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By Chaz Lipp

Breezily entertaining, the first Bridget Jones movie in 12 years (and third overall) coasts by on the appeal of its lighthearted premise. Returning to the fold 15 years after directing Bridget Jones’s Diary is Sharon Maguire (Beeban Kidron helmed 2004’s Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason). In Bridget Jones’s Baby, 43-year-old Bridget (Renée Zellweger, her first film since 2010) is mourning the untimely passing of Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant in the previous two films, not returning here for obvious reasons). Bridget is happy at last with her body image, happy with her job as a TV producer, and happy with her friendship with co-worker Miranda (Sarah Solemani). What’s she’s less satisfied with is her lack of a steady romantic companion.

bridget-joness-baby-patrick-dempseyA love triangle with a twist soon takes shape after Bridget hooks up with a random concertgoer at a music fest she attends with Miranda. Jack (Patrick Dempsey) is pretty much all she could ask for in a one night stand, but she quickly exits his yurt the next morning as he sleeps. After running into ex Mark Darcy (Colin Firth, also three-peating in the series) at both Daniel’s memorial service and the christening of friend Jude’s child, the pair also have a one night stand. Mark, soon to be divorced, expresses interest in having Bridget back in his life. She leaves him a note quashing those hopes before slipping away much like she did after the fling with Jack.

bridget-joness-baby-colin-firthBlame it on eco-friendly condoms. As the title makes plan, Bridget finds herself pregnant (a “geriatric mother” as her ob/gyn calls her). Either Jack or Mark could be the father—the whole story hinges on the notion that Bridget doesn’t want to know for fear of breaking one or the other’s heart (well, that and she’s scared of the risks of an amniocentesis). This is exceedingly superficial stuff but the farcical elements, as Bridget tries keep each man from finding out that she doesn’t know who’s the father, keep it afloat. Emma Thompson (who co-scripted) is on hand as the exasperated ob/gyn who attempts to keep up Bridget’s ruse.

Zellweger’s comic timing is still spot on as she trots out Bridget’s neuroses for the third time. After all the unnecessary “controversy” over the actress’ eye lift following her prolonged absence from the big screen, it’s a welcome return. Firth remains as effectively dry as ever, while Dempsey makes for a charming, self-confident ersatz Grant. Kate O’Flynn is funny as Bridget’s pretentious, much younger new boss (perpetually flanked by several equally young, hipster assistants sporting “ironic beards”). And, unlikely as it may seem, a surprise development at the end leaves the door open for another chapter.

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Bridget Jones’s Baby Images: Universal Pictures

Chaz Lipp

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