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2 reviews, 14 user ratings

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Bride Wars
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by Peter Sobczynski

"I Guess I Shouldn't Put A Ring On It"
1 stars

The reason why a film like “Bride Wars” exists is simple enough--having made a ton of money last year at this time with the bridal-themed comedy “27 Dresses,“ 20th Century Fox has decided to once again make another movie aimed at female audiences who are in the mood to see a movie but have no apparent desire to see a good one. And yet, as bad as “27 Dresses” was, it comes across as a near-masterpiece when compared to its successor. Essentially, “Bride Wars” is the cinematic equivalent of a pack of Virginia Slims--it contains all the poisonous crap found in an ordinary lousy movie and is targeted specifically at women who will be distracted enough by the dainty packaging to realize how noxious it truly is. If this movie had been made in 1964, maybe with Natalie Wood and Yvette Mimieux in the lead roles, it would have been jeered off the screens back then as being nothing more than sexist, retrograde and borderline offensive trash made by people whose attitudes towards women were simplistic at best and hateful at worst. Nearly a half-century down the line, it is hard to know what is more shocking--that a film in which practically every single female character is depicted as some form of monster or that the credits for the resulting monstrosity feature two female producers, two female co-writers, an actress who was nominated for an Academy Award a few years ago and another who is arguably the front-runner in the current Best Actress race, all of whom were so inexplicably attracted to the material that they couldn’t wait to work on it.

The film concerns two lifelong friends--driven lawyer Liv (Kate Hudson) and eager-to-please schoolteacher Emma (Anne Hathaway)--who have shared the same single dream since childhood of getting married at the Plaza Hotel in New York in June. When their respective boyfriends (Steve Howey and Chris Pratt) finally pop the question, they enlist the services of the city’s most exclusive wedding planner (Candice Bergen) to make their wishes come true. Through circumstances too sketchily explained to go into, both Liv and Emma are accidentally booked to get married at the hotel on the same day and the next available slot is three years down the line. Considering that these two have been inseparable pals since childhood, you might think that they would just make the best of a bad situation and go for a double wedding. Alas, that is a decision that reeks of common sense and would also make the movie approximately 20 minutes long (an excellent idea under the circumstances) and so it turns out that while both of them reject that idea outright, neither one is willing to reschedule her ceremony. This causes a rift between them and inspires them to plan their own weddings while simultaneously trying to sabotage each others through various dirty tricks. For the most part, the grooms are forgotten at this point but they occasionally try to offer commonsensical advice and are inevitably shot down as a result because they just don‘t understand. The fact that I found their positions far more sympathetic and credible than those espoused by their future spouses is perhaps not that surprising. The fact that Gloria Steinem herself might find herself siding with the guys over the increasingly obnoxious Liv and Emma, on the other hand, may come as a surprise to some.

The idea of a pair of dueling brides trying to one-up each other with their rival ceremonies and nearly destroying themselves in the process is promising enough, I suppose--I can imagine it working as a no-holds-barred black comedy in the tradition of something like “The War of the Roses.” However, “Bride Wars” makes two fatal mistakes. For starters, the escalating conflict simply isn’t very funny. The basic argument between Liv and Emma is so petty that you want to reach into the screen and slap some sense into them and the stunts that they pull on each other aren’t amusing in the slightest. Knowing that Liv has had a longtime weight problem, Emma tricks her into eating a lot of sweets until she can’t fit into her wedding gown. Later on, Liv sneaks into Emma’s tanning salon and gives her a color that would only be appropriate for someone going to a Halloween party as the English Patient. After a while, the pranks become so cruel and vindictive that you’ll find yourself rooting for either the grooms to take a cue from Mr. Big and get the hell out while they still can or for the “Cloverfield” monster to arrive and make the entire argument moot.

The other problem is that the screenplay never quite develops the nerve to fully become the dark and nasty comedy that it should have been. The tricks are mean but never mean enough to really work as inspired black humor--most of them are on the level of a sub-par episode of “Punk’d”--and are never quite as wild as everyone involved seems to think they are. More problematically, the filmmakers clearly don’t want us to have any sort of negative feelings towards our two main characters, no matter how loathsome they may be, and so we are treated every few minutes to a scene in which one of them makes some hollow display of vulnerability so that we don’t wind up disliking either of them too much. Then, having pretty much painted itself into a corner from a dramatic standpoint, the screenplay brings in a last-minute conflict from out of nowhere in order to ensure that everyone more or less gets what they want, thereby rendering the rest of the film even more moot than it already was by that point. It even features a sweet-and-sappy final bit of narration that sounds as though the person who wrote it never actually got around to seeing the rest of the film (an excellent idea under the circumstances).

The truly baffling thing about “Bride Wars” is that two such talented and winning actresses as Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway would choose to top-line the kind of project that you would have thought that both would have outgrown from a career perspective by the point--this is the kind of thing that is usually cast with actresses on hiatus from a mid-level TV show. Okay, perhaps the presence of Kate Hudson isn’t that surprising--in the years since her memorable breakthrough as Penny Lane in “Almost Famous,” she has appeared in one lame misfire after another (the fact that the theoretically indefensible “Alex & Emma” is not her career low point should give you an idea of how terrible her other films have been in that time)--but this time around, she has not only decided to appear in a film that is so far beneath her talents that you begin to wonder what you saw in her in the first place, she bizarrely thought enough of it to sign on as one of the film’s producers as well, a decision that is enough to bring her sanity into question along with her taste. As for Hathaway, I am willing to be a little more forgiving since this is a rare misstep in a career that has been on a steady rise over the last few years. That said, my guess is that if she had her druthers, she would probably be a lot happier if this film were being released at a time when it wouldn’t run the risk of Norbitizing her chances of winning an Oscar for her superlative work in “Rachel Getting Married.” By the way, although I am sure some people will try to construct some tenuous link between the two films because of their bridal-related themes, there is absolutely nothing in common between the exquisite “Rachel Getting Married” and the excruciating “Bride Wars” other than the fact that I kept hoping that Debra Winger would travel over from the former to the latter to punch everyone in the face (an excellent idea under the circumstances).

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=17990&reviewer=389
originally posted: 01/09/09 00:00:00
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User Comments

4/30/11 puddleduck Hathaway thankfully can act...Hudson should stick to getting knocked up by rock stars 2 stars
9/12/10 art IT SUCK"S!!!! 1 stars
11/28/09 Cat What a piece of crap. As as woman I'm insulted. 1 stars
10/22/09 Rachel Definitely funny, but probably females would relate to it more. 4 stars
5/15/09 Chris Payne I really enjoyed this film. I went and saw it with my girlfriend. It's worth checking out. 4 stars
3/25/09 Rhett Perkins typical chick flisk 2 stars
1/21/09 27D Pathetic ending 1 stars
1/16/09 Stephanie Bruce I love comedies, this was great, i recommend seeing it with all the gal pals 4 stars
1/14/09 FrankNFurter This film is about as funny as Disaster Movie.Just to clarify, that's not a compliment! 1 stars
1/14/09 Danielle Bledsoe the worst movie i ever seen 1 stars
1/12/09 Mary Ann Fletcher Film had no subtext 2 stars
1/10/09 filibuster fred Dem girls is hot but deh movie stinks 1 stars
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  09-Jan-2009 (PG)
  DVD: 28-Apr-2009


  DVD: 28-Apr-2009

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