Last week, I wrote about my total shock over how much I enjoyed watching Bridget Jones’s Baby. Despite (or possibly at least partially because of, actually) my basement-level expectations, it was a fun and honest continuation of a story that I’m choosing to forget ever had a middle installation. Among its many surprises, it was the rare comedy that gets stronger in its second and third acts.
That is, until the last minute or so, when everything falls apart. I didn’t want to include this in my review because a big spoiler on opening day isn’t very cool. But now that the movie has been out for a week, we need to talk about the ending, and how it is nothing but total bullshit.
If you’ve seen the movie, or if you’ve decided you definitely won’t, or might but don’t care about knowing the final reveal, let’s talk. Everyone else, you’ve been warned. I am going to tell you how the movie ends. So…
The entire plot of Bridget Jones’s Baby is leading up to Bridget finding out the father of her baby, and ending up with either Colin Firth (yay!) or Patrick Dempsey (why?). The answers to those questions might be the same, or they might not. For a time in the middle— especially when Emma Thompson’s no-fucks-to-give doctor finds something close to a pep talk in her— it might start to look like the movie is going to subvert the traditional rom-com groundwork the entire franchise is so firmly built on, and have Bridget end up without either of the men.
But the movie is what it is, and it heartily embraces its genre, so let’s not dwell too hard on its limitations. If you went to a horror movie and didn’t see blood, you’d be let down. The final kiss is the gore of the romantic comedy. We were definitely going to get it. The question was only with whom.
So just like with a horror movie or a psychological thriller, an audience’s job when watching a love triangle unfold is to develop theories and hopes, to try to anticipate the twist. What you hope will happen may be the same as what you think will happen, but not often.
When it comes to BJB, here’s what I, personally, wanted to happen: I wanted Bridget’s baby to be Jack’s (Dempsey), but to end up with Mark Darcy (Firth). As for what I thought the movie would assume I wanted to see, though, I was preparing myself for the answer to both questions to be Darcy.
And here’s where I have to admit that maybe I am just very, very dumb. You may judge me, and that’s fine. But I need to tell you, in the last couple of minutes of the movie, I SUPER DID NOT KNOW WHAT WAS HAPPENING.
If you didn’t see the movie, here’s how it ended:
—Bridget is in labor, and the two men are called out to do the DNA test.
—Cut to one year later, Bridget is walking down the aisle in her wedding dress, past hundreds of guests, to an unseen groom.
—Suddenly Jack steps out, holding a baby. She’s marrying Jack!
—Just kidding! After saying nice words or whatever to Jack, Mark steps out from behind him. HE’S her groom!
It was exactly what I wanted! I didn’t expect Bridget to end up a single mother (even though that would have been a powerful ending), but this would have been fantastic! What a great message for a genre that’s so entrenched in fairytale standards. If a married couple and their child’s biological father could all be close and present and happy for each other, that’s not stealing the romance from the ending, it’s only expanding it. I was floored this movie, which already exceeded my expectations, could push their edges like this.
And then we cut to outside of the church, where Jack is playing with the kid, giving him little tosses into the air. Cute, right? Bridget and Mark walk up, grinning. One big happy family.
That’s when Mark says (paraphrasing, I forget the exact wording), “Be careful with my son.”
And I thought to myself, that’s weird wording. But being familiar with cliched language, I assumed Jack’s next line would be something along the lines of “He’s my son, too.” Big group laugh and grins, fade out, Bridget gives us reassuring, happy ending voiceover.
But he doesn’t say that. Or anything except a joke about not knowing what he’s doing. Which means it IS Mark’s baby. And Jack is just… what? In their lives? A good friend? Not just a catching up a year later at the wedding kind of friend, either. A holding the baby in the front pew level friend. After he got kind of screwed over and vaguely cheated on for a while by Bridget (both men clearly thought they were in a relationship with her for a good portion of the movie), and not having nay previous relationship with her, and also not even being from England, now he’s just like their BFF and kind of a nanny maybe? WHAT KIND OF ENDING IS THAT?
Apparently, not one the people behind the movie cared that much about. According to Colin Firth (talking to CinemaBlend), this ending was the product of test audience reactions.
I don’t think they have that much loyalty to anybody. They were going to wait to see what people wanted, and I think there was a determination to deliver a happy or satisfying ending. And I think they were hedging their bets until they started to see people’s response. I think if, had the responses been different, I think we’d be looking at a different ending.
Well goddamnit, Bridget Jones. I don’t feel quite so dumb for thinking your choices don’t make any sense. Because apparently no one gave enough of a crap to think them through beyond the point of your focus groups’ dial turning abilities.