Where has Renée Zellweger been? From her breakthrough in “Jerry Maguire” to “My Own Love Song” in she was a fixture on the big screen, making twenty-five movies in fifteen years. Then, in 2010, she disappeared from view.
Zellweger is back this weekend in a big way. “Bridget Jones’s Baby” sees her return to her signature role twelve years after starring in the second instalment of the series, “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.”
Released on the 20th Anniversary of the first Bridget Jones novel, the new film has Bridget pregnant but unsure whether the father is her true love Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) or Jack (Patrick Dempsey), a handsome, rich American, she had a one night stand with at a music festival. “This is it!” exclaims the forty-three soon-to-be-mom. “More to the point who’s is it?” The happy trio work through nine months of questions and prenatal classes before the bundle of joy arrives and Bridget’s question can be answered definitively.
The six year vacation has not loosened Zellweger’s grip of her most famous character. She slips back into Jones’s skin and it’s a welcome return. The things that made Bridget lovable in the first place are in place—like the self-depreciating humour—but they are tempered by a contentment, more or less, with her life. The search for Prince Charming continues, but her attitude toward men and their place in her life has developed since we saw her last. Make no mistake, this is a rom com, but, largely due to Zellweger’s charming performance, the emphasis is on the comedy and not so much the romance.
It’s a screwball comedy that relies on coincidences puns, double entendres, slapstick and likable characters for its appeal. Light and breezy, it’s “Sex and the City” with English accents and without the cynicism. Dempsey and Firth are polar opposites, the yin and yang of Bridget’s life, and both bring some funny moments and are good foils for Zellweger. Better yet is Emma Thompson, who also wrote the script, as Bridget’s snarky paediatrician. She pops in and out of the movie, leaving laughs in her wake.
By the time the end credits roll “Bridget Jones’s Baby” begins to feel just a tad over long. It tilts too often toward the corny and crowd pleasing, but, having said that, it’s nice to see the franchise allow Bridget to love herself for a change. Ultimately (AND THIS IS NOT A SPOILER) it doesn’t matter who the father is. The underlying message is one of girl power and empowerment. Bridget Jones has come a long way, baby.
Remember My Best Friend’s Wedding? Julia Roberts played Julianne, a woman who realizes she is deeply in love with her best friend Michael (Dermot Mulroney) after he announces that he is to be married to another woman. Play switcheroo with the gender, update the wardrobe, add in the Highland Games and you have Made of Honor, the latest film from Grey’s Anatomy actor Patrick Dempsey.
Made of Honor may not have originality on its side but it does provide a few laughs and some beautiful scenery.
In this topsy-turvy reexamination of My Best Friend’s Wedding Dempsey is Tom, the kind of rich playboy who only exists in rom coms. He’s a unrepentant womanizer, wealthy beyond belief and always seems to be able to find a parking spot on the busiest of Manhattan streets. His best friend is Hannah (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’s Michelle Monaghan) is the Ginger to his Fred, the AC to his DC. They’re able to stay friends because they have no romantic bond.
That is until Hannah travels to Scotland on a six week business trip. Absence makes Tom’s heart grow fonder, and he decides to ask her to marry him as soon as she hits the tarmac back in the States. There’s only one problem, she returns from her trip with a fiancée in tow and plans to move to Scotland with her newly found and wealthy mate. Fearing he is about to lose the love of his life, Tom, who has accepted Hannah’s invitation to be her maid of honor, tries to derail the wedding and win Hannah’s hand.
Made of Honor has all the usual romantic comedy ingredients—the prerequisite New York setting, madcap misunderstandings, the big moment of realization that person A can’t possibly live without person B and some beautiful exotic scenery. We’ve seen it all before in countless other movies, but Made of Honor pulls it all together in, not exactly a memorable way, but at least in a frothy enough way to make the audience I saw it with ooh and ah and make the appropriate romantic comedy cooing sounds during the screening.
Much of the success of the film has to do with Patrick Dempsey who seems born to star in these kinds of confections. He’s good looking, has a way with comedy and doesn’t mind doing a pratfall or two. Co-star Monaghan isn’t given much to do other than to react to Dempsey’s antics, but she is a presence and the camera loves her.
Made of Honor is an amiable, but ultimately forgettable rom com that relies just a bit too heavily on the conventions of the genre.