Bridget is back - older, slimmer, but with the same pep and impeccable comedic timing. The gang have all returned with her, with the exception of Hugh Grant and the excellent addition of Sarah Solemani. Sharon Maguire has returned as director and Helen Fielding as writer, along with Dan Mazer and Emma Thompson, who also features as Bridget's waspish doctor. So far, so 90's.
In many ways, this film is business as usual - smutty jokes, physical comedy, Bridget cocking things up in a lovable way. But the franchise has been neatly updated. Now all Bridget's friends have kids, there is no beef with smug marrieds - Bridget's antagonists are a gang of man-bunned hipsters determined to over-run her news show with videos of cats that look like Hitler. New technology offers myriad ways for Bridget to get into scrapes, and an extended cameo from Ed Sheeran is played delightfully.
Colin Firth is adorably buttoned up as as ever in his role as Mark Darcy, conveying real depth of feeling with every strangulated word. Daniel Cleaver's space in the plot is filled by Patrick Dempsey playing Jack, a cocky American billionaire. Jack is a sweet bloke - all flowers and supportiveness of Bridget's predicament. This creates a slightly weird dynamic between the two men - they are both the good guy. No fight scene in a pond in this film. And I'm really not sure whether to praise the film's more nuanced look at masculinity under pressure and development of a male relationship beyond just 'enemies', or whine about how a more pronounced rivalry could have really spiced up the middle section.
In the end, it is clear that the relationship Bridget really has to sort out is that with her unborn baby, and with herself. This is a film where actually, Bridget doesn't really need saving so much - gone are the pining and the endless phone calls to friends. This Bridget puts on House of Pain and jumps around when she's sad. Renee Zellweger plays this slightly more grown up Bridget with humour, warmth and aplomb, proudly strutting around a TV studio and falling face first into a sea of mud with equal gusto. It was a bit of a shame to see Bridget as a size 6 (especially in a film about her pregnancy) but it's hard to begrudge Zellwegger not wanting to put her body through a gruelling weight gain and loss cycle again.
Apparently, they filmed three separate endings. I didn't get the one I wanted - I was looking for something maybe a little bit more interesting. But this is a minor gripe in what was otherwise a triumphant return to form. Bridget Jones is as funny and lovable as ever.