Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. Ireland/United Kingdom/France/USA, 2016. Miramax, Perfect World Pictures, StudioCanal, Universal Pictures, Working Title Films. Screenplay by Helen Fielding, Dan Mazer, Emma Thompson, based on characters created by Helen Fielding. Cinematography by Andrew Dunn. Produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward. Music by Craig Armstrong. Production Design by John Paul Kelly. Costume Design by Steven Noble. Film Editing by Melanie Oliver.
Fifteen years after she first charmed us, and twelve years after she disappointed us with a sequel, the adorable London singleton is back and, despite not having been in a major film in a while, Renee Zellweger still has all the breezy, perfectly timed appeal that she brought to the role the first time around. Now 43 and long parted from her beloved Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), Jones is a news producer whose anchor (a marvelous Sarah Solemani) insists that they go to a music festival and get Bridget the shagging she so very badly needs after spending yet another birthday alone. Her friends having all become stay at home moms and her fun friend Daniel (formerly played by Hugh Grant) now deceased, our heroine agrees, and it’s barely one day into the muddy fun before she finds herself in a yurt with a handsome American billionaire (Patrick Dempsey) and they jolly rodger each other into the morning. A few days later, she reconnects with Darcy at a christening and they also have some fun in a hotel room, which means that when Miss Jones buys a pregnancy test and it gives her positive results, she is immediately in a diary-worthy quandary: what to do about a baby, and how to figure out who its dad is. The journey from there is a delightful collection of sight gags and smart dialogue exchanges, even a few moments of genuine sweetness, and thanks to bringing the first film’s director Sharon Maguire back, it’s an experience that hearkens back fully to whatever you loved about it the first time around. Bridget’s winsome reaction to all embarrassing situations both big and small (she may blush but she’s never ashamed), is still her most hilarious quality, and Maguire always makes sure we laugh with her and not at her and, most unusual for a mainstream movie, never criticizes her for having enjoyed casual sex (imagine that). Emma Thompson contributes to the smart script and has a fantastic supporting role as an acerbic obstetrician, while Gemma Jones and Jim Broadbent are back as Jones’s exasperating and loving parents. Wading through the mire of bland romantic comedies is not an easy road, and this one’s conventional ending singes the fun a tiny bit, but take heart that bringing this franchise back was well worth the effort, as it positively sparkles.