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Film review: Bridget Jones’s Baby – Renée Zellweger returns for laboured sequel

Hugh Grant’s Daniel Cleaver is sorely missed in lumbering third film featuring Helen Fielding’s frumpy, self-conscious heroine, with Patrick Dempsey a poor substitute. Emma Thompson has a star turn as Bridget’s doctor

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 September, 2016, 7:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 September, 2016, 7:00am

2 stars

After the huge success of Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) and its follow-up The Edge of Reason (2004), Helen Fielding’s wine-quaffing heroine returns for a belated third go-around. But this long-gestating follow-up to Fielding’s playful update of Pride and Prejudice ignores her third novel completely, instead gifting Bridget with an accidental pregnancy.

When Bridget (Renée Zellweger) finds herself still single on her 43rd birthday, she embarks on an enthusiastic spree of one-night-stands, only to emerge pregnant yet uncertain whether the father is perennial crush Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) or charismatic billionaire Jack Quant (Patrick Dempsey).

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It’s laudable how little judgement is directed at Bridget and her predicament. Those around her seem more relieved than concerned, despite the absence of a supportive partner. Once Bridget delivers the news to both potential fathers, Darcy and Quant both seem enthusiastically on board, rather than lawyering up and demanding a paternity test.

What follows is two hours of Bridget flustering her way around affluent London boroughs, and the TV studio where she works, with endearing incompetence. Zellweger slips back into Bridget’s frumpy, self-conscious shoes with surprisingly little effort and, when the script allows, shows some of the charm that won her a deserved Oscar nomination back in 2002.

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Following disagreements over an earlier incarnation of the script, Hugh Grant’s Daniel Cleaver is brutally written out of the film, and Dempsey’s affable dotcom geek proves a poor substitute. Emma Thompson, on the other hand, steals every scene she’s given as Bridget’s unfazed, no-nonsense doctor (her script credit also suggests Thompson may have punched up her lines too).

But these moments prove all too rare, scattered as they are through a baggy, laboured rehash that, at 123 minutes, lumbers on for an eternity.

Bridget Jones is back with a bump. Is the old chemistry there?

Bridget Jones’s Baby opens on September 15

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