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Bridget Jones’ Baby

Blair Witch

September 15, 2016

Bridget Jones’s Baby (***)  Rated R

Regarding the third and latest in the series of screen adaptations based on author Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones character, what I can’t tell you is how it stacks up against the last entry from twelve years ago, Bridget Jones: Edge of Reason. That film, also co-scripted by Fielding, was not highly acclaimed by either fans of the first film or the series of books. I opted to skip it in the hopes of retaining my pleasant memories of the first film from fifteen (!) years ago, Bridget Jones’s Diary.

What I can tell you is that, in comparison to the original film, the latest entry Bridget Jones’s Baby is nearly on a par in terms of quality. Hopefully, it will restore pleasant memories to those who are still reeling from the bad vibes of the last film. It may not be groundbreaking cinema but it’s loads of fun. I don’t think that anyone who missed the last film in the series will have a problem catching up with what’s happened to Bridget (Renee Zellweger, charming as ever in the role) since the initial entry.

This film opens in much the same manner as the first time we met Bridget all those years ago, a sort of callback, if you will. Back then Bridget was in her early thirties, single and desperate for romance and the film opened with her serenading herself to the strains of All By Myself.

Colin Firth, Zellweger and Patrick Dempsey in ‘Baby’

The first time we see her here, she’s single again, in her early forties and still serenading herself all alone in her apartment having finally given up on making it work with her on again-off again suitor, Mark Darcy (Colin Firth). The only difference being that the song has changed to House of Pain’s hit from the early 90s, Jump Around instead of the aforementioned soft rock hit from the mid 70s. 

Thankfully, Bridget’s career as a TV producer is going well. That is until the station she works for is sold and she winds up under the thumb of an anal retentive boss. On a whim, Bridget opts to head out for a weekend to take in a music festival and winds up getting a bit close and personal with the renowned owner of a dating website (Patrick Dempsey). Not long after, Bridget reconnects with Mark, only to then find out a short time later that she’s pregnant.

Bridget’s quest to determine who the father is makes up a good chunk of the plot and, of course, creates many comedic situations which serve as a springboard to some fairly enjoyable gags. If there is a complaint to make about the film, it would be that it does tend to veer towards over length. At 123 minutes, it would have benefitted the film to lose about fifteen minutes or so. Still, this Bridget Jones has enough good moments that it’s easy to forgive the film for its transgressions. It’s good to see a new entry in this series that’s actually worth watching if they insist on keeping it going.          

Blair Witch (**) Rated R

Being that the original Blair Witch Project from 1999 was one of the most successful independent films of all time, it’s a surprise that only one sequel was spawned from that first film in the intervening years. That was back in 2000 and the resulting film, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, was about as shabby a film sequel as one could have imagined. Whereas the original film was one of the first in the ‘found footage’ genre, the sequel was a straight narrative film, albeit not a good one. 

Seventeen years later, director Adam Wingard (You’re Next) has returned to the world of the first film by crafting another found footage entry that serves as a sequel to the original. How much you enjoy it may depend on your affection for the original Blair Witch. Since I felt that the initial film was one long buildup that only became interesting during its final ten minutes, that may explain why the latest attempt to rehash the legend of the Blair Witch onscreen didn’t quite work for me.

For one thing, the film requires a major suspension of disbelief. In the original film we were asked to believe that the entire movie was taken from video footage found in cameras after the characters disappeared, apparently as a result of the Blair Witch. That wasn’t too much of stretch. However, in this film, we are asked to believe that dozens of video cards, strewn across the woods, were found which is somewhat akin to finding a needle in a haystack. At any rate, the premise is a shaky one at best.

Valorie Curry in Blair Witch

The film basically revolves around the emotionally scarred brother of the female character, Heather, from the first film, who’s on a quest to find his sister. If you’ve seen the film you’ll recall she’s the one who wandered around in the woods for weeks with nothing to eat but never seemed to lose a pound? Here, the brother recruits a rag tag group to help find his sister but, of course, things eventually take one bizarre turn after another as expected.

Much like the first Blair Witch film, nothing much happens here until nearly an hour in and by that time the patience of the viewer will either sustain or send one bolting for the exit door. The last twenty minutes of the film are basically one long shaky cam sequence that is sure to inflict a case of motion sickness even the strongest dose of medicine can’t prevent. 

Basically, the latest Blair Witch is just one uninspired sequel that will stir fond memories in some and boredom in others. I’m in the latter camp.

Both Bridget and Blair open Thursday, September 15, at the Carmike in Hickory.

Questions or comments? Write Adam at filmfan1970@hotmail.com.

 

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