This is a Public Service Announcement, courtesy of Bridget Jones: yes, they really do. Particularly when it comes to condoms. Everyone’s favourite single woman finds herself pregnant at forty, with two men who could possibly be the father. One is her erstwhile love, Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), who Bridget has broken up with since last we saw her in 2004. The other is a dishy American (Patrick Dempsey), whose affectionate good nature provides Darcy with real competition – and Bridget with some serious confusion.
The return of Bridget Jones’s Diary helmer Sharon Maguire as director has a palpably effervescent effect on the material. Eschewing the shark-jumping antics of Beeban Kidron’s Bridget Jones: The Edge Of Reason, this installment focuses on Bridget’s endearingly klutzy personality.
Maguire plays to her cast’s strengths and their impressive gamesmanship when it comes to slapstick and farce. Madcap dashes to the hospital, awkward attempts at glamping and, of course, Bridget’s unique brand of courtship are all elevated into joyful and unapologetically broad set-pieces. Though fuelled by farce, they are elevated by the bottomless well of empathy Zellweger naturally exudes.
The actress’s performance is all the more empowering due to the misogynistic press that has recently surrounded her. Given that Colin Firth’s latest onscreen love interest was Emma Stone, 28 years his junior, seeing age-appropriate romantic pairings is refreshing. Similarly effective is seeing Bridget grappling with her increasingly tech-heavy and youth-oriented workplace, lending the film an unexpectedly contemplative tone.
Co-writer Emma Thompson and Sarah Solmani prove scene-stealing as Bridget’s dry doctor and bawdy show presenter, respectively. But overall, this is all about good ol’ Bridget, and you can’t help but love her.