Bridget and I have grown up together. Well, mostly. When I graduated college in 1999, the Bridget Jones movie was on the horizon. Sometime in 2000 or 2001 before the movie, while I struggled to find my way outside of college, I met Bridge.
Bridget is everything I’m not. I’m organized. She’s disorganized. I was an overachiever academically. Bridget was someone whose A levels got her a receptionist job. I’m an emotionally repressed person. She’s, well, emotional vomit in human being form. For all of the dissimilarities (I’m Mark Darcy), we had one major thing in common: not really knowing where we fit in.
Adrift after college, I was in a job that I hated and going to law school, which I also hated. I had met my now-husband. While my college grades were stellar, my law school grades staggered under the weight of full-time employment and night school in a subject I loathed. Bridget was everything I felt about being unsure of my place in the world.
Watching Bridget Jones’ Baby was like meeting up with the high-school friend who’s aged with you, but who hasn’t actually aged. Everything about the movie felt familiar to me. The characters. The frazzledness. The ridiculously unrealistic plots. I laughed at Bridget’s antics that were all the things that I fell in love with as a 21-year-old.
But, I’m not 21 years old anymore.
Neither is Bridget.
As a Bridget Jones fan? The movie hits every button I want it to nostalgically hit. I want to laugh at the meet cutes. I want to guffaw at the misunderstandings. I want to clap at the moments of ridiculousness.
And, if that’s what you want, then Bridget Jones’ Baby will be exactly the movie you want it to be. You can stop here, buy your ticket, and be a supremely happy person. Go forth and guffaw. I did. I laughed more at this movie than I have laughed at a movie in ages.
And yet… The thing I loved the most about this movie–that it consists entirely of a matured cast–is precisely the problem with the plot. Bridget is 43 and played by Zellweiger just as we remember her. At 33, this works. At 43, the trope is old. The problem is not by any means Zellweiger. In an industry that continually undermines mature characters by reinventing them as younger versions of themselves *cough Captain Marvel cough*, 43-year-old Bridget is exactly the age representation I want to see in movies.
However, a 43-year-old who acts like an immature 33-year-old undermines the reason that age representation matters in female roles. The plot, in several places, makes Bridget extremely unlikeable (to the point of detestable) based on her immature choices. What was cute when she was a groping-for-identity young woman is cloying in a woman who is presented as a successful career woman.
One of the main issues is that Bridget should have matured prior to the end of the movie. Her kerfuffles would still make sense as personality quirks without her continued dithering lack of confidence.
Bridget’s epiphanies come in waves, yet they also seem continually inconsequential in terms of character development. Because the epiphanies don’t stick from one scene to the next, Bridget as a character becomes not just unbelievable at times but unlikable.
Here’s the thing, though: I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t admit that I enjoyed this movie far more than I expected. Anyone in the theater heard my shrieks of laughter. I had the kind of physical, visceral response to some of the humor that I don’t remember having in ages. This was my Bridget Jones.
Here another the thing: I could argue that Bridget is basically a trope of the “dumb female.” And she totally is. Except that, she makes brave decisions in the movie. If we want to argue that the strong female character doesn’t have to be a punching, cursing, physical person? Bridget can be a role model for that in some ways. Even when she internally doubts herself, she fakes it til she makes it.
And you know what? That’s what a lot of us do every day. I fake it til I make it on a regular basis, harried, unsure, and sometimes just not entirely caring. That in itself is a strength, a kind we don’t get to see a lot in movies.
I could opine on the dumb girl trope, the lack of character development, the incontinuities, and the lack of imaginative plot line.
But, in the end? I kind of don’t want to. I want to enjoy the experience of hanging out with some old friends that I really loved spending a few hours with after a long separation.