Christmas movies are always happy, with a formula that leads protagonists through a learning curve until eventual happiness. Watching all three Bridget Jones' movies in a row, I learnt that this can be true even with three complete movies – you can still go from point A to point B three times over, during a period of 15 years, before finally ending at unparalleled and unimaginable bliss.
Let’s start with Bridget Jones's Diary, 2001
In the classic first instalment, the adaptation of the book is done well, bringing this lovable, funny and charming character to life. Renée Zellweger has the cute and vulnerable smile that makes you root for her immediately, especially when she is eating out of the hands of her attractive, womanising boss, Daniel Cleaver, played by Hugh Grant.
At the same time, her relationship with Mark Darcy, played by Pride and Prejudice Mr. Darcy himself, Colin Firth, deteriorates. The truth dawns eventually, and of course, we get our happy ending. What is impressive here is that the film does a wonderful job of adapting a popular book to screen. It is satisfying to see the two handsome male actors fight over Bridget, which ends with our heroine finding a man who can appreciate her for exactly who she is – a sweet, imperfect, relatable girl-next-door.
CUT TO: 2004 - Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
Next we see that Bridget is not quite happy with Mark. She starts off finding it difficult to believe her luck that she has landed a smart, handsome human rights lawyer, Mark Darcy, every mother’s dream son-in-law. This evolves into a chain of insecurities as she feels she is neither snooty nor polished enough to fit into his legal world, which leads to jealousy over his relationship with colleague Rebecca.
Moreover, she still feels icky about her looks, and is still not completely satisfied with her TV news job, and just unable to believe that things are like this for her and Mark. This leads to a series of bad decisions, with her ending up in Thailand with her ex-boss and lover, Daniel Cleaver, who plays with her affections again. In the nick of time, she stops herself, but then ends up in a Thai prison for unwittingly smuggling drugs.
It turns out that Mark is the one who tracks down the drug dealer and frees Bridget. In the end she asks him to take her back, and he proposes to her. Reaching another happy ending, she appears happy again, and sweet Renée Zellweger’s performance of the neurotic Bridget makes us want to see her always happy.
CUT TO: 2016 – Bridget Jones's Baby
Bridget is finally in an ideal place in her career as well as with her weight (a big topic of discussion for the tabloids obsessed with Zellweger’s body). Daniel Cleaver's storyline is put to rest at the movie's start, as Bridget attends his funeral – since caddish characters are so 2000, and the whole franchise has received a modern update. We quickly learn that she is no longer with Darcy, who is accompanied by his wife.
Bridget’s old friends are all busy with their babies and gaybies, but thankfully, she has the company of her new partner-in-crime at work, Melinda, presenter of her news show. Melinda drags Bridget to a music festival, where she meets the very handsome billionaire Jack Quant, played by “McDreamy” Patrick Dempsey, and has a spontaneous one-night stand with him, having decided to have fun despite being single.
Meanwhile, she returns to find that Darcy is getting divorced, and after a cute Romeo and Juliet re-enactment, they end up in bed together again.
Following several signs and being told by her friend that she possibly expired, dolphin-friendly condoms are not useful as a contraceptive, Bridget figures out that she might be pregnant. But she does not know who the father is…
Fans of the original Bridget Jones's Diary will be thrilled to see her, once again, sandwiched between two handsome brunette men, except that Jack is way more millennial-friendly, being a sensitive, new-age, American tech mogul who is caring and kind, a real upgrade from Daniel. Selfish man-boys are no longer in fashion in the way they were 10 years ago.
Colin Firth returns with his uptight portrayal of Darcy, who is the perfect humorous contrast to Jack. It is fun watching these two completely different men vying for Bridget’s affections and even more fun to watch them explain to everyone, from Bridget’s mother and doctor, to the pernatal class instructor, about the nature of this love triangle. The two men’s desire to be a father to the baby is also extremely adorable.
Initially sceptical about a third instalment of the Bridget Jones's Diary, the relevance of this 2016 version has made it my favourite of the three. Put them all together and you have the perfect ingredients for a holiday season, feel-good binge-fest.