By Jessica Derschowitz
Updated September 06, 2016 at 12:57 PM EDT
Giles Keyte

It has been 12 years since moviegoers last joined Bridget Jones on her romantic misadventures, but the beloved character is back again — and, this time, facing motherhood — in Bridget Jones’s Baby.

Renée Zellweger reprises her role as Helen Fielding’s heroine for the third film, with Colin Firth returning as longtime love interest Mark Darcy and Patrick Dempsey entering the franchise as Jack Qwant, a dating-site mogul who meets cute with Jones at a music festival (her other romantic conquest, Hugh Grant’s Daniel Cleaver, is not in the film, for reasons we won’t spoil here). After romantic encounters with both Mark and Jack, Jones finds herself pregnant but unsure of which of them is the baby’s father.

Reviews of the film began rolling in on Labor Day evening, and so far critics are happy to see Bridget Jones back on the big screen. As Kevin Sullivan writes in EW’s B+ review, “The proceedings may be typical for Bridget and the series, but it’s all played so earnestly that it’s difficult to hold a grudge.”

Read on for more from Sullivan, along with takes from other critics.

Kevin Sullivan (Entertainment Weekly)

“The script contains some genuinely uproarious laughs and is sharper than it needs to be, even if some of the jokes feel as old as Bridget’s condoms. (Admittedly, the conversation about ‘Gangnam Style’ does end in a genuinely funny place.) But Bridget Jones’s Baby is a welcome return for the character and a more fitting ending than Edge of Reason… for now at least. In another 12 years, who knows?”

Catherine Bray (Variety)

“No doubt Edge of Reason was a low bar to clear, and Baby, though an odd fish at times, certainly does that, particularly thanks to its sincere attempt to grapple with the issues Bridget might be facing at this stage in her life. The film isn’t as starkly observant as Fielding’s third Bridget book, the perkily titled Mad About the Boy, in which Bridget is a widow in her 50s bringing up the late Mark Darcy’s children. But Baby can at least claim to restore a modicum of respect for the character, which went completely AWOL in the last film.”

Terri White (Empire)

“Though the story occasionally stretches credibility, the warmth and wit so reminiscent of the original Bridget Jones’s Diary propels you along, being due in large part to the return of one woman: director Sharon Maguire. You feel her filthy, funny thumbprints pressed on almost every scene, and it’s clear that the key chemistry in Bridget will never be between her and a male love interest but between Zellweger and Maguire. Theirs is a particular alchemy. Which, truthfully, is something to be thankful for as ultimately, while the dynamic between Zellweger and Firth is as solid as ever, her pairing with Dempsey never delivers; him playing a one-note nice guy with a megawatt smile.”

Leslie Felperin (The Hollywood Reporter)

“As the film’s title already reveals, Bridget gets knocked up but refuses to have the risky amniocentesis procedure recommended by her gynecologist Dr. Rawlings (Emma Thompson) that would reveal the fetus’ paternity. Bridget, Jack and Mark eventually form a mildly risqué, sexually chaste menage a trois as they await the birth which, like so many movie births before it, features farcical shenanigans that delay arrival at the hospital, a woman in pain taking it out on the man — or in this case men — she holds responsible and a newborn that looks about two months too old to convince anybody who’s ever really been through the experience. It’s funnier than What to Expect When You’re Expecting, but not by a wide enough margin.”

Jason Solomons (The Wrap)

“Maguire as director maintains a lively comic pace and although some of the gags and set-ups have a distinctly sitcom feel, and the famous old diary has been unsatisfactorily replaced with a vague blog-type tablet device, Zellweger continues to give a bravura comic performance as Bridget. Even if there’s not much room for any pathos here, this still feels like a real person who cries and bruises and loves. She’s a woman gamely surviving the pitfalls and pratfalls of her own desperation and insecurities, and Zellweger creates a hugely sympathetic character, whose English accent rarely falters and whom every member of the audience will wish well, and cheer all the way up the aisle.”

Demetrios Matheou (IndieWire)

“So the immediate question is, can Baby survive without Cleaver? It does, just, in part because it has its fair share of laugh-out loud moments, and partly because Fielding has finally allowed Bridget to act her age. The shift is subtly done: She dresses better, at times being positively elegant; her public speaking is still eccentric, but with more composure; the same chaos surrounds her, but this time it is as much to do with circumstance as her own dizziness – it’s a relief to be spared the earlier, forced idiocy. And while she still feels lonely, neurosis has been replaced by a certain grace and stoicism.”

Peter Bradshaw (The Guardian)

“What sealed the deal for me – by a whisker – was the gigantic physical comedy that Dempsey, Zellweger and Firth uncorked as they try to get through the hospital revolving door as Bridget is about to give birth, the traditional romcom rush to the airport having been re-invented for this maternal drama. This is the best way to end what can only can be described as the Bridget Jones franchise: something resembling a likable, good-natured one-off TV holiday special.”

Rosie Fletcher (Digital Spy)

“Juggling issues of ‘geriatric pregnancy,’ the stresses of an unmarried woman with a good job trying to handle career and impending motherhood with the judgement of the next generation, but the support of her mates is a story not often enough told — or certainly not in a broad comedy and the third part of a franchise. It’s undeniably funny too — at its best when Miranda’s knocking over a bunch of portaloos in a Zorb, or Jack and Mark are trying to carry a massively pregnant Bridget through a set of glass revolving doors. Zellweger is no less game than she was in the early films when sliding bum-to-camera down a fireman’s pole. But somehow this isn’t *quite* the Bridget we knew.”

Jane Crowther (Total Film)

“The only blue soup in this delightful confection is a too-neat, traditional ending that doesn’t feel brave or modern enough for Miss Jones and her flouting of her mother’s expectations. But quibbles about patriarchal conservatism aside, Maguire and her charming cast have essentially managed a Creed — cleverly revisiting a beloved character without completing reinventing or re-hashing.”

Bridget Jones's Baby

  • Movie
  • R
  • 118 minutes
  • Sharon Maguire