Rated PG for suggestive content, language and some rude behavior, 90 minutes
Guys, run while you can-the year’s first chick flick has arrived: the pleasant but shallow Bride Wars
I must admit I have a bit of a skewered attitude when reviewing the new movie Bride Wars. I’m a single never married male - not exactly the target audience for a movie about two rival brides and best friends who have their weddings scheduled on the same day. In spite of that, I enjoyed Bride Wars more than I should’ve, a movie that’s as pleasant and fluffy as a piece of wedding cake, in spite of some stale writing. As the brides, Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson share a few fun moments, just don’t think about it too much, or you’ll find it totally unrealistic, completely shallow and dreadfully predictable, all of which is true.
Hathaway is Emma, Hudson is Liv, two childhood best friends, both of whom have the ultimate dream of getting married in the Plaza Hotel in New York in June. Emma is a sensible and intelligent middle-school teacher who works hard with her accountant boyfriend Fletcher (Everwood’s Chris Pratt). Liv is a driven and composed attorney with big dreams with financier boyfriend Daniel (Steve Howey - Van from Reba).
Emma and Liv get engaged around the same time, so they go to well-known wedding planner Marion St. Claire (Candice Bergen), who books both of their weddings in June. But due to a mix-up she accidentally schedules them on the same day, same time, same place - though neither women want to give up their date and the best friends become rivals to see who’ll have the biggest and best wedding.
Bride Wars is an enjoyable, sometimes fun movie in need of fresher, more inspired writing. For one, it’s hard to buy into that overnight two best friends would hate each other over something they’ve dreamed of their whole lives. Sure, without it we wouldn’t have the whole set up, but then the set up is the whole problem, lacking any sense of plausibility. Co-produced by Hudson herself, the best thing about Bride Wars is a relatively brief running time (under 90 minutes) - in guy time, that’s only about 2 trips to the concession stand.
Second, real women, though competitive about many things, probably would not go to the lengths these two go to for their wedding. Dying someone’s hair blue or seeing someone with a burnt orange tan is mildly entertaining for a Hollywood movie - but real life? Hardly. Hathaway and especially Hudson are a game, charming pair both of whom possess comic talents, but with this derivative, tiresome premise that treats women (especially brides) as stereotypes, they’re coasting on their likeability factor.
Third, elements of the Bride Wars script, written by Greg DePaul and Casey Wilson, and directed by Gary Winick, all of whom have a TV pedigree, could’ve been explored far more - such as why Liv’s parents are dead (never explained) or some of the problems inherent in Fletcher and Emma’s relationship, or the problems with Emma and Liv’s relationship, all of which could’ve added more attachment and realism to both story and characters. (If you want more realism - and a far better movie - check out Hathaway’s other wedding movie, Rachel Getting Married, which should net her a deserved Oscar nomination.)
Veteran actress Bergen, typically used to decent comic effect, is underused here yet inexplicably narrates the film, another implausibility given her seeming dislike of the two major characters. As the befuddled grooms, Pratt and Howey are so bland they might as well be invisible. One of Bride Wars’ bright spots is the memorably funny Kristen Johnston (Third Rock from the Sun), who is hilarious as one of Emma’s co-workers. Cracking a funny line or being physically zany (funny moment: watch her cower in Bergen’s presence), she steals scenes and adds zest to the proceedings.
Bride Wars efficiently resolves its premise, as the characters become best buds again and you realize that it wears its chick flick badge proudly. By the end, women may leave emotionally satisfied, and the men - what men there are - will be glad to leave because it’s the end. Though made with a clear lack of inspiration or originality, Hathaway and Hudson are lovely, fun brides, which is likely enough to make Bride Wars a hit.
NOTE: This review is also published at www.popsyndicate.com.