'Bride Wars': Bridezillas On The Loose In New York

Anne Hathaway i i

Pretty Is As Pretty Does? Anne Hathaway's Emma may look sweet, but Bride Wars is all about finding her dark side. Claire Folger/20th Century Fox hide caption

itoggle caption Claire Folger/20th Century Fox
Anne Hathaway

Pretty Is As Pretty Does? Anne Hathaway's Emma may look sweet, but Bride Wars is all about finding her dark side.

Claire Folger/20th Century Fox

Bride Wars

  • Director: Gary Winick
  • Genre: Romantic Comedy
  • Running Time: 89 minutes

Rated PG: Dirty dancing, dirty tricks

Kate Hudson i i

Let It Out! Kate Hudson's lawyerish Liv practices her sincere smile in Bride Wars. Claire Folger/20th Century Fox hide caption

itoggle caption Claire Folger/20th Century Fox
Kate Hudson

Let It Out! Kate Hudson's lawyerish Liv practices her sincere smile in Bride Wars.

Claire Folger/20th Century Fox

The "bridezilla" is one of the most fearsome and allegedly fascinating beasts in reality TV's menagerie. So it was inevitable that Hollywood would make a big-screen sitcom about young women who go thermonuclear when their fantasies of the perfect wedding are threatened.

In the lukewarm farce Bride Wars, those women are lifelong friends Liv (Kate Hudson) and Emma (Anne Hathaway). Liv, the pushy one, is a corporate lawyer; Emma, the pushover, is a schoolteacher.

They wouldn't seem to have much in common, except that both have dreamed they'd marry at New York's Plaza Hotel ever since attending a ceremony there as little girls.

Liv and Emma have live-in boyfriends, but they don't play significant parts in the women's lives. The guys might as well be plastic toy grooms atop their girlfriends' respective wedding cakes.

That's roughly what bland Fletcher (Chris Pratt) and blander Daniel (Steve Howey) become when each proposes marriage in the same week. After making that fateful mistake, the men are extraneous. Even a subplot that threatens the union of one of the couples has no emotional heft.

As soon as they're sporting diamond rings, Liv and Emma hurry to imperious wedding planner Marion St. Claire (Candice Bergen), who has been narrating the story from the beginning. She offers Plaza Hotel dates a few weeks apart, but her assistant jumbles the booking: Liv and Emma are scheduled to wed the same day in adjacent rooms.

And so begins what's supposed to be the fun. Neither woman will blink, and bitter rivalry soon turns to wicked girlie-world sabotage. Tanning beds, hair salons, dance studios and bachelorette parties are all battlegrounds, and no rumor — could one of the women be pregnant? — is too noxious to plant.

Ultimately, the big day finds Liv and Emma in their wedding gowns, wrestling on the floor. But the catfight is as clawless as the rest of their conflict is toothless.

Bride Wars labors to be chirpy, with a score that features ditties by the likes of "Bubbly" singer Colbie Caillat. Yet it suggests that Emma will benefit from finding her inner shrew, and it assumes that while both women are grown-up enough to marry, neither is sufficiently mature to walk away from the escalating combat.

The challenge for director Gary Winick — and for co-producer Hudson — is to make Liv and Emma behave so badly that it's hilarious, and then credibly restore their likability by the end. It doesn't work, and not just because the women's assaults on each other are dull.

The essential problem is that Liv and Emma aren't that agreeable in the first place. Hudson has seldom been less charming, and Hathaway is closer to the querulous, self-absorbed creature she played in Rachel Getting Married than to her more amiable roles. They may not be bridezillas initially, but they are a bit monstrous.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.