This is the year of the Longtime Coming Sequel.
Last March, some 14 years after “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” we got “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.”
A month later, a dozen years past “Barbershop 2: Back in Business,” along came “Barbershop: The Next Cut.”
In both cases: What a treat. I loved reuniting with those two beloved extended families from different parts of Chicago.
Now, 15 years since the delightful “Bridget Jones’s Diary” and a dozen years after the sour “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason,” the delivery of “Bridget Jones’s Baby” is upon us.
I strongly urge you to celebrate this by renting the “Greek Wedding” and “Barbershop” sequels, or at the very least to avoid even thinking the words “Bridget Jones’s Baby” as you order your tickets online or you approach the ticket counter this weekend.
Some might say this movie is cinematic comfort food: Of course you know what you’re getting, and while it might not be great for you, it provides some instant gratification and it leaves you feeling warm inside, at least for a while.
I found the experience more akin to taking a chance on that carton of food WAY in the back of your refrigerator — only to quickly realize your suspicions were right and you’ve just ingested something lousy and well past its “Sell By” date.
Even as a fairy tale, this is a joke. (But not a funny one.) “Bridget Jones’s Baby” is so predictable and so cloying and so insulting to the audience, from the plot “twists” to the editing choices to the iTunes playlist soundtrack to the misunderstandings so clichéd it feels as if they were lifted from a 1980s sitcom, it’s a wonder all parties involved didn’t just shrug their shoulders and walk off the set in defeat halfway through the movie.
The alleged comedy in “Bridget Jones’s Baby” is hideously obvious.
Let’s start with Bridget’s 43rd birthday. She’s alone again, as her on-again, off-again, 10-year romance with Colin Firth’s Mark Darcy is permanently off. As Bridget (Renee Zellweger) narrates her tale of woe, “All by Myself” gives way to …”Insane in the Membrane” by Cypress Hill, and yes, Bridget dances around her apartment while lip-syncing. Cringe.
And how do Bridget’s office mates celebrate her 43rd birthday? By greeting her with signs saying, “HAPPY 43RD BIRTHDAY!,” a cake with 43 candles, and singing, “Happy 43rd birthday to you, happy 43rd birthday to you…”
About that job: Bridget is a TV producer for a live news show. Of all the cinematic depictions of television news shows, this is one of the stupidest and most ridiculous. Also, Bridget is really, really, TRULY horrible at her job — which isn’t funny at all. It just makes her seem like a fool who doesn’t care.
Ah, but what about romance?
Patrick Dempsey plays Jack, the billionaire founder of a dating website that claims one can use algorithms to determine the perfect match. (The website looks like something that was created in 1999.) Bridget and Jack hook up at an outdoor music festival supposedly populated by tens of thousands, but the way it’s filmed, with about 150 overacting extras in the background, is just embarrassing.
Even though Jack is a world famous billionaire, he seems to have no friends and no security team, and he talks of spending his days living in hotel rooms and airport lounges. Gee, you’d think Jack would have, you know, a private jet and giant houses.
Shortly after trysting with Jack, Bridget sleeps with her old flame Mark Darcy, who is married but tells Bridget he’s going through a divorce.
A couple of months later, Bridget learns she’s pregnant. Who’s the father? Who will win her heart? How will she balance her career and her pregnancy?
“Bridget Jones’s Baby” tackles these questions, and many more, in astonishingly inept fashion.
From start to finish, this film seems strangely out of touch, never more so than when it tries to come across as enlightened. (The gay jokes, the Italian stereotypes and the all-Asians-look-alike gag really don’t help the cause.)
Whatever is next for Bridget Jones, might I suggest the working title of “Bridget Jones’s Never Filmed Adventures.”
Universal Pictures presents a film directed by Sharon Maguire and written by Helen Fielding, Emma Thompson and Dan Mazer. Running time: 123 minutes. Rated R (for language, sex references and some nudity). Opens Friday at local theaters.