Helen Fielding’s famous character, Bridget Jones, is back on the big screen.
PA’s film critic Damon Smith gives his verdict on Bridget Jones’s Baby:
As creative pregnancies go, Bridget Jones’s Baby has taken longer than most to come full term.
It’s been 12 years since Renee Zellweger adopted a near flawless English accent to portray the hapless singleton in Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason.
In the interim, writer Helen Fielding has delivered a third novel, Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy, but it’s her series of newspaper columns from more than a decade ago that fertilizes this haphazard yet joyful stumble into motherhood.
The third film throws a warm, affectionate and frequently hilarious baby shower for characters we’ve grown to love and proves that Bridget may have (finally) dieted down to her target dress size but she’s no closer to achieving her Happy Ever After.
Director Sharon Maguire, who helmed Bridget Jones’s Diary, and her clucky trio of screenwriters, which includes Renee’s co-star Emma Thompson, are in a celebratory mood.
They bookmark the heroine’s trials and vacillations with nostalgic flashbacks to earlier films, reminding us of Bridget’s infuriating obsessions and her fitful romantic dalliances with paramours Colin Firth and Hugh Grant.
“I’m trying not to think I’m past my sexual sell-by date,” laments Bridget, as she careers at high speed towards her 43rd birthday without a wedding ring on her finger.
She works as a producer at Hard News alongside old boss Richard Finch (Neil Pearson) and newscaster pal Miranda (Sarah Solemani), who suggests a hedonistic girls-only weekend at a music festival.
The gal pals descend on a muddy field, which Miranda pithily describes as “Sodom and Gomorrah… with tofu”.
A late-night blunder into the wrong yurt leads to a spontaneous coupling with a handsome American love guru called Jack Qwant (Patrick Dempsey).
A few days later, Bridget is powerless to resist the silky charms of old flame Mark Darcy (Firth), who is separating from his wife.
A pregnancy test at work confirms that Bridget is about to gain weight. If only she knew the identity of the father…
Bridget Jones’s Baby opens with a blast of the heroine’s preferred anthem of self-pity – All By Myself, before a choice expletive kicks her out of a fug and the plot into first gear.
Renee slips back into the title role as if it was written for her, oozing lovability, fragility and regret as she wonders how to broach the subject of paternity with her two suitors.
Patrick and Colin are attractive rivals for Bridget’s brittle affections and the script keeps us guessing as long as possible about the course of true love.
Set pieces, including a tussle with a revolving door, are genuinely hysterical and Emma nabs several of the best lines as Bridget’s despairing obstetrician, including a zinging one-liner that advises expectant fathers against witnessing the miracle of birth first-hand.
Ignorance, like Sharon’s rumbustious film, is bliss.
Bridget Jones’s Baby is released in the UK and Ireland on September 16.