*** (out of 5)
January 9, 2009
Kate Hudson as LIV
Anne Hathaway as EMMA
Bryan Greenberg as NATE
Chris Pratt as FLETCHER
Steve Howey as DANIEL
Candice Bergen as MARION ST. CLAIRE
Kristen Johnston as DEB
Studio: Fox 2000 Pictures
Directed by: Gary Winick
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
There were two thoughts that came to mind as I walked out of the screening of “Bride Wars.” The first was, “That wasn’t so bad for a January release.”
The second was, “God, I’m glad I have three boys and no girls.”
My first reaction, about how the movie’s not bad for a January release, is actually a compliment. Normally, January is the dumping ground for Hollywood. Amid a flurry of limited release award films, we are besieged with an onslaught of terrible movies that couldn’t make it in a tent-pole release season (like the summer or holidays) and have no chance of winning awards.
Case in point, last year’s January slate gave us “One Missed Call,” “Mad Money,” “Untraceable,” “Meet the Spartans” “First Sunday” and Uwe Boll’s crapsterpiece “In the Name of the King.” (Sure, “Cloverfield” and “Rambo” also came out last January, but those were exceptions.)
For the most part, though, “Bride Wars” is cute, friendly and funny more times than not. The story follows Liv (Kate Hudson) and Emma (Anne Hathaway) as best friends who have had a lifelong dream of a June wedding at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. When they each get engaged at the same time, they try to book the Plaza, only to find out they get double-booked on the same day. Neither wants to give up “the happiest day of their life,” and they become bitter enemies to have the better wedding.
That last part explains my second thought, the one about only having boys as my kids. I hope to God that I never have to deal with the insanity of flushing money down a toilet for an extravagant wedding. (Does that make me bitter? Sure, but even when I was getting married, I could not ignore what a rip-off the entire wedding industry is. Sue me… I’m a dude.)
There’s a myth in modern society that every girl must look forward to her wedding, and it is embodied by the characters of Liv and Emma. However, the reality is that most weddings are fraught with grief, angst, bickering and needless stress. And you pay through the nose for all this.
Multiple times in the film, weddings are referred to as “the happiest day” of the girls’ lives. Doesn’t this imply that it’s all downhill from their. And let’s not forget that the wedding myth only boosts spoiled girls’ egos by making everything about them. Sure, this is the opinion of a guy, but I’ve been through a wedding and watched many a friend also get married. I consider myself an expert.
Okay, I’ll step off my soap box now.
Like many films I’ve seen over the years, the strongest parts of “Bride Wars” rests on the shoulders of the supporting cast rather than the stars. Don’t get me wrong… Hudson and Hathaway hold their own in the film. They’re both pleasant to look at, and they do a fine job acting. Sometimes they aren’t given the best material to work with, and Hudson does lay it on a bit thick at times, but ultimately they work in the movie.
But the funniest characters are found in the supporting cast. Kristen Johnston is hilarious as Emma’s cantankerous friend from work, and June Diane Raphael plays a bit part as a bride on the way to divorce that steals all of the scenes she’s in.
I know a lot of the sympathy I could feel for the characters is lost on me because I have a Y chromosome, but I can understand and empathize with the female condition. Liv and Emma are overly focused on a wedding as a dream, and they are quite shallow in the beginning, but this does serve the comedy to a degree.
Even though it has its flaws, “Bride Wars” is far superior to last January’s wedding flick “27 Dresses” and last summer’s counter-programming “Made of Honor.” You could do worse in Hollywood’s dumping ground.