The Father In 'Bridget Jones's Baby' Should Not Have Been Who It Turned Out To Be
Renée Zellweger's endlessly charming and relatable Bridget Jones finally returns to the big screen in Bridget Jones's Baby, and the film does not disappoint. As the title suggests, the story revolves around Bridget's baby — specifically, her unexpected pregnancy, and the two men who may be the father. Bridget has grown a lot since 2004's Edge of Reason, but overall, the movie is a great return to the adorably clumsy, hilarious character fans have known and loved for years. But I have one big problem with Bridget Jones's Baby: the fact that it (spoiler alert!) chooses to give Bridget a perfect, fairy tale ending, making the beloved story of Bridget Jones something it's not.
As a character, Bridget has always wanted a happy ending for her love life, but she's always been more capable, and more entertaining, when things don't go as planned — which is why I was disappointed that the film insisted on making her baby's dad the seemingly perfect choice, instead of relying on Bridget's ability to make a complicated situation work. And complicated it is; after a one night stand with a charming American, Jack (Patrick Dempsey), and another fling with old boyfriend Mark Darcy (Colin Firth), Bridget finds herself with child, with no definitive answer as to who the dad is, or who she even wants it to be. She and Mark have history, but Jack is a wealthy business mogul who is totally into Bridget and the idea of raising a baby with her. At the end of the movie, it's revealed that the daddy is Mark, but I personally really wanted it to end up being Jack. Making Mark the dad is just a little too perfect, and it robs Bridget of the chance to handle things in her typical Bridget way.
Sure, some fans might argue that Bridget has been through enough already and so she deserves the happy ending. But the way I see it, Bridget is relatable and lovable because she powers through complicated situations with humor, grace, and resilience. Just look at how she handles her pregnancy. Long before the father is named, Bridget considers having an amniocentesis, which would be able to nab some of the baby's DNA for a paternity test. But the risks freak Bridget out, so the trio continue on without knowing the truth, attending labor classes, making plans, and supporting Bridget as a three-person family. The development of their little unit is charming, and though it has its bumps and misunderstandings along the way, it is, overall, a positive experience for Bridget. The fact that none of them know who the father is makes for some great entertainment and plenty of the funny, messed-up scenarios Bridget fans have loved for years.
And for awhile, it seemed like that familiar, complicated world would continue for the rest of the movie. Over the course of the film, it becomes clear that Bridget is still in love with Mark. This becomes evident when, in the throes of childbirth, a pained Bridget reaches for Mark instead of Jack. "What if he isn't yours?" Bridget then asks Mark, wondering what he'll do when the results are in. "Then I'll love him anyway," Mark replies, and their couplehood is officially set. Soon, the movie flash forwards one year later to Mark and Bridget's wedding day. A handsome, tux-wearing Jack holds an adorable one-year-old up at the alter next to Mark, and it's implied that the baby is his. But that doesn't matter; Bridget married Mark because she loves him, regardless of whether or not he fathered her baby. For a moment, the movie's ending feels unconventional, complicated, and supremely interesting. That is, until Mark utters a line that goes something like, "Jack, what are you doing there with my son?", implying that the baby is actually his, and the moment is shattered.
It's not that I didn't want Bridget to end up with Mark, as I definitely wanted that. It's that I wanted the baby to turn out to be Jack's, because the final image of Bridget in a wedding dress walking down a grassy hill, holding her baby son and married to his father, is just too perfect. It's wrapped up in a neat little bow, a total fairy tale ending, and it so isn't Bridget Jones. Bridget's life has always been complicated, she's always had to work through rough things thrown her way. Nothing has ever come easy to her, but she's always handled it. The movie giving Bridget a too-perfect ending undermines what the character has been truly capable of, and known for, this whole time.
If Bridget had found out that Jack really was the baby's dad, but still knew that she loved and wanted to marry Mark, it would have created a whole new complicated, interesting set up for their family. Bridget and Mark would have been married and in love, parents to an adorable kid who also has a biological American father who loves him and is friends with his parents. Jack's character never became a villain, and he was very involved with the pregnancy, so having him stick around to be in Bridget and Mark's lives would have made plenty of sense. He'd have been a welcome character to the story, his presence creating a dynamic that's reflective of modern society's untraditional family structures. Imagine how cool it would have been if Mark had walked over to Jack and said, "Jack, what are you doing there with our son?"
Instead, the movie chose to wrap up Bridget Jones's story with a nuclear family. Bridget's life has never been a perfect package wrapped in a bow, so why not end it with the package a bit askew? Sure Bridget always liked the idea of perfect endings, but she was always so much better to watch when she didn't get one but made it work anyway.
Images: Universal Pictures (3)