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ADAM GRAHAM

Review: Zellweger, ‘Bridget Jones’ make welcome return

It’s been six years since Renee Zellweger has starred in a movie, but it’s good to have both her and Bridget Jones back

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Welcome back, Bridget Jones.

“Bridget Jones’s Baby” marks the refreshing return of the lovably fumbling Brit, last seen on screen a dozen years ago in 2004’s “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason.”

It also marks the big screen comeback of star Renee Zellweger, who took six years off from the movies to focus on life outside of Hollywood.

Few stars make the decision to walk away the way Zellweger did, and the time away works to the benefit of Zellweger and her character. She looks revitalized and real and ready to be back.

It’s almost as if Zellweger went full method and locked herself away for the sake of the new movie’s opening scene, where Jones is sitting alone in her flat, a birthday cupcake in front of her, while Eric Carmen’s “All By Myself” blares on her stereo.

“How in the hell did I end up here again?” she asks. It’s a perfect Bridget Jones moment, wallowing in her own self-pity, and she immediately snaps out of it by switching the stereo to House of Pain’s “Jump Around” and bopping around her apartment.

To be sure, no one needs to hear “Jump Around” again, and if the song were to go into semi-retirement the way Zellweger did, no one would complain. But the scene is a delight, dorky and adorable, which is a testament to how much we’ve missed Zellweger and Jones.

Now 43, Jones is still single, and is stinging from her split with Mark Darcy (Colin Firth). She runs into him at the funeral of her playboy ex-boyfriend, Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant), and though she still has feelings for Darcy, she decides to move forward.

Jones soon finds herself at a music festival — Ed Sheeran earns an extended cameo — where she meets Jack Qwant (Patrick Dempsey) and winds up sleeping with him in his glam camping set-up.

Later, sparks fly when she runs into Darcy, and, they too, end up in bed together. Flash forward a couple of weeks and, well, the movie’s title sort of gives away where this is all headed. Jones isn’t sure who the father is, a classic rom-com pickle that won’t win any originality points but is just fine for the purposes here.

Sure, “Bridget Jones’s Baby” hits on familiar beats, but it has enough wit and laughs to help overcome the familiarity. Emma Thompson adds some pizzazz as Jones’ obstetrician, who lightly scolds Jones for the absurdity of her situation but helps her keep up the ruse that either man could be the father. (Thompson also wrote the screenplay, along with Dan Mazer and Helen Fielding.)

At times the script strains to keep Darcy interested in the process; you’d think he wouldn’t put himself through all the hoops with Qwant hanging around. And Qwant, the billionaire inventor of a dating app that looks like it uses 1998’s best technology, seems a bit too earthbound given his station in life. (He’s believable as a millionaire, but not a billionaire.)

Yet it works because Zellweger makes it work, and director Sharon Maguire, who directed the first “Bridget Jones’s Diary” in 2001, provides a warmth and comfort that elevates it beyond its sitcom scenarios. Zellweger has zip and she wears her character well, and there’s still gas left in the tank, which is rare for a three-quel.

How did we end up here again? Who knows, but it’s a pretty good place to be.

agraham@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2284

Twitter: @grahamorama

‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’

GRADE: B

Rated R for language, sex references and some nudity

Running time: 123 minutes