Renee Zellweger is back in a so-so sequel

Film | by Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Bridget Jones’ Baby
Opens Friday 16

According to BBC film critic Mark Kermode, a comedy is successful if it passes the six-laughs test. By that metric, Bridget Jones’ Baby succeeds with flying colours. Just don’t think too much about the quality of the cackles or the plot, which makes no sense. A franchise that used to be a poignant dissection of a single woman’s life has become the movie equivalent of comfort food.

Set a decade after the events of Edge of Reason, we learn there wasn’t a happily ever after for Bridget (Renee Zellweger) and her on-again off-again beau, Mark Darcy (Colin Firth). They never married and eventually chose their careers over a life together. In an effort to get back on the horse, Bridget has, in close succession, a one-night stand with an Internet millionaire (Patrick Dempsey) and a down-on-the-dumps Darcy. Of course she ends up pregnant — and clueless about who the father is.

Bridget Jones’ Baby does a few smart things. The movie has little to do with the book that inspired it (which kills off Darcy and transforms the heroine into a cougar). It brings back the director of the first one, Sharon Maguire, and adds Emma Thomson as cast member and co-writer. The outcome is an improvement over the second film and at least ventures into uncharted territory (aging at the workplace, having a baby at 40) before returning to the franchise’s default settings. In fact, Bridget Jones’ Baby’s weakest moments are rehashing of previous chapters’ highlights.

The movie also marks the return to the big screen of Renee Zellweger after a six-year hiatus (more if you consider the terrible movies she was making towards the end). The actress remains a luminous presence, even when the material isn’t good enough for her.

Not sure if there’s demand for a Renee Zellweger-type in today’s cinema, but I hope there is. She’s still the only one who can hit the sweet spot between powerhouse and pathetic that makes her the perfect choice to play Bridget Jones.