How is the new Bridget Jones movie? Just good enough to satisfy its target audience. Fifteen years after the original hit movie, Renée Zellweger is back as the self-deprecating diarist created by Helen Fielding in her best-selling book. Hugh Grant, who costarred in Bridget Jones’s Diary and its 2004 sequel Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, is absent here. This time around the single television producer finds herself torn between series returnee Colin Firth, impeccable as ever as an emotionally reserved barrister, and an American entrepreneur, played with charm and verve by Patrick Dempsey. One of them, in fact, becomes the father of her unexpected bundle of joy.

Emma Thompson-Renee Zelleger

(Photo by Giles Keyte – Courtesy of Universal Studios)

The film is handsomely mounted and the actors are likable, but this is strictly formula stuff, hardly worthy of two hours’ running time. It’s always nice to see such reliable performers as Gemma Jones and Jim Broadbent (returning as Bridget’s mother and father), and Emma Thompson has written herself an amusing role as a wry ob-gyn. They and their talented colleagues barely break a sweat dealing with this material.

Sharon Maguire, who helmed the original Bridget Jones’ Diary in 2001, knows how to stage the farcical incidents that punctuate the drawn-out screenplay credited to Fielding, Thompson, and Dan Mazer. (Bridget falls face-first into a mud puddle, gets soaked in a rainstorm, etc.) But surely someone could have shown more originality in selecting source music: Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore” cues a scene in an Italian restaurant and “Sleigh Ride” lets us know it’s Christmastime.


Photo by Giles Keyte – Courtesy of Universal Studios)

That would take more effort than anyone seems to have wanted to expend on such an unambitious and innocuous comedy; it’s the liberal use of the f-word that earns the film an R rating. Bridget Jones’s Baby will almost certainly appeal to its stalwart fan base but isn’t likely to win over any converts.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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February 2024