Movies about weddings can be so fun and girly and sweet. It's easy to get swept up in the sparkly rings and the hunt for the perfect dresses and the cream-colored towering cakes. Plus, at the heart of Bride Wars there's also this relationship between two BFFs and I'm all for movies with an emphasis on the strength of female friendship. But this film doesn't do right by either the fun bridal aspect or the "girlfriend" aspect and comes up seeming empty and kinda sad.
Emma (Anne Hathaway) and Liv (Kate Hudson) are the bestest of friends who spent much time as children dreaming of (and role-playing) their weddings. Now that they're adults (Liv a harsh, high-powered businesswoman and Emma the sensitive low-paid schoolteacher), they plan to be each other's maid of honor and as luck would have it, they both get engaged around the same time. But when they meet with wedding planner extraordinaire Marion St. Claire (Candice Bergen), an administrative hiccup causes the two weddings to be booked at the Plaza Hotel on the same date. When neither one will move her wedding, the two brides-to-be turn against each other, trying to sabotage the other's wedding, and their friendship suffers. For more of my thoughts on all this, read more.
For a "comedy," there's not much humor involved, and regardless of whether the intention was to satirize bridezillas, the truth is that the whole thing has this eerie antiquated feeling to it. What year are we living in? What era is this when two grown women have spent their lives — and apparently their whole friendship — aspiring mostly just to have lavish weddings? And then, when the weddings are booked on the same day, they attack each other? How is this that important? One of them is even demoted at her job because, as it appears in the movie, her hysterical little lady brain can't handle the stress of destroying her "best friend's" wedding and navigating the big bad business world. At the core of it all, their main "problem" is hard to accept. Just move the dang wedding!
During the moments when they’re supposedly these superclose best-best-best friends, I just can't buy it. They don't really seem to even like each other. But then when they are scheming and tricking each other, it's just kinda boring. Emma gets an orange tan. Liv's hair turns blue. Yawn. For one thing, we see most of this in the trailer so none of it is a funny surprise. For another thing, it's not particularly interesting or clever — it's merely cruel and catty.
Anne Hathaway saves some scenes with her endearing ways and that big ol' toothy smile. But Kate Hudson just looks. . . mean. She looks angry and mean all the time. Even when she’s supposed to be happy or sweet or apologetic there's no getting past that meanness. Something about her look in this movie, combined with her hateful, selfish character makes it difficult to like or care about Liv.
The movie redeems itself a little toward the end when the women have had their own journeys that ultimately lead them closer to each other and more in tune with the women they want to be, etc. etc. etc. But the sweetness of this doesn't quite make up for the joylessness of all that came before it.
Photo courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox