In a world–particularly a British-portrayed one (see: Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie)–where it’s increasingly acceptable to get your shit together later on in life, it makes perfect sense that Bridget Jones’ Diary director Sharon Maguire (who didn’t have anything to do with that rather terrible sequel, mind you) would wait until fifteen years later to wrap up Bridget’s (Renee Zellweger) story.
With the screenplay jointly penned by Helen Fielding (the original creator of the Bridget Jones novels), Dan Mazer and Emma Thompson–yes, the Emma Thompson–the final installment of the trilogy (though a “surprise” ending does technically leave room for a fourth) is, at long last, given the slow build it needs to reach a natural-feeling conclusion (or at least as natural as any rom-com can feel these days).
Starting on Bridget’s forty-third birthday–May 9th, making her, appropriately, a Taurus, for those rightly interested in the zodiac–we’re given a glimpse into her life as it is now: largely unchanged from when she celebrated her thirty-second birthday in Bridget Jones’ Diary (at that time, the date was in November). That said, listening to Celine Dion’s “All By Myself” is, of course, in order. Until she decides, yet again, to take charge and turn over a new leaf, changing the song to House of Pain’s “Jump Around.” She then packs her suitcase to take up her friend and co-worker at Hard News (she is the producer to her anchorwoman), Miranda (Sarah Solemani), on the offer to join her for a spa weekend.
Unfortunately (or rather, fortunately), Bridget doesn’t realize she’s been duped into going to a music festival headlined by Ed Sheeran (perhaps the worst part about the movie). Miranda’s motive for bringing her to this specific location? She needs to have sex with the first man who talks to her. This so happens to be Jack Qwant (Patrick Dempsey), an attractive bachelor who enjoys fulfilling women’s Cinderella fantasies by putting her heel back on after fishing her out of the mud she’s slipped into. Instead of trying to play into the meet-cute, Bridget hurries back over to Miranda, and the two commence their day drinking–in part so Bridget can ignore what Miranda calls “glamping” not camping. Bridget retorts, “Adding a ‘gl’ to it doesn’t make it any better. It’s not like calling him ‘Gladolf Hitler’ is going to make you forget all the horrible things he did.”
As the two get progressively less coherent, even going so far as to snub Ed Sheeran, Bridget becomes increasingly prone to making the mistake of entering the wrong tent, which she, predictably, does. And whose is it but Jack’s? At first playing the blushing bride, Bridget, already half-undressed, gives in to Jack’s seduction, then flees the scene the second the morning light hits. Assuming this is how festival hookups work, Bridget would rather spare herself the awkwardness rather than stick around to endure Jack’s post-coital persona. And, speaking of awkwardness, she now has to see Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) for the second time in a week (the first being at Daniel Cleaver’s [Hugh Grant] laugh-a-minute funeral–though his body wasn’t retrieved from the plane he was flying). Ashamed at having to be the “spinster-for-hire” godmother at Jude’s (Shirley Henderson) daughter’s christening, Bridget fears having to see Darcy with his wife, Camilla (Agni Scott), again. Called upon at the last minute to act as godfather by Jude’s husband, both Mark and Bridget are rather weirded out by one another’s presence after having so long ago broken up (five years prior due primarily to Mark’s workaholic tendencies).
But when Mark expresses his interest in Bridget by kissing her at the reception and confessing he’s getting a divorce, it’s difficult to let old habits die. The next morning, however, Bridget pulls a similar stunt to the one she did with Jack, explaining that she mostly feels alone when she’s with him anyway. As she goes about the next three months trying to lose weight like usual, her friend, Shazza (Sally Phillips), suggests that maybe what’s preventing her from doing so is being pregnant. Miranda furnishes Bridget with a pregnancy test at work, which immediately informs her of the positive results. Fittingly, Miranda proffers that using an expired eco-friendly condom twice means Bridget subconsciously wanted it to happen.
Turning to her OBGYN, Dr. Rawlings (Emma Thompson), for some sort of guidance, or at least comfort, about how to approach the two potential fathers, Rawlings merely notes that, at forty-three, Bridget is a geriatric mother. Thus, Bridget must figure out her own method for informing each of her potential suitors–honestly, she really is a true pimp.
But rather than deal with the unpleasantness of such things, Bridget ends up letting each one court her with their own unique forms of game. For Jack, insisting on their compatibility based on his algorithmic book and website, Qwantum Leap, is paired with general pandering. Mark, on the other hand, is his usual stodgy self in between defending a Russian band called Poonani (based blatantly on Pussy Riot) and withholding all signs of emotion and helpfulness during Bridget’s prenatal classes.
The usual issues between Mark and Bridget arise, inciting her to feel as though maybe Jack would be the better choice for her in the long run as his fun-loving nature and robust bank account would work quite well for her needs. Even so, algorithms are rarely translatable to real life.
Is Bridget Jones’ Baby necessary? Shockingly, yes. Is it a little too long and a little too ridiculous? Of course. But it’s just the palette cleanser needed to forget all about Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, which for all its wealth of Madonna songs, was as undesirable as a 43-year-old single woman (at least those sans Demi Moore’s physique).