“Bride Wars” – Something Old, Nothing New, Everything Borrowed, and Sure to Make you Blue


popcornBy Michael S. Goldberger, film critic 

Hearing yourself utter the plot description of “Bride Wars” makes you wonder if either you or the world has gone insane. At minimum, certainly it must cause you to lose millions of brain cells. But a critic must be intrepid. So here goes: Two best friends since childhood vie to see who can have the better wedding at New York’s Plaza Hotel. 

My gray matter now doubtlessly compromised, it nonetheless occurs that such narcissism would be tasteless even in better economic times. Granted, the tell-all trailers signaled that director Gary Winick’s film would be bad. It’s the sheer length and breadth of the bad that’s overwhelming.

Further astounding the sensibilities is how Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson could have subjected themselves to such a no-win situation. Watching them duke it out as best gal pals whose vanity causes them to wind up with the same wedding date, they remind of great athletes who fall deeper and deeper into a slump. Nothing they do seems to work.

Not that the coach or playbook are of any help. Mr. Winick’s lethargic direction barely has the strength to connect the dots of Greg Paul, Casey Wilson and June Diane Raphael’s clichéd screenplay. That three writers chose to collaborate on the script can only suggest that they did so in order to have someone to blame for its ineptitude.

Even scoffing at the flawed and indefensible film soon stops being fun. After all, it means no harm…just a cast and a crew trying to make a buck. And though “Bride Wars” offers a new slant on the term, mindless entertainment, the truth is a market exists for such superficiality.

Thus, without further ado, acknowledging my already infected mind is not such a terrible thing to waste, a synopsis of the farce is in order. Narrated blamelessly by Candice Bergen, the tale starts with two young girls from New Jersey being inextricably afflicted with wealth and ostentation of the wedding kind whilst visiting the storied Plaza.

Naturally, the best friends are in every other way opposites. Blonde Liv, portrayed by Miss Hudson, is now a corporate lawyer who has the lesser sharks chattering their teeth with fear. Whereas demurring, brunette Emma, played by Anne Hathaway, toils for the commonweal by teaching kids in a public school. All the same, they are smitten. 

And so, when they both become engaged at practically the same time, the girlfriends make a beeline for Candice Bergen’s Marion St. Claire, wedding planner extraordinaire. But, uh, oh…the Plaza has but three openings in June. Whew…Marion secures two dates. Oops. Her secretary makes a mistake. Their Big Day is the same day.

Admittedly, were calmer heads to prevail, there would be no plot. Either one of the ladies would accede to a different date at another venue (the Plaza’s next opening is three years away), or they would further reinforce their friendship by having a double wedding. But, as demonstrated by the Sturm und Drang that follows, such is not the case.

Hereinafter, the old adage will read, Hell hath no fury like an impending bride scorned. Each of the buds proceeds to do whatever she can to ruin the other’s chances of a happy wedding. I.e.-Liv spreads a rumor that Emma “had” to get married; Emma sneaks blue dye into Liv’s hairdresser’s mixing bowl.

Back and forth it goes and where it’ll stop nobody cares. For we are bored out of our wits…boredom that has you twisting your neck in discomfort like Rodney Dangerfield as you try to recall a film experience this terrible. Some men will be reminded of the little boy ennui experienced when Mom dragged them from one department store to the next.

Of course, despite abrogating all the rules of friendship, and probably the Geneva Convention as well, “Bride Wars” proceeds to its predictable conclusion. Along the route, there’s little in the way of subtext to distract us from the tedium. Collateral damage regarding the no name, tofu-personality bridegrooms lacks any semblance of conviction. 

Considering the paucity of effort so evident in this star-crossed endeavor, its total failure is no surprise. Still, in-between snoozes (Yipes! Was I snoring?) and catching up on your daydreaming, you can’t help but wonder how a fusion of actresses as talented as Misses Hathaway and Hudson could be so devoid of chemistry. Even their looks seem off a tad.

Whether it’s failure breeding failure or a subconscious desire to disassociate themselves from an obviously unfortunate career move, these are performances both women will surely wish to forget. And so will filmgoers who don’t divorce themselves from any thoughts of becoming casualties of “Bride Wars.”

 “Bride Wars,” rated PG, is a Fox 2000 Pictures release directed by Gary Winick and stars Anne Hathaway, Kate Hudson and Candice Bergen. Running time: 90 minutes      

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