As a woman who is child-free by choice, I doubt our paths will ever cross. Professionally, at least—I decided long ago that my ovaries would just be for show. I suppose I view motherhood the same way I view the Bridget Jones series: some women seem to enjoy it but I just don’t understand what all the fuss is about.
Look, I don’t want to take a big preachy dump all over a woman’s choice to have a baby just because it’s not something that interests me. But watching a movie where the entire premise is predicated on which handsome, wealthy man might be the father of a child being carried by an attractive yet clumsy (always clumsy) and maddeningly indecisive woman was as excruciating to me as fifteen hours of contractions. True, I don’t know what contractions feel like. But if they’re even half as painful to experience as this movie, I have a renewed respect for mothers across the world.
In the third and final (please be final) film based on Helen Fielding’s popular Bridget Jones book series, we find our heroine in need of a good shagging. Sure, her career as a news producer is going well, and she has many strong friendships, but what she really needs is a stiff willy, or better yet, a child to complete her. Her sexual drought comes to an end in one weekend where she ends up in the yurt of Jack, a ruggedly sexy American, and in the arms of her will-they-won’t-they ex, Mark Darcy. When she finds out she’s “up the duff”, she has to tell both men that they might be the father of her baby.
This movie isn’t my cup of tea, but I do appreciate that many people love this character, so it hardly seems fair for me to rip this film to shreds. But it is. Because it’s crap. To my surprise, I actually liked the first film, Bridget Jones Diary, (but not enough to bother watching the second film). In 2001, Bridget was the kind of character we rarely got to see: chubby, unstyled, charmingly insecure, and trying to get her shit together while staring down the business end of 30. Now, she’s a beautiful 43 year old woman dithering yet again over two hot guys who, despite her myriad flaws, think she hung the moon.
I suppose a lot of this film’s appeal is in its heteronormative wish-fulfillment. It’s a retrograde fantasy so rife with stereotypes that I kind of want to join in the fun! Here goes: was this movie focus-grouped by a gaggle of white women in chunky-knit scarves that the studio found sipping pumpkin spice lattes after a particularly intense barre class? Because it’s straight up Basic Bitch porn. Bridget meets Jack (a billionaire, natch) after falling face-first into a mud-pile at a Glastonbury-type festival, where he helps her on with her shoe a la Cinderella, and when Jack and Mark accompany Bridget to pre-natal classes they are presumed to be a same-sex couple with their surrogate (cue the gay jokes!), then Jack shows up to woo Bridget with flowers, dessert, a stuffed animal, and Ikea furniture to assemble together as a couple. And in case you were worried that Bridget found herself in the family way due to unprotected sex, fear not, she merely used faulty eco-friendly vegan condoms! Oh, Bridget! You loveable dipshit, you!
I’m not exactly sure how much responsibility you had in bringing this film to term, but I wish someone would have spoken to the filmmakers about their, ahem, options. Sure, maybe most people will see it as a mildly entertaining couple of hours, but it actually angered me in the same way Grudge Match angered me. It left me wondering who exactly these movies are for. Both films celebrate one-dimensional, gender-stereotypes that are borderline harmful when reinforced with such unrepentant, big-budget glee. Poor Patrick Dempsey, whose surfeit of chemistry with Renee Zellweger’s Bridget was matched only by the flimsiness of his character. So much so that I actually had to google his character’s name because I’d forgotten it. This despite the fact that every marketing ad I’ve seen for the film proudly proclaims “Are you Team Jack or Team Darcy?” (because there can only be two choices, between two almost identical upper-class white men). The option that Bridget might raise the child alone (or, gasp, consider an abortion) isn’t even on the table.
The other possible sperm-donor, played by poor Colin Firth, whose expressions range from moderately aggrieved to fifth consecutive day of constipation, was the only character for which I had any sort of passing pity. His sidebar plot involves his character, a human rights lawyer, defending a Pussy Riot-esque protest band. As Bridget watches him from the courtroom gallery and muses “I forgot how hot he was in that wig and gown,” I felt compelled to bare my chest and shout “Free Mark Darcy!” A protest in support of the band erupts, snaring traffic just as Bridget goes into labour, and Jack and Mark take turns carrying her to the hospital. A joke is made of how difficult it was getting to the hospital because of the protest; Mark weakly mutters, “it’s actually quite a significant victory for human rights.” Those damn meddling feminists are always getting in the way of Bridget’s fun! I’d congratulate the writers for their wry humour here but I’m afraid any irony in this film would be just like Bridget’s pregnancy: purely accidental.
You of all people are aware of the kind of complications an older woman can face while pregnant. You’d think after so many times around the block with the same character, the filmmakers would have been able to take the necessary precautions to ensure that this film was as healthy as it could be. Instead they played it safe with banal music choices (We Are Family during the neo-natal class montage—brill!), clunky art direction, and stale dialogue that even Emma Thompson couldn’t save. By the end it wasn’t clear which unfortunate man would be stuck raising this kid with Bridget, and frankly I didn’t care. My one regret is that I didn’t ask for an epidural before this whole bloody mess got started.
Breathing Through the Pain,