Oscar winners Renée Zellweger and Colin Firth are joined by Patrick Dempsey for the next chapter of the world's favorite singleton in Bridget Jones's Baby. Directed by Sharon Maguire (Bridget Jones's Diary), the new film in the beloved comedy series based on creator Helen Fielding's heroine finds Bridget unexpectedly expecting.
After breaking up with Mark Darcy (Firth), Bridget Jones's (Zellweger) "happily ever after" hasn't quite gone according to plan. Fortysomething and single again, she decides to focus on her job as top news producer and surround herself with old friends and new. For once, Bridget has everything completely under control. What could possibly go wrong?
Then her love life takes a turn and Bridget meets a dashing American named Jack (Dempsey), the suitor who is everything Mr. Darcy is not. In an unlikely twist she finds herself pregnant, but with one hitch…she can only be fifty percent sure of the identity of her baby's father.
The much-anticipated third installment of the Bridget Jones's franchise welcomes fellow Academy Award winner Emma Thompson to the cast. Longtime collaborators Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner of Working Title Films produce alongside Debra Hayward. Universal Pictures will distribute Bridget Jones's Baby in North America and select international territories.
Every once in a while, a sequel to a film comes out and I ask myself, “Exactly who was this made for?” As much as I enjoyed the first installment (and I did), I wasn't exactly pining for a sequel, and after seeing how that sequel turned out, I definitely didn't expect a third. I just felt that despite the second film being the travesty it is, Bridget (Renee Zellweger) made the choice to be with Mr. Darcy (Colin Firth) and that’s it. Love story over with the happy ending. So, imagine my surprise this summer when I saw the third film in the franchise on the docket for a September 2016 release.
We start off in an odd and off putting place from a viewer perspective. It has been quite a while since we have seen Bridget, and she and Mark Darcy have gone through a rough break up; it has actually been ten years since we last saw them get together. Ooo and did I mention that Daniel (Hugh Grant) is now dead, and the film begins at his funeral? This is an odd point to catch up with this character. Then, in true Bridget fashion, after being unable to celebrate her birthday with her usual group of friends, she accepts an offer to go “glamping” for her birthday with her quirky friend/coworker Miranda (Sarah Stolemani). While there, she has a one night stand with billionaire Jack (Patrick Dempsey). Then, a week later, Bridget reunites with Mark Darcy at a baby christening where she is the godmother and he is the last-minute godfather, and ends up sleeping with him as well, before leaving him alone in his bed the morning after. Six weeks later, Bridget realizes she is pregnant and doesn’t know which deserving man is the true father. Typical rom-com hijinks ensue. On the surface this seems like the kind of melodrama that could just be solved with a conversation and a test or two, but the actors elevate the material and make me forget about smaller situational contrivances.
Despite being way too thin for the role she perfectly captured in 2001, Zellweger still has that same charm that made her so great in the original, and she slips right back into the role like a glove. Bridget isn't a perfect person by any stretch of our imagination, but she is a wonderfully likable person that embraces her faults and in return, we do too. Firth, as always, is also a great straight man to the comedy, and Dempsey, who is actually the person I worried most about, ends up being a good addition to the group and doesn’t play the womanizing jerk that I thought he would play, as it seemed he was taking the place of Grant this time around.
But very quickly, I noticed two glaring problems that I have both with this and with 'Edge of Reason.’ First is the horrible situational comedy that both movies put Bridget through. Sure, there was some in the first film, but that all was in place to serve the character. She was a news anchor who was never meant to be in front of the camera, because of how awkward she was. In the second film and in this one, almost all of the situational humor does nothing to serve the narrative. At one point in this film, they have her falling down in a pile of mud on her camping trip to embarrass her in front of Jack for the first time they meet. I know it is to make her the damsel in distress so that Jack can eventually fall for her, but it embarrasses the character and therefore cheapens her. Then there is the bigger problem of the character of Bridget never growing and learning her lessons. They seem to always start Bridget off at a certain point romantically then bring her on the same journey each time (this is probably why they had Bridget and Mark oddly estranged at the beginning of this film). How many times do we need to see Bridget drag Mark through the mud only to see that he is the one for her in the end. This is the third time I have seen this arch, and to be quite honest, it wore off the second time I saw it. There is a stagnant quality to the character of Bridget Jones that I just can't shake. She just doesn’t grow as a character, and as a result I found myself reluctantly turning on this movie despite the charm of its cast because of the lack of development in these familiar characters.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Universal brings 'Bridget Jones’s Baby' to Blu-ray with a standard slipcover to hardcover casing. Inside we get the usual BD-50 Blu-ray DVD combo, with skippable trailers that lead us to the still frame main menu. I would have at least appreciated a Digital HD copy to download to my Apple TV, but no such luck here with this bare bones release.
Bridget romances your television on Blu-ray with a 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encode that truly impresses. That may be due to the fact that 'Bridget Jones’s Baby' was actually shot digitally with and Arri Alexa XT Plus camera and mastered in a 2K intermediate. I just can't find a bad transfer that the Arri Alexa cameras have put out; all have been stunning and this is no different. Framed at a 2.40:1 aspect ratio clarity is at an absolute high here with zero signs of grain on the screen as a result of shooting digitally. All of these actors have aged quite a bit, whether they want you to know it or not, and thanks to the great detail work, you can see all of those imperfections in these characters. It acts as an asset to the character of Bridget because the character is in her forties and dealing with being pregnant at this point in her life.
By far the best thing about this transfer is the way it showcases London. Exteriors bring this transfer to life with beautiful courtyards and landscapes that have a bright and vibrant color that I wouldn't expect from this series. Besides the stereotypical Italian guy that runs around the city at night, I like how the nightlife looks here too, with bright colors and black levels that never dip into that danger zone where we lose detail. There is no if, ands, or buts about it, the video transfer is the only thing that impresses while watching this film. You can never go wrong with shooting with the Arri Alexa line of cameras and this proves that even a subtle visual style goes a long way by choosing to shoot with them.
Bridget tries seducing your home theater system with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track mirrors how I feel about the movie itself. This is a more front heavy mix for sure, but that much is to be expected. Not every track needs to be a bombastic feast for our ears. Speaker separation between the fronts is decent without being distracting. Which is like saying when Bridget gets shamed by having to fall in a pool of mud the sound of the splash goes in the proper direction. What I am trying to say is this track is perfectly fine while leaving me wondering why it doesn't try hard enough to stand out among other dramatic tracks.
Surrounds and the LFE track are far too sparse and only come to life during the occasional musical feel good moment. So, if you have ever wondered what it's like to hear “All by Myself” by Jamie O’Neal in 5.1 surround sound they hey, you’re in luck. If not, then you will be a tad bit underwhelmed like I am. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a bad track by any stretch of the imagination, I just like my mixes with more passion behind them. Where is the London nightlife in my surrounds? Where is the commotion in Bridget's newsroom? Nowhere to be found. Like I said, this isn't a bad track, but if you are a person who likes more of a living breathing audio track this might leave you just a tad bit cold and conflicted.
Alternate Ending (3:51 HD) - Nothing good to see here except the same outcome just in a different package. A collection of recorded videos commenting on the end result of the "baby dilemma."
Deleted/Alternate Scenes (17:25 HD) - A collection of nine deleted scenes that add a bit more heart to the film; I regret that they aren't in the film. One interesting scene introduced Bridget and Jack’s chemistry earlier in the film. But my absolute favorite is a very touching scene where Mark reads a goodbye letter written to Bridget from Daniel where he expresses his love to her. This could add more dimension to Mark’s dilemma in the film. I can only see one reason that they didn’t keep it, and that is because Grant either refused or was never asked to reprise his role.
Gag Reel (2:06 HD) - Typical gag reel. If you like seeing Zellweger laugh uncontrollably for no reason over and over again this might be for you. If not, you can skip it.
Full Circle – The Making Of 'Bridget Jones’s Baby' (18:54) - A series of five vignettes that offers very little to why this film was made other than Zellweger is Bridget Jones. Yes, we all know that, but why must we return to this character yet again? They say it is to see Bridget in her forties dealing with pregnancy for the first time so late in her life. But I don’t know if that is enough of a reason to return, and after experiencing the film in all of its familiarity, I definitely don’t think that was the focus.
There is an epidemic in the film industry today. ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’ falls under a large category that is getting larger and larger by the month these days: unneeded sequels to films that I am fond of. This isn't a bad movie. In fact, it is a charming movie with a charming cast and some good laughs. But the creators of this movie don't even know why they made this movie except for an empty September slot to fill. Bridget doesn't grow as a character, and to be honest she hasn’t since her first outing. As a result, I know all the drama that we see and any dilemma that Bridget encounters will be solved the same way it always is. Which leaves me a bit distant from this movie and the many, many other films that suffer from the disease that is the ambivalent sequel. Luckily, the video presentation here is great, even better than this movie deserves, and because of that it ekes my overall grade to a perfectly acceptable rental.