In one of the wryest scenes in Bridget Jones’s Baby, the third movie in the Jones saga, Bridget (Renee Zellweger), now 43 and pregnant out of wedlock, is briefly outraged when a coworker describes her as a soon-to-be MILF.
“I’m not a MILF!” she counters. “I’m a spinster. I’m a SPILF.”
Bridget’s championing of the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to be comfortably ensconced in functional relationships has been the key to the character’s appeal ever since she debuted as the fictional narrator of Helen Fielding’s Independent columns in 1995. It was Bridget who coined the terms “singleton” and “smug marrieds.” Who alternated between Chardonnay and Gloria Gaynor-fueled roars of female empowerment and yelps of loneliness, revolutionizing singledom by portraying it fairly accurately, for once. While Bridget’s various happy endings always seemed inevitable, her willingness to poke fun at her own vulnerabilities—to own her imperfections while acknowledging that she’s worthy of being loved—made her one of the most endearing heroines of the past few decades.
After a 12-year gap between movies, Bridget is back in Bridget Jones’s Baby, a film that wisely skips over the last Fielding book (2013’s Mad About the Boy) and instead bases itself on a storyline last seen in column form: Bridget is pregnant, and she’s not sure which one of two men is the father. The hokeyness of the premise, coupled with the fact that it hasn’t been an outstanding year at the multiplex for existing franchises, was enough to hint that a new movie might be a very bad idea indeed. Who knew Bridget’s return could be so glorious?