Bridget is back! And really, she ain’t changed all that much. Well, she’s older; but she’s still pretty much the same Bridget that we know and love. Which is kinda a great thing. The easy (lazy) approach to this material would be the horror of an aging Bridget, falling out of step in an ever more youthful world. The film, thankfully, avoids these pitfalls, largely I think due to the return of the much of the creative team. Sharon Maguire’s back in the director’s chair. Helen Fielding’s still at the head of the script, joined this time by Dan Mazer and Emma Thompson (who writes herself into the role of Bridget’s gynaecologist, one of the films best inventions.) It’s a piece by older people, it’s never arch about their age, why wouldn’t they be in their forties? Many people are.
The majority of the original cast returns too, with the exception of Hugh Grant’s Daniel Cleaver. He died. Plane crash. Very tragic. So we discover at the film’s opening. Bridget (Renee Zellweger) is single still, her previous attempts at a relationships having not gone to plan. Trying to re-enter the dating game leads to a one night stand at Glastonbury (Jack Qwant [Patrick Dempsey] American and charming) and an ill-advised hook up with her ex (Mark Darcy [Colin Firth] British and charming, but like in a British way,) before she discovers an unexpected visitor to her womb. She’s a mess, but that’s why we love her.
You know that episode in every family sitcom where the daughter accidentally promises to go to the prom with two boys? The film is that writ large so many of the familiar beats are there, the trickery, indecision and ultimatum. However there’s something to be said for how the film ties of all this up with the grown up baggage of commitment and responsibility. When D.J. Tanner’s forced to choose between boys one gets the sense that things’ll probably work out okay. I dunno, it’s probably been done somewhere before and better and I’m just stupid for not being able to remember it. But the film’s juxtaposition of these two worlds really worked for me.
What works less well is its takes on society’s technologization and the decline of traditional news media. This sort of commentary felt old back in 2011 and since then every struggling reporter trying to catch a break seeming has to scream ‘Print media is dead!’ like some furious Cassandra. Bridget works as a news producer and there’s a whole subplot of the station turning into what, Buzzfeed? TMZ? It lacks much needed specificity and as a result never gels. This includes the performances of many of her new colleagues a hair too close to caricature to fit in with the rest of the piece. Also three years out of date are the music choices, though perhaps a result of a long gestation period, there’s no need for Gangnam Style to make an appearance in 2016. Gangnam Style, remember that? Wow.
It’s gentle, I guess, the whole thing feels like puff pastry. But it’s funny, and it’s fun, and the actors acquit themselves well. Besides, who hates puff pastry? It makes some great confections.