Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bride Wars (*)

Directed by Gary Winick


Think of the plot of Bride Wars: two women who are best friends become mortal enemies as they both get in the way of the other's perfect wedding. Think about how dull that sounds on paper. Yet, all that aside, someone thought enough to bring that very plot to the big screen, and invest in the careers of two talented young actresses no less. Of coarse, Bride Wars is not a film made with the intention of winning Oscars or getting four-star reviews from Manohla Davis, so in that case, I probably forgive this film, but I can't excuse its blandness.

Liv (Kate Hudson) and Emma (Anne Hathaway) are very best friends, and have been so seemingly since the womb. When they were young girls, they attended a wedding at the Plaza in Manhattan. From that moment on, they both established their dream wedding: June, in the Plaza, with no particular preferance on the groom. First things first, though, they have to be engaged, and of coarse, the two are conveniently proposed to within days of each other and scamper to make plans for their perfect ceremony.

They get in touch with Marion St. Claire (Candice Bergan), a legendary wedding planner who tells the two girls that there are two seperate openings in the Plaza in June. Perfect! Oh wait, a mistake is made--a mistake which makes no sense outside of this movie--and now Liv and Emma have their weddings scheduled on the same day. The two come together rationally, and decide to take their time before one of them makes the decision to try a completely different venue.

When Liv gives out her Save-the-Dates before a decision is made, Emma decides that it is now personal and the Bride Wars begin, indeed. Within weeks, Liv and Emma have halted communication with each other, and mayhem ensues: including horrible pranks involving body tan and blue hair dye. Needless to say, the grooms take a backseat to these hijinks, seemingly as important to the brides-to-be as waiters.

I understand the point of this film as an attempt to satirize the wedding-crazed culture some women can be emersed in. The problem is that this film has less a mind to satirize that it almost comes off sounding like an endorsement. Worse yet, the film has no true grasp of the actual entertaining aspects of its own story, and instead we are left with hackneyed plot conventions and stock female characters that border on assinine.

I will say that I liked this movie about as much as you can like a one-star film, and that is because you almost feel bad for the talented actresses involved. Hudson is a former Oscar-nominee, and second-generation movie star; while Hathaway is a future Oscar-nominee (we're all hoping) that has been quite a bright spot in Hollywood films for quite a few years now. Both of these actresses are immensely skilled, but are nearly wasted in these roles, where the dialogue rolls out their mouths like potatos.

I know, I know, Bride Wars is an easy target for somebody like me, so I hope it helps to say that I have no personal grudge against the filmmakers, nor did I find the film as torturous as, say, The Reader. But here is the truth: there was no effort put forth for this film. The writing is lazy, the direction is uninspired, and Hathaway, Hudson, and Bergan all play down to the level of the screenplay. Its lowest-common-denominator filmmaking, and I expect better for my price of admission.

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