This review first appeared in the Sunday Star-Times, September 2016
To be fair to Bridget Jones, this sequel presents a valid justification for reviving her brand. Unlike the recent “Absolutely Fabulous: Regeneration” movie (absolutely unnecessary, more like), and the recast update on the decades old Dad’s Army, the latest installment of Bridget’s Slings and Arrows of the Terminally Unmarried comes with a great conceit: at 43, she finds herself unexpectedly up the duff, but doesn’t know whether the father is the former love of her life, Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), or a dashing algorithm billionaire played by Patrick Dempsey.
Which should she bet on? The Fresh Start or the Old Times’ Sake? Director Sharon Maguire’s follow-up has myriad problems, from some lame jokes to the excruciatingly awkward slapstick, but the characterisation of the would-be (nay, positively wanna-be) dads is actually one of the film’s strengths. Firth and Dempsey produce such polar opposite yet equally appealing options that the script manages to toy with us until the very end, making the story unusually engrossing.
It helps a lot that as Firth climbs back on that straight-faced horse in his pin-striped suit, we are magicked back to those heady days when Bridget Jones counted calories and fumbled her lines and we loved her romantic ineptitude as it mirrored our own. Of course, we’ve moved on in the last 12 years and even Bridget has, sort-of, working as a TV news producer and maintaining her goal weight. (One imagines Renee Zellweger being express in her contract that she would not be puffing up again for this sequel.) And Zellweger’s still got it, too – that trill British accent, the pout, the hair which always looks like it has cake and children’s toys stuck in it, even when it hasn’t.
So if this was a bit of you back then, it’ll be a bit of you now. Predictably, the usual supporting suspects reappear (dotty mum, understanding dad, sweary friends) and there are the obligatory call-backs to the earlier flicks.
But the film doesn’t dwell too much on history. Bridget has a very present predicament, and with any luck she won’t have to sort it out all by herself.