Borrowed & Blue
In the shallow comedy Bride Wars, Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway play Jersey girls who fantasize about June weddings at Manhattan's Plaza Hotel. As the dream is about to come true for the lifelong friends, they morph into competitive blonde and brunette Bridezillas, prompted by a gaffe. Their respective nuptials are booked into the posh venue for the same day.
Desperately in need of a flamboyance infusion, this dreary affair veers away from its madcap motif when the women start regretting their catty (and insufficiently funny) behavior. It's going to take a shotgun to coax the average guy to pay to see Bride Wars. Firearms will also be necessary to get anyone to sit through it twice, even the tween girls the PG rating indicates are being targeted.
Liv (Hudson) is a successful New York attorney with a reputation for aggressiveness. Emma (Hathaway) is a middle-school teacher with a meeker profile. When their live-in boyfriends pop the question around the same time, the girls rush to secure the services of the city's most sought after wedding planner (Candace Bergen), who also doubles as the movie's narrator.
Since neither woman will reschedule her wedding, they have no choice but to become mortal enemies. Such is the logic governing aspiring mass entertainments released during the month of January, when last year's prestige pictures are allowed to prove their mettle without serious new competition. As Liv and Emma try to sabotage one another's big day, we are treated to tired gags involving tanning sessions and hair dye jobs gone awry.
At least the filmmakers might have gone for it by unleashing the ditzy side of the concept. Instead, Bride Wars tries to explore relatively serious relationship territory and, of course, the land where schmaltzy sentiments about the value of friendship can be expressed. While the aim is to depict the innocent female equivalent of a bromance, the movie's homosexual undertones are impossible to ignore. With only a slight bit of tweaking, it could be a story about two friends who realize they are really in love with each other. A lesbian romance would certainly solve the problem of the double-booked venue. The two jilted fiancés could be worked around.
Reinterpreted in that light, Bride Wars is the closest thing to a mainstream, same-sex romantic-comedy since Adam Sandler and Kevin James posed as life partners in I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry. Unfortunately, there's even less joy on display than in that nasty picture. Even if the gay reading is a bit much, the movie suffers from a lack of vibrancy and zing. You long for the equivalent of Martin Short's eccentric wedding planner in the 1991 remake of Father of the Bride. Bergen is no substitute and Kristen Johnston is underused in the role of Emma's selfish colleague.
Anyone rooting for Hathaway to snag an Oscar for her performance in Jonathan Demme's indie Rachel Getting Married -- the antithesis of this movie -- can rest easy. Bride Wars won't damage her chances, her credibility as an actress, or her career long-term. Peers will appreciate her willingness to appear in bread-and-butter Hollywood fare in which no major thespian muscles are needed.
The same is not true of Hudson, who is starting to look much more like her mother Goldie Hawn, the princess of celluloid kookiness in her day. Kate is making a habit of appearing in abysmal comedies (Fool's Gold, My Best Friend's Girl) and even got a producer credit on this one. She and Hathaway are quite fetching, even if their physicality and talent are kept under wraps. (Their pole dance competition during Liv's bachelorette party doesnt count.)
And while it may be tempting to write off Bride Wars as harmlessly mediocre, this race to the altar also falters by trafficking in female stereotypes. It implies that women must be either driven professionals or passive schoolteachers, unattractive and bitter lonely hearts or wanton sluts. No matter the label, the women encountered are all self-involved and solipsistic. This wouldn't be so lamentable if the movie was funny or said anything novel about weddings, friendship, or romance.
(Releast by 20th Century Fox and rated "PG" for suggestive content and some rude behavior.)