blah Witch” (oops, “Blair Witch”) then sets the group on their path of doom aided by a couple of locals who grew up near the woods.
This is the point where you will want to get up and go stand in a corner so you don’t have to see the rest of this mess. Under the guidance of director Adam Wingard, “Blair Witch” follows the identical story line of the campers getting lost and being scared by loud noises and figures made out of sticks. They begin to disappear one by one until a final confrontation.
Unless you have never seen “The Blair Witch Project,” every step of this film is going to feel familiar. Little frightens when each scene is so predictable. The plot of the original film wasn’t that interesting, so rehashing it is like a chef trying to make a seven-course meal out of water.
It’s not fair to talk about the lack of strong acting efforts since most of the time the actors aren’t even on screen. Instead, there is endless footage of a light reflecting of tree branches while someone runs through the woods. If next year’s Oscars has a category for Best Supporting Sapling, “Blair Witch” is a lock.
Simon Barrett is credited as the writer. But surely a script must be longer than what can be written on a cocktail napkin to earn such a credit. They arrive. They run. They die. Roll credits.
The key to the original movie was watching the footage found after the disappearance. That gave the movie a slight touch of credibility. No such effort is made with “Blair Witch,” which is presented like a standard horror movie where a group of young people end up in a place they shouldn’t be and systematically get removed.
“Blair Witch” is nothing but a pale imitation of “The Blair Witch Project” — void of all creativity and originality. It’s so bad, it manages what should have been impossible and is far worse that “Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2.” Even a dung beetle would find this too much of a stinker to endure.
“Blair Witch,” a Lionsgate release, is rated R for disturbing images, brief language. Running time: 89 minutes. Zero stars
Wes Robinson, left, and Valorie Curry star in “Blair Witch,” a follow-up to “The Blair Witch Project.”